finding 2.2 : key-message-2-2

Earth’s climate will continue to change over this century and beyond (very high confidence). Past mid-century, how much the climate changes will depend primarily on global emissions of greenhouse gases and on the response of Earth’s climate system to human-induced warming (very high confidence). With significant reductions in emissions, global temperature increase could be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) or less compared to preindustrial temperatures (high confidence). Without significant reductions, annual average global temperatures could increase by 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century compared to preindustrial temperatures (high confidence).



This finding is from chapter 2 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

This chapter is based on the collective effort of 32 authors, 3 review editors, and 18 contributing authors comprising the writing team for the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR),75cf1c0b-cc62-4ca4-96a7-082afdfe2ab1 a featured U.S. Global Change Research Project (USGCRP) deliverable and Volume I of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). An open call for technical contributors took place in March 2016, and a federal science steering committee appointed the CSSR team. CSSR underwent three rounds of technical federal review, external peer review by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and a review that was open to public comment. Three in-person Lead Authors Meetings were conducted at various stages of the development cycle to evaluate comments received, assign drafting responsibilities, and ensure cross-chapter coordination and consistency in capturing the state of climate science in the United States. In October 2016, an 11-member core writing team was tasked with capturing the most important CSSR key findings and generating an Executive Summary. The final draft of this summary and the underlying chapters was compiled in June 2017.

The NCA4 Chapter 2 author team was pulled exclusively from CSSR experts tasked with leading chapters and/or serving on the Executive Summary core writing team, thus representing a comprehensive cross-section of climate science disciplines and supplying the breadth necessary to synthesize CSSR content. NCA4 Chapter 2 authors are leading experts in climate science trends and projections, detection and attribution, temperature and precipitation change, severe weather and extreme events, sea level rise and ocean processes, mitigation, and risk analysis. The chapter was developed through technical discussions first promulgated by the literature assessments, prior efforts of USGCRP,75cf1c0b-cc62-4ca4-96a7-082afdfe2ab1 e-mail exchanges, and phone consultations conducted to craft this chapter and subsequent deliberations via phone and e-mail exchanges to hone content for the current application. The team placed particular emphasis on the state of science, what was covered in USGCRP,75cf1c0b-cc62-4ca4-96a7-082afdfe2ab1 and what is new since the release of the Third NCA in 2014.dd5b893d-4462-4bb3-9205-67b532919566

Description of evidence base:

The Key Message and supporting text summarize extensive evidence documented in the climate science literature and are similar to statements made in previous national (NCA3)dd5b893d-4462-4bb3-9205-67b532919566 and internationalf03117be-ccfe-4f88-b70a-ffd4351b8190 assessments. The projections for future climate have been well documented through many papers in the peer reviewed scientific literature (e.g., see Hayhoe et al. 20179c909a77-a1d9-477d-82fc-468a6b1af771 for descriptions of the scenarios and the models used).

New information and remaining uncertainties:

Key remaining uncertainties relate to the precise magnitude and nature of changes at global, and particularly regional scales, and especially for extreme events and our ability to simulate and attribute such changes using climate models. Of particular importance are remaining uncertainties in the understanding of feedbacks in the climate system, especially in ice–albedo and cloud cover feedbacks. Continued improvements in climate modeling to represent the physical processes affecting the Earth’s climate system are aimed at reducing uncertainties. Enhanced monitoring and observation programs also can help improve the understanding needed to reduce uncertainties.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is very high confidence for continued changes in climate and high confidence for the levels shown in the Key Message.

References :

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