Bad News: Climate Change Faster Than Expected


A brevia in this weeks edition of the journal Science (subscription) points out the climate is changing faster than we expected. The IPCC scenario's for climate change begin in the year 1990, and predict the expected changes into the future based on our best understanding of Earth's climate system. The brevia compared our observations over the past 16 years with the predictions from the IPCC. Some of this weeks findings include:

1. CO2 levels match expected levels- but we got the details wrong of why this is the case, miscalculating our sink and sources. Better lucky than good?

2. Global Mean Surface Temperature Increase is at the high end of expected levels. The warming trend is happening quicker than most expectations, for unknown reasons.

3. Sea Level Rise is faster than expected. 2mm/year was expected but we have been getting our feet wet at 3.3mm/year (+/- 0.4).

Put together, the past 16 years have exceeded our expectations for change. This doesn't mean rapid change will continue to happen, but we could call these results a 'trend'. The IPCC has been criticized for exaggerating climate change scenario's- but in light of the past 16 years- it looks like the IPCC might have been too conservative. ::Science