Friday, September 13, 2013

UK's Met Office promises new tools to better understand global warming

Alok Jha in the Guardian (UK): Better predictions of how extreme weather events will be affected by climate change and improvements in models to help understand more local impacts are set to improve understanding of global warming in the future, according to the UK's Met Office.

The conclusions are part of a public briefing document prepared by scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre, in advance of the release of a landmark report from the UN's climate science panel due later this month.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fifth assessment report (AR5) will lay down the current state of the science and the potential impacts of a warming world by collating climate simulations and data sets from multiple research institutes around the world, including the Hadley Centre, to provide the most comprehensive update on the state of climate science since the IPCC's last report in 2007.

The eight-page Met Office briefing sums up the techniques used to build climate models and lists what it calls the "key issues" in climate science, areas where there have been significant updates in the science since 2007 and where the Met Office's ongoing work will be relevant in answering questions. These include how extreme weather events will be influenced by climate change and exactly how to improve future climate models to provide more accurate predictions of temperatures and sea level rise later in the century. This, said the Met Office scientists, will be done largely by finding ways to incorporate their more sophisticated understanding of the effects of changes in vegetation and the melting of permafrost and ice sheets.

"Global temperatures are expected to rise in the future, although the rate of warming will not be continuous as natural variability is superimposed upon long term changes," scientists write in the Met Office briefing. "The amount of warming will also depend on emissions of greenhouse gases, changes in land use, and other factors – such as emissions of aerosols, which can have temporary cooling effects."...

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