Exeter scientists publish climate change warning

Exeter scientists publish climate change warning

1st October 2010


AN analysis of geological records that preserve details of the last

known period of global warming has revealed ‘startling’ results which

suggest current targets for limiting climate change are unsafe.

The study by climate change experts at the University of Exeter has

important implications for international negotiators aiming to agree

binding targets for future greenhouse gas emission targets.

Professor Chris Turney and Dr Richard Jones, both from the

University’s Department of Geography, have reported a comprehensive

study of the Last Interglacial, a period of warming some 125,000 years

ago, in the latest issue of the Journal of Quaternary Science.

The results reveal the European Union target of limiting global

temperature rise to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels shouldn’t

be considered ‘safe’.

From their analysis, the scientists found 263 estimates of the

conditions when sediments and ice were laid down during the Last

Interglacial, allowing them to reconstruct past temperatures around

the globe.

To compare the reconstructed estimates with today, they took the Last

Interglacial values away from modern temperatures averaged over the

period 1961 to 1990.

The results show temperatures appear to have been more than 5°C

warmer in polar regions while the tropics only warmed marginally;

strikingly similar to recent trends. Not only this, but taken together,

the world appears to have been some 1.9°C warmer when compared

to preindustrial temperatures.

Critically, the warmer temperatures appear to have resulted in global

sea levels some 6.6 to 9.4 metres higher than today, with a rate of

rise of between 60 to 90 centimetres per decade — more than double

that recently observed.

The higher temperatures seen during the Last Interglacial are

comparable to projections for the end of this century under the low

emission scenarios contained within the recent Fourth Assessment

Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Professor Turney said: “The results here are quite startling and,

importantly, they suggest sea levels will rise significantly higher than

anticipated and that stabilizing global average temperatures at 2°C

above pre-industrial levels may not be considered a ‘safe’ target as

envisaged by the European Union and others.

"The inevitable conclusion is emission targets will have to be lowered

further still.”

The full paper, Does the Agulhas Current amplify global temperatures

during super-interglacials?, appears in the latest edition of the Journal

of Quarternary Science.

It can be viewed here:


High Sealevel Temp 10.pdf


~ by Cory Morningstar on October 4, 2010.

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