Current Global Climate Projections

Current Global Climate Projections

Liz Bentley

25 years: Meteorologist

So what does the future seem to hold for the climate? Join Liz Bentley as she delves into climate projections and global tipping points.

So what does the future seem to hold for the climate? Join Liz Bentley as she delves into climate projections and global tipping points.

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Current Global Climate Projections

13 mins 20 secs

Overview

Climate projections show that global temperatures are expected to continue to rise, with the magnitude depending on future greenhouse gas emissions and the SSP scenarios. The IPCC projects that global average temperatures could increase by 1.5°C to 4.4°C by the end of the century. Changes in precipitation patterns are expected to occur, along with raised sea levels. We need to be aware of climate tipping points, which could lead to rapid and irreversible changes in the global climate. These include the melting of the ice sheets, the collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and release of methane from melting permafrost.

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand projected changes in climate

  • Describe the value of climate attribution

  • Outline the climate tipping points

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Summary
How is the global climate expected to change? 
Climate projections suggest that global temperatures are expected to continue to rise, with the magnitude depending on future greenhouse gas emissions and the SSP scenarios. The IPCC projects that global average temperatures could increase by 1.5°C to 4.4°C by the end of the century, compared to pre-industrial levels. Temperature maps are clear that that the land is warming more than the oceans and the Arctic and Antarctic regions are warming more than the tropics. Changes in precipitation patterns are expected to occur, with some regions experiencing more frequent and intense droughts, while other places experience more frequent and intense rainfall. Sea levels are expected to continue to rise with IPCC projections that sea levels could rise by 0.28m to 1.88m by the end of the century. 

How is the UK climate expected to change? 
UKCP projects that average temperatures in the UK will increase throughout the 21st century, with the magnitude of warming depending on future greenhouse gas emissions. In the high emission scenario, the temperature increases by between 1.3°C to 5.1°C in summer, and 0.6°C to 3.8°C in winter by 2070. Winter rainfall is likely to increase, while summer rainfall is likely to decrease, particularly in southern and eastern England.

What is the value of climate attribution? 
Climate attribution refers to the process of determining the extent to which human activities (such as the emission of greenhouse gases) have contributed to observed changes in the climate and specific extreme weather events. By understanding the extent to which human activities have contributed to observed changes in the climate, we can better evaluate the costs and benefits of various mitigation and adaptation options, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions or investing in climate resilience measures. 

What are the climate tipping points?
Climate tipping points are critical thresholds in the Earth's climate system that, once crossed, could lead to rapid and irreversible changes in the global climate. The tipping points arise from complex feedback loops and interactions between different components of the Earth's climate system. Some examples of potential climate tipping points include:

1. The melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
2. The collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) 
3. Release of methane from thawing permafrost

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Liz Bentley

Liz Bentley

Professor Liz Bentley is the Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, a not-for-profit organisation based in the UK. Her career in meteorology spans over 30 years and she has worked at the Met Office, BBC, and in Government. She is a regular contributor to the major broadcasters, delivering over 200 media interviews each year.

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