Global Warming May Actually Be Twice As Hot As Climate Models Projected

A new climate change study warns "Global warming could be far worse than predicted, new study suggests" and "Global Warming Is Worse Than We Thought And Could End Up Double What We Predicted [Study]".

An worldwide team of researchers reviewed warm periods in Earth's history over the past three and a half million years and compared carbon levels to current measurements in order to better understand the impact of even a two-degree temperature rise.

The researchers derived their conclusion from their analysis of three warm periods, namely the Holocene thermal maximum period some 5,000 to 9,000 years earlier, the last interglacial period 129,000 to 116,000 years ago, and the mid-Pliocene period some 3.3 to 3 million years earlier. The rise in the temperature during the first two periods was caused by changes in the Earth's orbit- which could be predicted. The warming during the mid-Pliocene was caused by the high levels of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere- which were around 350-450ppm- nearly equal to the current levels.

The changes to the Earth under these past conditions were profound - there were substantial retreats of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and as a outcome sea-levels rose by at least six metres; marine plankton ranges shifted reorganising entire marine ecosystems; the Sahara became greener and forest species shifted 200 km towards the poles, as did tundra; high altitude species declined, temperate tropical forests were reduced and in Mediterranean areas fire-maintained vegetation dominated. The research also disclosed how massive regions of the polar ice caps could disintegrate and important alterations to ecosystems could witness the Sahara desert become green and boundaries of tropical forests convert into fire dominates Savanna.

They combined measurements from the likes of ice cores and fossil records, then studied the impact of the climatic changes.

The image below, tweeted by study co-author Dr. Nerilie Abram of The Australian National University and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes in Australia, reveals a more detailed look at the past effects of global warming.

Professor Hubertus Fischer from the University of Bern, who is also the lead author of the study said, "Observations of past warming periods suggest that a number of amplifying mechanisms, which are poorly represented in climate models, increase long-term warming beyond climate model projections".

So, what does this mean for the future?

Well, since Earth is now warming at a much faster rate than it did during any of the three global warming events in the past, while human-caused Carbon dioxide emissions are only increasing - and have reached a 60-year high in April, the Inquisitr reported at the time - the future is looking foggy.

The research team warns that earth now is warming at an alarming rate than it ever has, even if all carbon emissions were cut short- it would take us no less than centuries to reach normal average temperatures.

So, what caused the discrepancy in our current climate models?

Mix explained that current models may be relied upon for low-emission scenarios in the decades leading up to 2100, but not really for larger or higher-emission scenarios. "But as the change gets larger or more persistent ... it appears they underestimate climate change".

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