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Now showing 1 - 10 of 16
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    Predictability of twentieth century sea-level rise from past data
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2013) Bittermann, Klaus; Rahmstorf, Stefan; Perrette, Mahé; Vermeer, Martin
    The prediction of global sea-level rise is one of the major challenges of climate science. While process-based models are still being improved to capture the complexity of the processes involved, semi-empirical models, exploiting the observed connection between global-mean sea level and global temperature and calibrated with data, have been developed as a complementary approach. Here we investigate whether twentieth century sea-level rise could have been predicted with such models given a knowledge of twentieth century global temperature increase. We find that either proxy or early tide gauge data do not hold enough information to constrain the model parameters well. However, in combination, the use of proxy and tide gauge sea-level data up to 1900 AD allows a good prediction of twentieth century sea-level rise, despite this rise being well outside the rates experienced in previous centuries during the calibration period of the model. The 90% confidence range for the linear twentieth century rise predicted by the semi-empirical model is 13–30 cm, whereas the observed interval (using two tide gauge data sets) is 14–26 cm.
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    Extreme fire events are related to previous-year surface moisture conditions in permafrost-underlain larch forests of Siberia
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2012) Forkel, Matthias; Thonicke, Kirsten; Beer, Christian; Cramer, Wolfgang; Bartalev, Sergey; Schmullius, Christiane
    Wildfires are a natural and important element in the functioning of boreal forests. However, in some years, fires with extreme spread and severity occur. Such severe fires can degrade the forest, affect human values, emit huge amounts of carbon and aerosols and alter the land surface albedo. Usually, wind, slope and dry air conditions have been recognized as factors determining fire spread. Here we identify surface moisture as an additional important driving factor for the evolution of extreme fire events in the Baikal region. An area of 127 000 km2 burned in this region in 2003, a large part of it in regions underlain by permafrost. Analyses of satellite data for 2002–2009 indicate that previous-summer surface moisture is a better predictor for burned area than precipitation anomalies or fire weather indices for larch forests with continuous permafrost. Our analysis advances the understanding of complex interactions between the atmosphere, vegetation and soil, and how coupled mechanisms can lead to extreme events. These findings emphasize the importance of a mechanistic coupling of soil thermodynamics, hydrology, vegetation functioning, and fire activity in Earth system models for projecting climate change impacts over the next century.
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    Projections for headwater catchments of the Tarim River reveal glacier retreat and decreasing surface water availability but uncertainties are large
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2016) Duethmann, Doris; Menz, Christoph; Jiang, Tong; Vorogushyn, Sergiy
    In the Tarim River Basin, water resources from the mountain areas play a key role due to the extremely arid climate of the lowlands. This study presents an analysis of future climate change impacts on glaciers and surface water availability for headwater catchments of the Aksu River, the most important tributary to the Tarim River. We applied a glacio-hydrological model that underwent a comprehensive multivariable and multiobjective model calibration and evaluation, based on daily and interannual discharge variations and glacier mass changes. Transient glacier geometry changes are simulated using the Δh-approach. For the ensemble-based projections, we considered three different emission scenarios, nine global climate models (GCMs) and two regional climate models, and different hydrological model parameters derived from the multiobjective calibration. The results show a decline in glacier area of −90% to −32% until 2099 (reference ~2008) (based on the 5–95 percentile range of the ensemble). Glacier melt is anticipated to further increase or stay at a high level during the first decades of the 21st century, but then declines because of decreased glacier extents. Overall discharge in the Aksu headwaters is expected to be increased in the period 2010–2039 (reference 1971–2000), but decreased in 2070–2099. Seasonally, projections show an increase in discharge in spring and early summer throughout the 21st century. Discharge changes in mid to late summer are more variable, with increases or decreases depending on the considered period and GCM. Uncertainties are largely caused by differences between the different GCMs, with further important contributions from different emission scenarios in the second half of the 21st century. Contributions from the hydrological model parameters to the ensemble uncertainty were generally found to be small.
