Scientists firm up global climate forecasts
LONDON - While some meteorologists have difficulty getting the five-day forecast right, climatologists have firmed up their predictions of how much warmer the climate will be over the next 20 to 30 years.
New research by two teams of scientists using different climate models predicts the global mean temperature will be between 0.3 and 1.3 degrees Centigrade (about 0.5-2.3 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer by 2020-2030 than it was in 1990-2000.
Later in the century, if greenhouse gas emissions are at the high end of predictions, they could force up temperatures by 0.3 to seven degrees C (0.5-13 degrees F).
\"The estimate we are producing over the next 20 to 30 years is very much in line with previous estimates,\" said Peter Stott of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Britain.
His analysis, which is reported in the science journal Nature, is based on an atmosphere-ocean global climate model, but it is in line with results of a study by Thomas Stocker and scientists at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
They used a different climate model which estimated a 0.5-1.1 degree C increase over the next three decades.
\"What we\'re providing are uncertainty estimates of future climate change that can be used by planners and policy makers. We\'re providing information that people can use in the form of a distribution of the likely temperature changes,\" Stott added in an interview.
In a commentary on the research, Francis Zwiers of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in British Columbia said the studies in the journal produce a consistent picture of future climate change.
\"For the near term, projections made by different models with different emission scenarios produce remarkably similar results on the global scale,\" he said.
Zwiers noted that the upper estimates of both teams of scientists for temperatures at the end of the century may be higher than predictions by the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which estimates the average global temperature could be as much as six degrees C higher than it was in 1990.
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