Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bits and pieces from the IPCC WG1 - methane, AMO and anthropogenic forcing

Sou | 4:13 AM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment
While I'm working my way through the IPCC reports, here are some more snippets of interest from the AR5 Technical Summary.

On methane emissions (page TS-23)

Models and ecosystem warming experiments show high agreement that wetland CH4 emissions will increase per unit area in a warmer climate, but wetland areal extent may increase or decrease depending on regional changes in temperature and precipitation affecting wetland hydrology, so that there is low confidence in quantitative projections of wetland CH4 emissions. Reservoirs of carbon in hydrates and permafrost are very large, and thus could potentially act as very powerful feedbacks. Although poorly constrained, the 21st century global release of CH4 from hydrates to the atmosphere is likely to be low due to the under-saturated state of the ocean, long-ventilation time of the ocean, and slow propagation of warming through the seafloor. Release of carbon from thawing permafrost is very likely to provide a positive feedback, but there is limited confidence in quantitative projections of its strength. {6.4}

Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation made little contribution to GMST* (page TS-25)

A number of studies have investigated the effects of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) on global mean surface temperature. While some studies find a significant role for the AMO in driving multi-decadal variability in GMST, the AMO exhibited little trend over the period 1951-2010 on which these assessments are based, and the AMO is assessed with high confidence to have made little contribution to the GMST trend between 1951 and 2010 (considerably less than 0.1°C). {2.4, 9.8.1, 10.3; FAQ 9.1}.
*GMST = global mean surface temperature.

Human activities had by far the greatest impact on global surface temperature (page TS-26)

Greenhouse gases contributed a global mean surface warming likely to be between 0.5°C and 1.3°C over the period between 1951 and 2010, with the contributions from other anthropogenic forcings likely to be between –0.6°C and 0.1°C and from natural forcings likely to be between –0.1°C and 0.1°C. Together these assessed contributions are consistent with the observed warming of approximately 0.6°C over this period (Figure TS.10). {10.3}...
...Observed warming over the past sixty years is far outside the range of internal climate variability estimated from pre-instrumental data, and it is also far outside the range of internal variability simulated in climate models. Model-based simulations of internal variability are assessed to be adequate to make this assessment. Further, the spatial pattern of observed warming differs from those associated with internal variability. Based on this evidence, the contribution of internal variability to the 1951–2010 global mean surface temperature trend was assessed to be likely between –0.1°C and 0.1°C, and it is virtually certain that warming since 1951 cannot be explained by internal variability alone. {9.5, 10.3, 10.7}
The instrumental record shows a pronounced warming during the first half of the 20th century. Consistent with AR4, it is assessed that the early 20th century warming is very unlikely to be due to internal variability alone. It remains difficult to quantify the contributions to this early century warming from internal variability, natural forcing and anthropogenic forcing, due to forcing and response uncertainties and incomplete observational coverage. {10.3}


  1. I've downloaded the individual pdfs as well today, but am still working my way through the Summary for Policy Makers (need more hours in the day). Feels a bit like when a new book comes in the mail, which I'm sure is an indication of how sad my life is. :-) (not really, heh.....beats sitting on a couch and watching people chase/hit a ball around a field in-between lengthy breaks that want to persuade you to buy crap you don't need).

  2. There's little confidence about methane emissions from wetlands, but satellite observations show China and India to be high atmospheric methane concentration hot spots. I suspect this may be a combination of emissions from rice paddies and possibly from anaerobic ponds used to prepare fertilizers (?). A minor source in these areas could also be methane emissions from coal, and in China there's a possibility they could be adding methane emissions from oil wells (?).


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