A new study, which researchers have called “the most exhaustive end-to-end analysis of climate change impacts yet performed”, predicts that global warming could be twice as bad as previous estimates had suggested.
Published this month in the Journal of Climate, the MIT-based research found a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise at least 9 degrees by 2100.
Pulling from a variety of data sources back in 2007, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) projected temperature increases anywhere from 2 to 11 degrees by the end of the century. Now due to this new data, it looks like the higher range of that projection may be closer to the truth.
The new study was done using 400 applications of a computer model, which included looking at complicated factors such as atmospheric, oceanic and biological systems data, as well as global economic activity. A similar 2003 study had predicted a mere– but still significant– 4 degree increase in global temperatures by 2100, but those models weren’t nearly as comprehensive, and they didn’t take into consideration economic factors.
The most impactful way to lower the projections would be to significantly reduce human-produced greenhouse gas emissions, according to the researchers.
While complex factors such as human economic activity can be difficult to quantify exactly in a computer model, it’s increasingly clear that those kinds of factors have a significant impact on global climate. As this study portrays, the more comprehensive and sophisticated our computer models get, the grimmer the news.
In other words, as our models become increasingly more accurate compared to previous models, global warming reveals itself as more acute rather than less. And it becomes much more apparent just how large of an impact human-induced factors can have on climate change.