Climate Scientists are Understating the Effects of Global Warming


A recent study, published in Global Environmental Change, is telling us that climate scientists have been understating the effects of global temperature increases. They do this in order to be sure to make reasonable sounding statements. They call it ESLD, or ‘Erring on the side of least drama’, and it’s a far cry from the ‘alarmism’ they are sometimes accused of.

Cheltenham Floodingcheltenhamborough / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Interestingly, this comprehensive study finds that predictions of global temperature rises over the past 25 years have proved exceptionally accurate. It is the effects on the likes of sea-levels, rainfall, ocean temperatures and melting of glaciers which have been underestimated. Therefore, we can expect the effects on our weather systems to be worse than predicted.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Rainfall has become more intense in already rainy areas, and “recent changes have occurred faster than predicted”.
  • Sea level rise has far exceeded predictions: “satellites show recent global average sea level rise (3.4 mm/yr over the past 15 years)—to be 80% above past IPCC predictions”.
  • Surface ocean heat uptake between 1963 and 2003 was 50% higher than expected based on previous calculations. Studies also show that deep ocean warming is more widespread than previously thought.
  • Summertime melting of Arctic sea-ice has “accelerated far beyond the expectations of climate models”.
  • CO2 emissions were also at the high-end of scenarios developed in 1999, showing that scientists’ “worst-case scenario” has, in fact, been realized.

“The studies we have examined here find no evidence that the IPCC  (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has made exaggerated claims in its climate change predictions; indeed, in many cases IPCC predictions seem to have underestimated actual outcomes.”

You can read an abstract or access this full and comprehensive study here.

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