BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

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

BER Research Highlights


Estimated Climate Sensitivity Constrained by Temperature Reconstructions Over the Past Seven Centuries


Published: May 01, 2006
Posted: May 23, 2006

The magnitude and impact of future global climate change depends on the sensitivity of the climate system to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. The commonly accepted range for the equilibrium global mean temperature change in response to a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, termed climate sensitivity, is 1.5° - 4.5°C. A number of observational studies, however, find a substantial probability of significantly higher sensitivities, yielding upper limits on climate sensitivity of 7.7 °C to above 9°C. In the April 20 issue of Nature, DOE-sponsored researchers Hegerl et al. demonstrate that observational estimates of climate sensitivity can be tightened if reconstructions of Northern Hemisphere temperature over the past several centuries are considered. Using large-ensemble energy balance modeling to simulate the temperature response to past solar, volcanic and greenhouse gas forcing, they determine which climate sensitivities yield simulations that are in agreement with proxy reconstructions. After accounting for the uncertainty in reconstructions and estimates of past external forcing, they find an independent estimate of climate sensitivity that is very similar to those from instrumental data. If the latter are combined with the result from all proxy reconstructions, then the 5%-95 % range of climate sensitivity shrinks to 1.5 ° 6.2 °C, thus substantially reducing the probability of very high climate sensitivity.

Reference: Gabriele C. Hegerl, Thomas J. Crowley, William T. Hyde & David J. Frame: Climate sensitivity constrained by temperature reconstructions over the past seven centuries. Nature, 2006|doi:10.1038/nature04679

Contact: Anjuli S. Bamzai, SC-23.3, (301) 903-0294
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-23.3 Climate Change Research Division, OBER)

 

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

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)