|A break in the clouds on October 29, 2014, allowed scientists |
the opportunity to fly over Pine Island Glacier—one of Antarctica’s
most rapidly changing areas. The flight was part of NASA’s
Operation IceBridge, a mission that makes annual surveys
of Greenland and Antarctica with instrumented research aircraft.
Photo Michael Studinger
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Two recent publications offer some startling insights. The first by hockey-stick author Michael Mann estimates when the Earth can be expected to reach a level of 2°C warming (3.5°F) of the atmosphere. The answer it seems is very soon. Mann assumes business as usual in carbon emissions, which are increasing in amount every year, and the effect of the carbon dioxide (CO2) already in the atmosphere. These numbers are easy to come by, but he has to come up with a climate sensitivity model to translate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere into warming. He determines that an equilibrium climate sensitivity about midway between estimates of the IPCC best-fit recent climate data. From this he projects forward and estimates the year Earth’s atmosphere reaches 2°C warming is 2036, twenty-one years from now. This is much sooner than estimates by the IPCC.