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      The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment

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          Abstract

          Advances in the science and observation of climate change are providing a clearer understanding of the inherent variability of Earth's climate system and its likely response to human and natural influences. The implications of climate change for the environment and society will depend not only on the response of the Earth system to changes in radiative forcings, but also on how humankind responds through changes in technology, economies, lifestyle and policy. Extensive uncertainties exist in future forcings of and responses to climate change, necessitating the use of scenarios of the future to explore the potential consequences of different response options. To date, such scenarios have not adequately examined crucial possibilities, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, and have relied on research processes that slowed the exchange of information among physical, biological and social scientists. Here we describe a new process for creating plausible scenarios to investigate some of the most challenging and important questions about climate change confronting the global community.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Climate–Carbon Cycle Feedback Analysis: Results from the C4MIP Model Intercomparison

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            Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model.

            The continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide due to anthropogenic emissions is predicted to lead to significant changes in climate. About half of the current emissions are being absorbed by the ocean and by land ecosystems, but this absorption is sensitive to climate as well as to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, creating a feedback loop. General circulation models have generally excluded the feedback between climate and the biosphere, using static vegetation distributions and CO2 concentrations from simple carbon-cycle models that do not include climate change. Here we present results from a fully coupled, three-dimensional carbon-climate model, indicating that carbon-cycle feedbacks could significantly accelerate climate change over the twenty-first century. We find that under a 'business as usual' scenario, the terrestrial biosphere acts as an overall carbon sink until about 2050, but turns into a source thereafter. By 2100, the ocean uptake rate of 5 Gt C yr(-1) is balanced by the terrestrial carbon source, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations are 250 p.p.m.v. higher in our fully coupled simulation than in uncoupled carbon models, resulting in a global-mean warming of 5.5 K, as compared to 4 K without the carbon-cycle feedback.
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              Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                February 2010
                February 2010
                : 463
                : 7282
                : 747-756
                10.1038/nature08823
                20148028
                © 2010

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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