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New PCIC Science Brief: Two Questions About the Response of the Earth's Climate to Carbon Emissions

PCIC is pleased to announce the release of our next Science Brief. PCIC Science Briefs are a regular series of brief reports on recent climate science literature, relevant to stakeholders in the Pacific and Yukon Region of Canada. PCIC has developed these briefs because we recognize the need for a bridge between the cutting edge of climate science research and the various stakeholders who need access to this knowledge, in plain-language reports, filtered for regional relevance, and suitable for consideration in planning and adaptation. The PCIC Science Briefs contextualize and explain the results and implications of important scientific findings.

This Science Brief covers two recent articles that serve to answer two questions about the climate system's response to carbon emissions. The first paper, by Goodwin et al. (2014) in Nature Geoscience, investigates why transient surface warming on the timescale of decades to centuries is nearly-linear. They find that this is the result of the competing effects of the ocean absorbing both heat and carbon. They also find that increasing emissions lead to increased surface warming and that this warming will last many centuries. The second article, by Ricke and Caldeira (2014) in Environmental Research Letters, examines long it takes for maximum warming to occur due to a given carbon dioxide emission. They find that the median time between such an emission and the maximum warming due to that emission is 10.1 years.

Read this Science Brief

Goodwin, P., R.G. Williams and A. Ridgwell, 2014: Sensitivity of climate to cumulative carbon emissions due to compensation of ocean heat and carbon uptake. Nature Geoscience, 8, 29–34, doi:10.1038/ngeo2304.

Ricke, K.L. and K. Caldeira, 2014: Maximum warming occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission. Environmental Research Letters, 9, 12, 124002, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/12/124002.