Global carbon emissions may have temperate Earth by 18% more than formerly thought, hoisting the outlook of the world having less time than estimated to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and evade tragic climate change.
The global average temperature is expected to have scaled about 1.07°C since the industrial revolution, up from a prior estimate of 0.91°C.
This revise brings all three of the world’s key temperature data sets in the line, signifying the real temperature rise is at the higher end of preceding ranges.
The result means governments may have less time to limit carbon emissions to grasp the temperature rise to 1.5°C or 2°C under the Paris contract, and recent estimates of future warming may rise too.
“Climate change hasn’t rapidly got worse. It’s just our assessment of how much warming has taken place has enhanced,” says Tim Osborn at the University of East Anglia, UK, who today published a paper with Met Office colleagues on the fifth update to the data, known as the Hadley Centre Climatic Research Unit Temperature (HadCRUT5).
The 18% increase is the highest in years of HadCRUT revisions but brings it approximately in line with the two other main data sets used to observe global temperatures, run by US agencies NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It is remarkable how strongly these three independent data sets now resemble one another, says Kate Marvel at Columbia University, New York, who wasn’t engaged to Osborn’s paper.
The change was overdue, say, climate scientists. “Honestly, many of us have extensively documented that the HadCRUT data set overestimated the warming,” says Michael Mann at Pennsylvania State University.
There are two key reasons for the 0.16°C upwards changes in the previous warming. The biggest was changes to how the HadCRUT team looked at sea surface temperatures, distinctively how it was calculated by ships taking the temperature of seawater in their engine rooms.
The new is that gaps in the data set’s reporting of the Arctic, which has been warming two to three times as fast as the global average, have been filled in. Before grid squares for the region were left empty if there was no observational data – now they are expected with data from nearby squares.
The new research may efficiently minimize the world’s carbon budget, the amount that can be emitted without breaching temperature targets. The UN’s climate science panel, the IPCC, said in 2018 that global emissions need to roughly halve by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to have a two-thirds chance of staying under 1.5°C.
It is too early to say how much today’s update may change that timeline. “The IPCC has overestimated the available carbon budget through choices that tend to underestimate the warming we’ve already experienced. That, of course, means that there is a lot more work to do if we are to avoid dangerous warming,” says Mann.
The other outcome of the elevated warming is some estimates of climate sensitivity – how much the world will warm based on a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide – will rise slightly, says Osborn.
In the end, the review to HadCRUT doesn’t significantly change our situation, researchers told New Scientist, as governments and scientists rely on more than one of the key temperature data sets. “None of these things modifies the big picture: the earth is warming and it’s because of human activities,” says Gavin Schmidt at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Journal Reference: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, DOI: 10.1029/2019JD032361
To Read: What is the Climate Action Summit?
The Climate Action Summit is over. Some 70 Heads of Government, along with local and city leaders, and heads of major businesses, have delivered a series of new measures, policies and plans, aimed at making a big hollow in greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring that the warming of the planet is limited to 1.5°C.
The number of states coming frontward with reinforced national climate plans (NDCs) grew remarkably today, with commitments covering some of the top emitters globally on display.
The UK, which is organizing next year’s UN Climate Conference, declared that it aims to cut emissions by 68%, compared to 1990 levels, within the next five years, and the European Union bloc committed to a 55% cut over the same time dated.
At least 24 states announced new pledges, strategies or plans to reach carbon neutrality, and several states set out how they are going even more, with resolute dates to reach net-zero: Finland by 2035, Austria by 2040 and Sweden by 2045.
Pakistan declared that its sparring plans for new coal power plants, India will soon more than double its renewable energy target, and China committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuel in primary energy consumption to around 25% by 2030.
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