High chance that current atmospheric greenhouse concentrations commit to warmings greater than 1.5 °C over land
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The recent Paris UNFCCC climate meeting discussed the possibility of limiting global warming to 2 °C since pre-industrial times, or possibly even 1.5 °C, which would require major future emissions reductions. However, even if climate is stabilised at current atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, those warming targets would almost certainly be surpassed in the context of mean temperature increases over land only. The reason for this is two-fold. First, current transient warming lags significantly below equilibrium or "committed" warming. Second, almost all climate models indicate warming rates over land are much higher than those for the oceans. We demonstrate this potential for high eventual temperatures over land, even for contemporary GHG levels, using a large set of climate models and for which climate sensitivities are known. Such additional land warming has implications for impacts on terrestrial ecosystems and human well-being. This suggests that even if massive and near-immediate emissions reductions occur such that atmospheric GHGs increase further by only small amounts, careful planning is needed by society to prepare for higher land temperatures in an eventual equilibrium climatic state.
CH Acknowledges the NERC CEH National Capability fund.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Springer Nature via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 6, article 30294
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