New Climate Change Study Projects Continued and Severe Future Warming

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 31, 2013

Spread in model climate sensitivity traced to atmospheric convective mixing, Steven C. Sherwood, Sandrine Bony & Jean-Louis Dufresne. Nature. 505, 37–42 doi:10.1038/nature12829.

“This paper offers an explanation for the long-standing uncertainty in predictions of global warming derived from climate models. Uncertainties in predicted climate sensitivity — the magnitude of global warming due to an external influence — range from 1.5° C to 5° C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. It has been assumed that uncertainties in cloud simulations are at the root of the model disparities, and here Steven Sherwood et al. examine the output of 43 climate models and demonstrate that about half of the total uncertainty in climate sensitivity can be traced to the varying treatment of mixing between the lower and middle troposphere — and mostly in the tropics. When constrained by observations, the authors’ modelling suggests that climate sensitivity is likely to exceed 3° C rather than the currently estimated lower limit of 1.5° C, thereby constraining model projections towards more severe future warming.”

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