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    Impacts of 1.5 versus 2.0 °c on cereal yields in the West African Sudan Savanna
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2018) Faye, Babacar; Webber, Heidi; Naab, Jesse B.; MacCarthy, Dilys S.; Adam, Myriam; Ewert, Frank; Lamers, John P.A.; Schleussner, Carl-Friedrich; Ruane, Alex; Gessner, Ursula; Hoogenboom, Gerrit; Boote, Ken; Shelia, Vakhtang; Saeed, Fahad; Wisser, Dominik; Hadir, Sofia; Laux, Patrick; Gaiser, Thomas
    To reduce the risks of climate change, governments agreed in the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to less than 2.0 °C above pre-industrial levels, with the ambition to keep warming to 1.5 °C. Charting appropriate mitigation responses requires information on the costs of mitigating versus associated damages for the two levels of warming. In this assessment, a critical consideration is the impact on crop yields and yield variability in regions currently challenged by food insecurity. The current study assessed impacts of 1.5 °C versus 2.0 °C on yields of maize, pearl millet and sorghum in the West African Sudan Savanna using two crop models that were calibrated with common varieties from experiments in the region with management reflecting a range of typical sowing windows. As sustainable intensification is promoted in the region for improving food security, simulations were conducted for both current fertilizer use and for an intensification case (fertility not limiting). With current fertilizer use, results indicated 2% units higher losses for maize and sorghum with 2.0 °C compared to 1.5 °C warming, with no change in millet yields for either scenario. In the intensification case, yield losses due to climate change were larger than with current fertilizer levels. However, despite the larger losses, yields were always two to three times higher with intensification, irrespective of the warming scenario. Though yield variability increased with intensification, there was no interaction with warming scenario. Risk and market analysis are needed to extend these results to understand implications for food security.
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    US power plant sites at risk of future sea-level rise
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2015) Bierkandt, R.; Auffhammer, M.; Levermann, A.
    Unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions may increase global mean sea-level by about 1 meter during this century. Such elevation of the mean sea-level enhances the risk of flooding of coastal areas. We compute the power capacity that is currently out-of-reach of a 100-year coastal flooding but will be exposed to such a flood by the end of the century for different US states, if no adaptation measures are taken. The additional exposed capacity varies strongly among states. For Delaware it is 80% of the mean generated power load. For New York this number is 63% and for Florida 43%. The capacity that needs additional protection compared to today increases by more than 250% for Texas, 90% for Florida and 70% for New York. Current development in power plant building points towards a reduced future exposure to sea-level rise: proposed and planned power plants are less exposed than those which are currently operating. However, power plants that have been retired or canceled were less exposed than those operating at present. If sea-level rise is properly accounted for in future planning, an adaptation to sea-level rise may be costly but possible.
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    Historic and future increase in the global land area affected by monthly heat extremes
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2013) Coumou, Dim; Robinson, Alexander
    Climatic warming of about 0.5 ° C in the global mean since the 1970s has strongly increased the occurrence-probability of heat extremes on monthly to seasonal time scales. For the 21st century, climate models predict more substantial warming. Here we show that the multi-model mean of the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) climate models accurately reproduces the evolution over time and spatial patterns of the historically observed increase in monthly heat extremes. For the near-term (i.e., by 2040), the models predict a robust, several-fold increase in the frequency of such heat extremes, irrespective of the emission scenario. However, mitigation can strongly reduce the number of heat extremes by the second half of the 21st century. Unmitigated climate change causes most (>50%) continental regions to move to a new climatic regime with the coldest summer months by the end of the century substantially hotter than the hottest experienced today. We show that the land fraction experiencing extreme heat as a function of global mean temperature follows a simple cumulative distribution function, which depends only on natural variability and the level of spatial heterogeneity in the warming.
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    Teleconnected food supply shocks
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2016) Bren d'Amour, Christopher; Wenz, Leonie; Kalkuhl, Matthias; Steckel, Jan Christoph; Creutzig, Felix
    The 2008–2010 food crisis might have been a harbinger of fundamental climate-induced food crises with geopolitical implications. Heat-wave-induced yield losses in Russia and resulting export restrictions led to increases in market prices for wheat across the Middle East, likely contributing to the Arab Spring. With ongoing climate change, temperatures and temperature variability will rise, leading to higher uncertainty in yields for major nutritional crops. Here we investigate which countries are most vulnerable to teleconnected supply-shocks, i.e. where diets strongly rely on the import of wheat, maize, or rice, and where a large share of the population is living in poverty. We find that the Middle East is most sensitive to teleconnected supply shocks in wheat, Central America to supply shocks in maize, and Western Africa to supply shocks in rice. Weighing with poverty levels, Sub-Saharan Africa is most affected. Altogether, a simultaneous 10% reduction in exports of wheat, rice, and maize would reduce caloric intake of 55 million people living in poverty by about 5%. Export bans in major producing regions would put up to 200 million people below the poverty line at risk, 90% of which live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our results suggest that a region-specific combination of national increases in agricultural productivity and diversification of trade partners and diets can effectively decrease future food security risks.
