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Future Climate Surprises Ann Henderson-Sellers

Future Climate Surprises

Ann Henderson-Sellers

Published December 19th 2011
ISBN : 9780124096370
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 About the Book 

The nature of surprise is that it is unexpected, and abrupt. So, climate surprises is taken to refer the events where there is a stochastic (i.e., random) component driving them, as well as a deterministic one, and where the resulting changes areMoreThe nature of surprise is that it is unexpected, and abrupt. So, climate surprises is taken to refer the events where there is a stochastic (i.e., random) component driving them, as well as a deterministic one, and where the resulting changes are unexpectedly large, relative to the factors driving them. Surprises can be pleasant or unpleasant, but in the case of anthropogenic climate change, it is assumed that changes are for the worst. Abrupt and unpredicted changes are seen as particularly undesirable, because they are most difficult to adapt to. The trigger of any tipping-point change is likely to be a combination of natural variability on top of an underlying forcing due to human activities. Hence, one can only talk in terms of probabilities of passing particular tipping points. However, recent expert elicitation has obtained some useful information on these probabilities for different future warming scenarios. The probabilities are imprecise but, even with the most conservative assumptions, they indicate that in a 4 C warmer world it is more likely than not that at least one of five large-scale thresholds will be passed. The key message from recent studies is that large climate surprises now appear significantly closer, in terms of global temperature change, than they did in earlier assessments.