The earth will warm about 2.4 C (4.3 F) above pre-industrial levels even under extremely conservative greenhouse-gas emission scenarios and under the assumption that efforts to clean up particulate pollution continue to be successful, according to a new analysis by a pair of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
That amount of warming falls within what the world's leading climate change authority recently set as the threshold range of temperature increase that would lead to widespread loss of biodiversity, deglaciation and other adverse consequences in nature. The researchers, writing in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argue that coping with these circumstances will require "transformational research for guiding the path of future energy consumption."
"This paper demonstrates the major challenges society will have to face in dealing with a problem that now seems unavoidable," said the paper's lead author, Scripps Atmospheric and Climate Sciences Professor V. Ramanathan. "We hope that governments will not be forced to consider trade-offs between air pollution abatement and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions."
In their analysis, Ramanathan and co-author Yan Feng, a Scripps postdoctoral research fellow, assumed a highly optimistic scenario that greenhouse gas concentrations would remain constant at 2005 levels for the next century. For the concentrations to remain at 2005 levels, the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide must decrease drastically within the next decade. Economic expansion, however, is expected to see emissions increase. The researchers then analyzed expected future warming by assuming that the cooling effect of man-made aerosol pollution will be eliminated during the 21st Century. Currently, particulate air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion, forest fires and smoke from cooking and agricultural waste burning s
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University of California - San Diego