In the long term, the Earth’s temperature may be 30-50% more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide than has previously been estimated, reports a new study published in Nature Geoscience this week. The results show that components of the Earth’s climate system that vary over long timescales – such as land-ice and vegetation – have an important effect on this temperature sensitivity, but these factors are often neglected in current climate models.
An interesting addition to our understanding. Including the amount of heat retained by vegetation and land ice did a much better job of recreating the data. From the press release:
Including these long-term processes in the model resulted in an increased temperature response of the Earth to carbon dioxide, indicating that the Earth’s temperature is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than previously recognised. Climate models used by bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change often do not fully include these long-term processes, thus these models do not entirely represent the sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to carbon dioxide.
Temperature could be 30-50% more sensitive to carbon dioxide levels than previously modeled. If so, then the temperature 50 years from now could be much higher than expected.