Targets for limiting the global temperature to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels shouldn’t be considered ‘safe’ according to new research from climate change experts at the University of Exeter.
Professor Chris Turney and Dr Richard Jones, both from the University’s Department of Geography, have reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Quaternary Science a comprehensive study of the Last Interglacial, a period of warming some 125,000 years ago.
“The results here are quite startling and, importantly, they suggest sea levels will rise significantly higher than anticipated and that stabilizing global average temperatures at 2˚C above pre-industrial levels may not be considered a ‘safe’ target as envisaged by the European Union and others,” said Professor Turney. “The inevitable conclusion is emission targets will have to be lowered further still.”
Their analysis looked at conditions when sediments and ice were laid down during the Last Interglacial, giving them a look at the global conditions as the ice spread.
Their results showed that temperatures appear to have been more than 5˚C warmer in polar regions while the tropics only warmed marginally, closely resembling conditions today. Additionally the world then appears to have been only 1.9˚C warmer when compared to preindustrial temperatures.
The temperatures subsequently resulted in global sea levels growing to 6.6 to 9.4 metres higher than today, with a rate of rise of somewhere between 60 to 90 centimetres per decade.
What’s the linkage?
The higher temperatures seen during the Last Interglacial are comparable to projections for the end of this century under the low emission scenarios contained within the recent Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Source: University of Exeter