Figure : cssr-4-5-uncertanties

Key Uncertainties in Temperature Projections

Figure A5.13

Texas Tech University
Katharine Hayhoe

This figure appears in chapter A5 of the Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II report.

The graph shows the change in the fraction of total variance (uncertainty) of three components of total uncertainty in decadal average surface air temperature projections for the contiguous United States. Green represents natural variability, orange represents future emissions uncertainty, and blue represents model or scientific uncertainty (including in climate sensitivity). As the time period becomes more distant, the impact of natural variability becomes less significant due to the smaller variability over a larger period. Future emissions uncertainty increases as time progresses, since we are unable to determine the exact choices that will be made by humans in the future. The influence of model uncertainty on the total uncertainty of how climate will change decreases as the century progresses, due to advances in science and the creation of more accurate and precise assessment systems. This figure shows total uncertainty for the lower 48 states—as the size of the region is reduced, the relative importance of natural variability increases. It is important to note that this figure shows the fractional sources of uncertainty. The total amount of uncertainty increases through time. Source: adapted from Hawkins and Sutton 2009.c247acf0-2a87-4337-b6d7-77686d049eed ©American Meteorological Society. Used with permission.

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This figure was created on June 16, 2017.

This figure was submitted on December 03, 2018.

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