Assessing when global atmospheric temperature rises might be reached

November 24th, 2011 by Nature

A policy-relevant method of displaying climate change projections is presented in a Perspective published online in Nature Climate Change.

Climate change projections are usually presented as ‘snapshots’ of change at a particular time in the future.

Instead, Manoj Joshi and colleagues re-analyse existing projections and present them in ways that show when particular temperature thresholds will be crossed, shifting the emphasis from ‘what might happen’ to ‘when it might happen’.

This new approach can convey important, policy-relevant information about the timing of change that isn’t available from traditional maps of future change.

In particular, it emphasizes that lowering greenhouse-gas emissions would delay the crossing of temperature thresholds and buy valuable time for planning adaptation measures.

For example, if emissions remain high, global average warming will probably exceed 2 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2060, but reducing emissions could delay the time this threshold is crossed by up to several decades.

Their paper “Projections of when temperature change will exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels” was published on-line on 23 October 2011.


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