Report

The Climate Change Commitment

Science  18 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5716, pp. 1766-1769
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103934

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Abstract

Even if atmospheric composition were fixed today, global-mean temperature and sea level rise would continue due to oceanic thermal inertia. These constant-composition (CC) commitments and their uncertainties are quantified. Constant-emissions (CE) commitments are also considered. The CC warming commitment could exceed 1°C. The CE warming commitment is 2° to 6°C by the year 2400. For sea level rise, the CC commitment is 10 centimeters per century (extreme range approximately 1 to 30 centimeters per century) and the CE commitment is 25 centimeters per century (7 to 50 centimeters per century). Avoiding these changes requires, eventually, a reduction in emissions to substantially below present levels. For sea level rise, a substantial long-term commitment may be impossible to avoid.

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