The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment
Currently, a new generation of climate scenarios is being developed to enable a better understanding of the influence that greenhouse gases have on our climate. For the first time, these scenarios will focus on the various objectives of climate policy, varying from ‘no climate policy’ to ‘very ambitious climate policy’. In addition, knowledge is being integrated into these scenarios from various disciplines in the field of climate science. The scenarios are being developed by a team of international scientists, including from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). In an article in the scientific journal Nature, these scientists describe not only how the new scenarios are being developed, but also what the results are from the first step in this process, what these scenarios mean, and how they can be applied in further research.
Researching the effectiveness of climate policy
The greenhouse gas emission pathways developed will form the basis of research into the costs of climate policy, changes in the climate system, and climate effects. This will paint a better picture of the pros and cons of the various climate objectives, including the two-degree target set by the Dutch Government. Calculations, using complex climate models, are expected to produce first results by the end of 2010. The scenarios will also be used in the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate reports, to be published from 2013 onwards.
As current climate models take into account the influences of greenhouse gases, air pollution and land-use change, the new scenarios require more detailed and additional information than the old ones. Therefore, for each scenario, new worldwide maps have been made on future development of greenhouse gases, air pollution (VOC, CO, SO2, NOx, aerosols), and land use. In addition, new databases have been built for the period between 1850 and 2000.
Possibly two to six or more degreesT
he scenario for ‘very ambitious climate policy’ is aimed at achieving a greenhouse gas concentration level of 450 parts per million (ppm) in CO2 equivalents. This level is required for limiting the worldwide temperature increase to two degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels. The scenario variant for ‘no climate policy’ leads to a greenhouse gas concentration of around 1400 ppm in CO2 equivalents, by the year 2100, which could lead to a worldwide temperature increase of six degrees or more.
|Author(s)||Richard H. Moss, Jae A. Edmonds, Kathy A. Hibbard, Martin R. Manning, Steven K. Rose, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Timothy R. Carter, Seita Emori, Mikiko Kainuma, Tom Kram, Gerald A. Meehl, John F. B. Mitchell, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Keywan Riahi, Steven J. Smith, Ronald J. Stouffer, Allison M. Thomson, John P. Weyant & Thomas J. Wilbanks|
|Publication||Nature 463, 747-756 (11 February 2010)|