Internationally renowned climate researcher Caroline Leck of Stockholm University has evaluated the Norwegian project and is enthusiastic.
"These results are truly sensational," says Dr Leck. "If confirmed by other studies, this could have far-reaching impacts on efforts to achieve the political targets for climate."
Temperature rise is levelling off
After Earth's mean surface temperature climbed sharply through the 1990s, the increase has levelled off nearly completely at its 2000 level. Ocean warming also appears to have stabilised somewhat, despite the fact that CO2 emissions and other anthropogenic factors thought to contribute to global warming are still on the rise.
It is the focus on this post-2000 trend that sets the Norwegian researchers' calculations on global warming apart.
Sensitive to greenhouse gases
Climate sensitivity is a measure of how much the global mean temperature is expected to rise if we continue increasing our emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activity. A simple way to measure climate sensitivity is to calculate how much the mean air temperature will rise if we were to double the level of overall CO2 emissions compared to the world's pre-industrialised level around the year 1750.
If we continue to emit greenhouse gases at our current rate, we risk doubling that atmospheric CO2 level in roughly 2050.
A number of factors affect the formation of climate development. The complexity of the climate system is further compounded by a phenomenon known as feedback mechanisms, i.e. how factors such as clouds, evaporation, snow and ice mutually affect one another.
Uncertainties about the overall results of feedback mechanisms make it very difficult to predict just how much of the rise in Earth's mean surface temperature is due to manmade emission
|Contact: Thomas Keilman|
The Research Council of Norway