Pete Sedwick: Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Inc., St. George's, Bermuda;
Giacomo R. DiTullio: Hollings Marine Laboratory, University of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A.
Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2007GL032583, 2008; http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2007GL032583
2. Stabilizing climate requires near-zero carbon emissions
Current international climate mitigation efforts aim to cap levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to avoid dangerous interference in the climate system. Nonetheless, stable greenhouse gas concentrations do not equate to stable global climate. Simulations show that human-induced climate warming will continue for many centuries, even after atmospheric carbon dioxide is kept level. To study how future warming could be avoided, Matthews and Caldeira use an Earth system model to assess emission requirements for global temperature stabilization within the next several centuries. They find that a single pulse of carbon released into the atmosphere increases globally averaged surface temperature by an amount that remains approximately constant for several centuries, even in the absence of additional emissions. Further, holding the climate constant at a given global temperature requires near-zero future carbon emissions. These results suggest that future greenhouse gas emissions by humans would need to be eliminated in order to hold global temperatures steady. As a consequence, any future emissions will commit the climate system to warming that is essentially irreversible on centennial timescales.
Title: Stabilizing climate requires near-zero emissions
Authors: H. Damon Matthews: Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada;
Ken Caldeira: Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution
|Contact: Peter Weiss|
American Geophysical Union