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    Risks for the global freshwater system at 1.5 °c and 2 °c global warming
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2018) Döll, Petra; Trautmann, Tim; Gerten, Dieter; Müller Schmied, Hannes; Ostberg, Sebastian; Saaed, Fahad; Schleussner, Carl-Friedrich
    To support implementation of the Paris Agreement, the new HAPPI ensemble of 20 bias-corrected simulations of four climate models was used to drive two global hydrological models, WaterGAP and LPJmL, for assessing freshwater-related hazards and risks in worlds approximately 1.5 °C and 2 °C warmer than pre-industrial. Quasi-stationary HAPPI simulations are better suited than transient CMIP-like simulations for assessing hazards at the two targeted long-term global warming (GW) levels. We analyzed seven hydrological hazard indicators that characterize freshwater-related hazards for humans, freshwater biota and vegetation. Using a strict definition for significant differences, we identified for all but one indicator that areas with either significantly wetter or drier conditions (calculated as percent changes from 2006–2015) are smaller in the 1.5 °C world. For example, 7 day high flow is projected to increase significantly on 11% and 21% of the global land area at 1.5 °C and 2 °C, respectively. However, differences between hydrological hazards at the two GW levels are significant on less than 12% of the area. GW affects a larger area and more people by increases—rather than by decreases—of mean annual and 1-in-10 dry year streamflow, 7 day high flow, and groundwater recharge. The opposite is true for 7 day low flow, maximum snow storage, and soil moisture in the driest month of the growing period. Mean annual streamflow shows the lowest projected percent changes of all indicators. Among country groups, low income countries and lower middle income countries are most affected by decreased low flows and increased high flows, respectively, while high income countries are least affected by such changes. The incremental impact between 1.5 °C and 2 °C on high flows would be felt most by low income and lower middle income countries, the effect on soil moisture and low flows most by high income countries.
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    Assessing inter-sectoral climate change risks: The role of ISIMIP
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2017) Rosenzweig, Cynthia; Arnell, Nigel W.; Ebi, Kristie L.; Lotze-Campen, Hermann; Raes, Frank; Rapley, Chris; Smith, Mark Stafford; Cramer, Wolfgang; Frieler, Katja; Reyer, Christopher P.O.; Schewe, Jacob; van Vuuren, Detlef; Warszawski, Lila
    The aims of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP) are to provide a framework for the intercomparison of global and regional-scale risk models within and across multiple sectors and to enable coordinated multi-sectoral assessments of different risks and their aggregated effects. The overarching goal is to use the knowledge gained to support adaptation and mitigation decisions that require regional or global perspectives within the context of facilitating transformations to enable sustainable development, despite inevitable climate shifts and disruptions. ISIMIP uses community-agreed sets of scenarios with standardized climate variables and socio-economic projections as inputs for projecting future risks and associated uncertainties, within and across sectors. The results are consistent multi-model assessments of sectoral risks and opportunities that enable studies that integrate across sectors, providing support for implementation of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
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    Mitigation choices impact carbon budget size compatible with low temperature goals
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2015) Rogelj, Joeri; Reisinger, Andy; McCollum, David L.; Knutti, Reto; Riahi, Keywan; Meinshausen, Malte
    Global-mean temperature increase is roughly proportional to cumulative emissions of carbon-dioxide (CO2). Limiting global warming to any level thus implies a finite CO2 budget. Due to geophysical uncertainties, the size of such budgets can only be expressed in probabilistic terms and is further influenced by non-CO2 emissions. We here explore how societal choices related to energy demand and specific mitigation options influence the size of carbon budgets for meeting a given temperature objective. We find that choices that exclude specific CO2 mitigation technologies (like Carbon Capture and Storage) result in greater costs, smaller compatible CO2 budgets until 2050, but larger CO2 budgets until 2100. Vice versa, choices that lead to a larger CO2 mitigation potential result in CO2 budgets until 2100 that are smaller but can be met at lower costs. In most cases, these budget variations can be explained by the amount of non-CO2 mitigation that is carried out in conjunction with CO2, and associated global carbon prices that also drive mitigation of non-CO2 gases. Budget variations are of the order of 10% around their central value. In all cases, limiting warming to below 2 °C thus still implies that CO2 emissions need to be reduced rapidly in the coming decades.