Climate Change 2001:
Working Group I: The Scientific Basis
Other reports in this collection

F.3 Projections of Future Changes in Temperature

AOGCM results


Figure 20: The annual mean change of the temperature (colour shading) and its range (isolines) (Unit: °C) for the SRES scenario A2 (upper panel) and the SRES scenario B2 (lower panel). Both SRES scenarios show the period 2071 to 2100 relative to the period 1961 to 1990 and were performed by OAGCMs. [Based on Figures 9.10d and 9.10e]

Figure 21: Analysis of inter-model consistency in regional relative warming (warming relative to each model's global average warming). Regions are classified as showing either agreement on warming in excess of 40% above the global average (‘Much greater than average warming'), agreement on warming greater than the global average (‘Greater than average warming'), agreement on warming less than the global average (‘Less than average warming'), or disagreement amongst models on the magnitude of regional relative warming (‘Inconsistent magnitude of warming'). There is also a category for agreement on cooling (which never occurs). A consistent result from at least seven of the nine models is deemed necessary for agreement. The global annual average warming of the models used span 1.2 to 4.5°C for A2 and 0.9 to 3.4°C for B2, and therefore a regional 40% amplification represents warming ranges of 1.7 to 6.3°C for A2 and 1.3 to 4.7°C for B2. [Based on Chapter 10, Box 1 , Figure 1]
Figure 22: Simple model results: (a) global mean temperature projections for the six illustrative SRES scenarios using a simple climate model tuned to a number of complex models with a range of climate sensitivities. Also for comparison, following the same method, results are shown for IS92a. The darker shading represents the envelope of the full set of thirty-five SRES scenarios using the average of the model results (mean climate sensitivity is 2.8°C). The lighter shading is the envelope based on all seven model projections (with climate sensitivity in the range 1.7 to 4.2°C). The bars show, for each of the six illustrative SRES scenarios, the range of simple model results in 2100 for the seven AOGCM model tunings.
(b) Same as (a) but results using estimated historical anthropogenic forcing are also used. [Based on Figures 9.14 and 9.13b]
Climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5°C. This estimate is unchanged from the first IPCC Assessment Report in 1990 and the SAR. The climate sensitivity is the equilibrium response of global surface temperature to a doubling of equivalent CO2 concentration. The range of estimates arises from uncertainties in the climate models and their internal feedbacks, particularly those related to clouds and related processes. Used for the first time in this IPCC report is the Transient Climate Response (TCR). The TCR is defined as the globally averaged surface air temperature change, at the time of doubling of CO2, in a 1%/yr CO2-increase experiment. This rate of CO2 increase is assumed to represent the radiative forcing from all greenhouse gases. The TCR combines elements of model sensitivity and factors that affect response (e.g., ocean heat uptake). The range of the TCR for current AOGCMs is 1.1 to 3.1°C.

Including the direct effect of sulphate aerosols reduces global mean mid-21st century warming. The surface temperature response pattern for a given model, with and without sulphate aerosols, is more similar than the pattern between two models using the same forcing.

Models project changes in several broad-scale climate variables. As the radiative forcing of the climate system changes, the land warms faster and more than the ocean, and there is greater relative warming at high latitudes. Models project a smaller surface air temperature increase in the North Atlantic and circumpolar southern ocean regions relative to the global mean. There is projected to be a decrease in diurnal temperature range in many areas, with night-time lows increasing more than daytime highs. A number of models show a general decrease of daily variability of surface air temperature in winter and increased daily variability in summer in the Northern Hemisphere land areas. As the climate warms, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover and sea-ice extent are projected to decrease. Many of these changes are consistent with recent observational trends, as noted in Section B.

Multi-model ensembles of AOGCM simulations for a range of scenarios are being used to quantify the mean climate change and uncertainty based on the range of model results. For the end of the 21st century (2071 to 2100), the mean change in global average surface air temperature, relative to the period 1961 to 1990, is 3.0°C (with a range of 1.3 to 4.5°C) for the A2 draft marker scenario and 2.2°C (with a range of 0.9 to 3.4°C) for the B2 draft marker scenario. The B2 scenario produces a smaller warming that is consistent with its lower rate of increased CO2 concentration.

On time-scales of a few decades, the current observed rate of warming can be used to constrain the projected response to a given emissions scenario despite uncertainty in climate sensitivity. Analysis of simple models and intercomparisons of AOGCM responses to idealised forcing scenarios suggest that, for most scenarios over the coming decades, errors in large-scale temperature projections are likely to increase in proportion to the magnitude of the overall response. The estimated size of and uncertainty in current observed warming rates attributable to human influence thus provides a relatively model-independent estimate of uncertainty in multi-decade projections under most scenarios. To be consistent with recent observations, anthropogenic warming is likely to lie in the range 0.1 to 0.2°C/decade over the next few decades under the IS92a scenario. This is similar to the range of responses to this scenario based on the seven versions of the simple model used in Figure 22.

Most of the features of the geographical response in the SRES scenario experiments are similar for different scenarios (see Figure 20) and are similar to those for idealised 1% CO2-increase integrations. The biggest difference between the 1% CO2-increase experiments, which have no sulphate aerosol, and the SRES experiments is the regional moderating of the warming over industrialised areas, in the SRES experiments, where the negative forcing from sulphate aerosols is greatest. This regional effect was noted in the SAR for only two models, but this has now been shown to be a consistent response across the greater number of more recent models.

It is very likely that nearly all land areas will warm more rapidly than the global average, particularly those at northern high latitudes in the cold season. Results (see Figure 21) from recent AOGCM simulations forced with SRES A2 and B2 emissions scenarios indicate that in winter the warming for all high-latitude northern regions exceeds the global mean warming in each model by more than 40% (1.3 to 6.3°C for the range of models and scenarios considered). In summer, warming is in excess of 40% above the global mean change in central and northern Asia. Only in south Asia and southern South America in June/July/ August, and Southeast Asia for both seasons, do the models consistently show warming less than the global average.

Simple climate model results

Due to computational expense, AOGCMs can only be run for a limited number of scenarios. A simple model can be calibrated to represent globally averaged AOGCM responses and run for a much larger number of scenarios.

The globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8°C (Figure 22(a)) over the period 1990 to 2100. These results are for the full range of 35 SRES scenarios, based on a number of climate models. 6, 7 Temperature increases are projected to be greater than those in the SAR, which were about 1.0 to 3.5°C based on six IS92 scenarios. The higher projected temperatures and the wider range are due primarily to the lower projected SO2 emissions in the SRES scenarios relative to the IS92 scenarios. The projected rate of warming is much larger than the observed changes during the 20th century and is very likely to be without precedent during at least the last 10,000 years, based on palaeoclimate data.

The relative ranking of the SRES scenarios in terms of global mean temperature changes with time. In particular, for scenarios with higher fossil fuel use (hence, higher carbon dioxide emissions, e.g., A2), the SO2 emissions are also higher. In the near term (to around 2050), the cooling effect of higher sulphur dioxide emissions significantly reduces the warming caused by increased emissions of greenhouse gases in scenarios such as A2. The opposite effect is seen for scenarios B1 and B2, which have lower fossil fuel emissions as well as lower SO2 emissions, and lead to a larger near-term warming. In the longer term, however, the level of emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases such as CO2 and N2O become the dominant determinants of the resulting climate changes.

By 2100, differences in emissions in the SRES scenarios and different climate model responses contribute similar uncertainty to the range of global temperature change. Further uncertainties arise due to uncertainties in the radiative forcing. The largest forcing uncertainty is that due to the sulphate aerosols.


Other reports in this collection