London, Mar 26 (): More than 6,000 record high temperatures already set this month, global temperatures could rise by 1.4-3.0C (2.5-5.4F) above levels for late last century by 2050, a computer simulation has suggested. The study findings are based on the results of 10,000 computer model simulations of future weather overseen by researchers.
The projections, published in Nature Geoscience, are somewhat higher than those from other models. “These are the first results to suggest that the higher warming scenario could be plausible,” says study lead author Dan Rowlands of Oxford.
It is a faster rate of warming than most other models predict. According to the findings, the world is very likely to cross the critical “two degrees barrier” at some point this century if emissions continue unabated. Experts believe warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels could trigger runaway climate change that cannot be reversed.
And the forecast range was derived from models that accurately reproduced observed temperature changes over the last 50 years. The low-end of their range is similar to that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2007 report, but the high-end is somewhat above the range their analysis produced.
“It’s only by running such a large number of simulations — with model versions deliberately chosen to display a range of behavior — that you can get a handle on the uncertainty present in a complex system such as our climate,” says Rowlands.
The research was described as “an important step toward estimating uncertainty more comprehensively,” by Gabi Hegerl, professor of climate system science at the University of Edinburgh.
The results were also described as “very promising” by Prof Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.
The earth’s average temperature during the decade of 2000-2010 was almost a full degree higher than the average from 1960-90, Rowlands says.