Saturday, December 20, 2008

UK's Met Office warn of 'catastrophic' rise in temperature

The Times (UK): When it comes to climate change, scientific evidence provides critical information for decision making. ... Failures could have far-reaching consequences and so the Met Office has conducted a series of ‘what if?’ climate projections, to give a better understanding of what those consequences might be.

Latest climate projections from the Met Office Hadley Centre show the possible range of temperature rises, depending on what action is taken to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions. Even with large and early cuts in emissions, the indications are that temperatures are likely to rise to around 2 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. If action is delayed or not quick enough, there is a large risk of much bigger increases in temperature, with some severe impacts.

In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5 °C by the end of the century. This would lead to significant risks of severe and irreversible impacts.

In the most optimistic scenario, action to reduce emissions would need to start in 2010 and reach a rapid and sustained rate of decline of 3 per cent every year. Even then there would still only be a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below around 2°C. This contrasts sharply with current trends, where the world’s overall emissions are currently increasing at 1 per cent every year

…At higher temperatures plant matter in the soil breaks down more quickly releasing carbon more quickly and amplifying any warming. In addition methane and carbon dioxide released from the thawing of permafrost will add to the warming. Hence the risks of dangerous climate change will not increase slowly as Greenhouse gases increase. Instead, the risks will multiply if we do not reduce emissions fast enough...

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