U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Near-Term Acceleration in the Rate of Temperature Change
Published: March 09, 2015
Posted: March 17, 2015

Human-driven climate changes, which are expected to impact human and natural systems, are often expressed in terms of global-mean temperature. Much attention also is given to the interannual variability and rates of change of global average temperatures. Given that faster rates of change result in less time for human and natural systems to adapt, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Joint Global Change Research Institute performed an analysis using global model simulations that indicate the world is entering a period where multidecadal rates of change are becoming larger than those seen over the last millennium. They found that current trends in greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions are now moving the Earth system into a new regime, in terms of multidecadal rates of change that are unprecedented for at least the last 1,000 years. In the Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) archive over 40-year periods, the rate of global-mean temperature increases to 0.25±0.05 (1s) °C per decade by 2020, that, in turn, represents an unprecedented rate of change that has not been experienced at least for the past 1 to 2 millennia. Increases in greenhouse gas forcing, coupled with the decreasing influence of atmospheric aerosol particles, are now driving the climate system into this new state. Regional rates of change in Europe, North America, and the Arctic are higher than the global average. These findings show the need for research on the impacts of such near-term rates of change. Support for this analysis was provided through the Integrated Assessment Research Program, a program of the Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and the Global Technology Strategy Project, a public-private collaboration.

Reference: Smith, S. J., J. A. Edmonds, C. A. Hartin, A. Mundra, and K. V. Calvin. 2015. "Near-Term Acceleration in the Rate of Temperature Change," Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2552. (Reference link)

Contact: Bob Vallario, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5758
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)