Warming of two degrees inevitable over Canada: study

Mar 04, 2012
SFU geographer Kirsten Zickfeld notes in a new paper she has co-authored that northern hemisphere dwellers will suffer more severe effects of climate change than others.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Even if zero emissions of greenhouse gases were to be achieved, the world’s temperature would continue to rise by about a quarter of a degree over a decade. That’s a best-case scenario, according to a paper co-written by a Simon Fraser University researcher.

New climate change research - Climate response to zeroed emissions of and aerosols — published in Nature's online journal, urges the public, governments and industries to wake up to a harsh new reality.

“Let’s be honest, it’s totally unrealistic to believe that we can stop all emissions now,” says Kirsten Zickfeld, an assistant professor of geography at SFU. “Even with aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation, it will be a challenge to keep the projected global rise in temperature under 2 degrees Celsius,” emphasizes Zickfeld.

The geographer wrote the paper with Damon Matthews, a University of Concordia associate professor at the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment.

The duo used an earth system climate model developed by the University of Victoria to study the impact of greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions on the world’s climate. The study was based on emission levels that are consistent with data from the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The removal of aerosols from the atmosphere would cause additional global warming in the short term, if all of those emissions were removed now. “The widespread presence of aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere is effectively acting like a solar radiation blocking blanket right now,” explains Zickfeld.

“It’s preventing the Earth’s temperature from responding to the real effects of global warming. But once that aerosol-based blanket is removed the temperature will rise.”

Due to the emission of greenhouse gases, the world’s temperature has warmed by almost 1 ° C since the beginning of the industrial era. The study finds that elimination of all emissions would lead to an additional short-term warming by 0.25 to 0.5 degrees.

“One to 1.5 degrees of may not seem like a great deal,” says Zickfeld. “But we need to realize that the warming would not be distributed equally over the globe, with mid to high latitude regions such as Canada, Alaska, northeastern Europe, Russia and northern China being most strongly affected.

“Our research shows that as a result of past emissions, a warming of at least 2 ° C will be unavoidable in those regions.”

This study is the first to find that if all greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions were halted now the Earth’s temperature would actually continue to rise by a few tenths of a degree over the next 10 years. Then it would begin to cool by a few tenths of a degree, coming down to its current level after about a century.

During the warming period the Earth’s temperature would rise to roughly 1.3-Celsius degrees higher than it was at the beginning of the industrial era.

In the northern hemisphere that peak temperature would be closer to 2 degrees higher. The reason is that the warming is not distributed equally over the globe, and is amplified at high latitudes.

“Two degrees is pretty significant,” notes Zickfeld, “when you consider the global temperature was only five degrees colder than today’s during the ice age.”

A decrease in greenhouse gases with short atmospheric lifetimes, such as methane and nitrous oxide, will cause the planet to gradually cool off after the warming phase.

The atmospheric concentration of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide determines the world’s long-term temperature.

This study is also the first to quantify the extent to which past greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions will warm oceans, causing them to rise. Zickfeld and Matthews found to date will lead to about a 25 centimeters sea level rise in 2200, and the sea level will continue to rise for several centuries after that date.

The study doesn’t analyse the impact of other factors, such as melting glaciers and ice sheets, on sea levels. These factors are expected to accelerate rise further.

Explore further: Twenty-first Eastern Pacific tropical depression born on Oct. 30

Provided by Simon Fraser University

4 /5 (13 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fixing climate: Beyond carbon dioxide

Feb 24, 2012

Climate scientists at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this week were elated to hear that the United States and five other countries had agreed to work toward cutting ...

New tool enhances view of muscles

Jan 23, 2012

Simon Fraser University associate professor James Wakeling is adding to the arsenal of increasingly sophisticated medical imaging tools with a new signal-processing method for viewing muscle activation details that have never ...

A new measure of global warming from carbon emissions

Jun 10, 2009

Damon Matthews, a professor in Concordia University's Department of Geography, Planning and the Environment has found a direct relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Matthews, together with colleagues ...

Recommended for you

New study finds oceans arrived early to Earth

13 minutes ago

Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life. While water is essential for life ...

Magma pancakes beneath Lake Toba

13 minutes ago

Where do the tremendous amounts of material that are ejected to from huge volcanic calderas during super-eruptions actually originate?

Fighting the global water scarcity issue

5 hours ago

According to the World Water Management Institute, over one-third of the human population is affected by water scarcity. If nothing is done to prevent it, an estimated 1.8 billion people will be living in ...

First Swedish hard-rock diamonds discovered

5 hours ago

An Uppsala-led research group has presented the first verified discovery of diamonds in Swedish bedrock. The diamonds are small, but provide important clues to the geological evolution of rocks.

User comments : 15

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RazorsEdge
1.9 / 5 (14) Mar 04, 2012
A model is something you tweak until you get the answer you want. To call the authors "researchers" is absurd.
Voleure
2.7 / 5 (10) Mar 04, 2012
Serves Canadians right for abandoning even the pretense of caring. Unfortunately others go down with them, hope you have room up there for a flood of immigrants with really big guns.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.6 / 5 (11) Mar 04, 2012
That is certainly true of Republican Economic models. you remember how David Sotickman (Ronald Reagan's budget director) admitted that he fudged Reagan's budget models to show that Reagan's budget would not set America on a borrow and spend path to Oblivion.

"A model is something you tweak until you get the answer you want." - RazorsEdge

However, Scientists are vastly more ethical, and many hundreds of people are involved in the modeling and verification.

