If the Earth’s remaining untapped fossil-fuel resources are burned – the equivalent of five trillion tonnes of carbon emissions – the average global temperature is predicted to increase by between 6.4°C and 9.5°C, with Arctic temperatures warming between 14.7°C and 19.5°C, according to a paper published this week in Nature Climate Change. The strong warming increase is considerably larger than previously anticipated.
Lead author of the study is Katarzyna Tokarska, a PhD student studying climate change and analysis at the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.
The modelling study uses simulations from comprehensive climate models to explore the relationship between warming and the total amount of potential carbon emissions, based on estimates of world fossil-fuel reserves.
“Our study shows a profound climate change in the absence of further mitigation,” says Tokarska. How the earth’s climate responds to such high levels of emissions adds a new dimension to scientific knowledge, says Tokarska.
Other authors of the paper include Nathan Gillett, Canadian Centre of Climate Modelling and Analysis, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Andrew Weaver, UVic School of Earth and Ocean Sciences; Vivek Arora, Canadian Centre of Climate Modelling and Analysis, Environment and Climate Change Canada; and Michael Eby, UVic School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University.
More information on the paper, The climate response to five trillion tonnes of carbon, can be found at: nature.com/nclimate/index.html.