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  • Cited by 132
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

Chapter 12 - Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility Pages 1029 to 1076


Executive Summary

This chapter assesses long-term projections of climate change for the end of the 21st century and beyond, where the forced signal depends on the scenario and is typically larger than the internal variability of the climate system. Changes are expressed with respect to a baseline period of 1986–2005, unless otherwise stated.

Scenarios, Ensembles and Uncertainties

The Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) presents an unprecedented level of information on which to base projections including new Earth System Models with a more complete representation of forcings, new Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) scenarios and more output available for analysis. The four RCP scenarios used in CMIP5 lead to a total radiative forcing (RF) at 2100 that spans a wider range than that estimated for the three Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) scenarios (B1, A1B, A2) used in the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), RCP2.6 being almost 2 W m−2 lower than SRES B1 by 2100. The magnitude of future aerosol forcing decreases more rapidly in RCP scenarios, reaching lower values than in SRES scenarios through the 21st century. Carbon dioxide (CO2) represents about 80 to 90% of the total anthropogenic forcing in all RCP scenarios through the 21st century. The ensemble mean total effective RFs at 2100 for CMIP5 concentration-driven projections are 2.2, 3.8, 4.8 and 7.6 W m−2 for RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and RCP8.5 respectively, relative to about 1850, and are close to corresponding Integrated Assessment Model (IAM)-based estimates (2.4, 4.0, 5.2 and 8.0 W m2).

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