Here is one of them...

http://www.cbc.ca...04901786
RitchieGuy
1 / 5 (9) Mar 04, 2012
LOL. . .scientists are as truthful or unethical liars as is necessary to get their research funded. To think of scientists as saints and do-gooders for the sake of ethics and pure science is to be naive. They are human and fallible just like the rest of humanity. . .only with college degrees and research grants.
And the AGWite scientists have been known to collaborate in lying and scheming to promote the urgency and fraud of global warming.
gregor1
1 / 5 (5) Mar 04, 2012
There are many reasons why we should question the validity of these models. For an objective discussion on this please go here http://judithcurr...part-ii/
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (5) Mar 04, 2012
That is certainly true of Republican Economic models. you remember how David Sotickman (Ronald Reagan's budget director) admitted that he fudged Reagan's budget models to show that Reagan's budget would not set America on a borrow and spend path to Oblivion.

"A model is something you tweak until you get the answer you want." - RazorsEdge

However, Scientists are vastly more ethical, and many hundreds of people are involved in the modeling and verification.

Here is one of them...

http://www.cbc.ca...04901786
gregor1
1 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2012
Ethical hey... like Peter Gleick http://www.ocregi...bal.html Wasn't he the chair of the American Geophysical Union's Task Force on Scientific Ethics. If he was the chair what are the rest of them like? You're a very trusting man Vendicar and it's very sweet. Everyone else though should look on the internet and make up their own minds.
jc_french
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2012
Just look at the globle temperature changes over the past 30,000 yrs. you will see huge temperature changes.
Not controlling our environment is a death sentence to the specie. We must control our environment including things from space that will impact our planet eventually.
So all this crap about who is right and who is lying is wasted nonsense!
As it turns out the Scientist have less reason to lie than any other group, and also have presented better data. As well of having a better record throughout history.
The energy plans for the future are ridicules and in no way will be enough to accomplish our survival.
Some of you that are reading this message are young enough to really be impacted by the lack of regard by your older so called "Leaders" about your future.
I doubt if anything significant will be done about addressing these problems unless you young people put the pressure on BIG TIME RIGHT NOW. So get on the net like never before. It is your lives that will be impacted.
gregor1
1 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2012
A more accurate title for this piece would be
"Warming of two degrees inevitable over Canada: If our models are right"
Have they ever been right? Well..... no.... but... we spent a lot of time on them. Modelers are artists. They're not scientists because there's no testable hypothesis and peer review doesn't really happen. Real review would require the reviewer going through the entire code which would take as long to do as creating it in the first place, Artists create. They're allowed to lie because they created the illusion in the first place. We should celebrate these guys for their imagination.
rubberman
5 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2012
A more accurate title for this piece would be
"Warming of two degrees inevitable over Canada: If our models are right"
Have they ever been right? Well..... no.... but... we spent a lot of time on them.


I have to agree. The IPCC model projected an ice free arctic ocean in 2040, given the current rate of loss they were 20 years too optimistic. This model mentions nothing of forcings due to increased methane from permafrost which is rapidly retreating in all of the countries named in the article. 2 degrees is a wet dream.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2012
LOL. . .scientists are as truthful or unethical liars as is necessary
-Says the farmer with 40 acres of sweet sorghum which he is going to turn into ethanol by magic.
. . .only with college degrees and research grants.
Says the poster flooder who thinks these things are not necessary to do physics, climate science, metallurgy, etc. Only the power of the wounded brain and 300 lbs of dumbass. LOL.
gregor1
1 / 5 (4) Mar 05, 2012
@rubberman So did the temperature rise exponentially before the Roman and Medieval warm periods because of methane forcing as I suppose the permafrost melted then too? Perhaps.... but the human population seemed to do pretty well out of it. Increased temperature may cause more evaporation and more clouds. The increased albedo of clouds forces the temperature back down. I'm guessing their model didn't account for either let alone cosmic rays and cloud formation..
gregor1
1 / 5 (4) Mar 06, 2012
You are not one of these guys by any chance rubberman?http://www.green-agenda.com/
rubberman
5 / 5 (4) Mar 06, 2012
Yes I founded the club of Rome, and coincidentally it was during a "club of rome" ball hockey scrum when Mann unleashed a slapshot @ Watts head (hit him right between the eyes...sounded pretty hollow), where Ban ki Moon said hey...I have an idea for all graphs representing humanity's effect on the planet.

If temperatures rose exponentially here on earth we would find the surface of the sun quite comfortable for habitation there Capital "G".

As far as the human population doing well due to the warmer climate, of course they did...all 40 million during the Roman and all 70 million during the MWP flourished in no small part due to the heat. Using this point to try to prove warmer is better always makes me laugh because of how narrow minded that line of thought is when you drop the same circumstances on a world with 7 billion people who act as a giant climate forcing due to our activities. Even if we aren't causing the warming, our CO2 input creates a feedback.

rubberman
5 / 5 (4) Mar 06, 2012
An erratic climate will snap the ties that bind our world together like a dry twig. Look at the drought in spain, South central US, 2010 in russia, china. Massive flooding on the plains in both Canada and the US, this winters extended cold snap in eastern Europe . A society based on money cant afford to foot the bill for repairs and reconstructs of ever increasing frequency and magnitude. Add on truly natural disasters like quakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornados and the equation looks pretty bad for a world already in an extended economic downturn. People on this forum bitch about socialist governments trying to take away their "lifestyle" by using green initiatives as an excuse for excess taxes. I have friends in arizona who take military showers 3 days per week to conserve water and use the runoff for gardening and lawncare. It's the air conditioned shower a day crowd who don't think they should give that up so someone else can drink. When it's your countrymen, you'll have to.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.