2016 has been quite a year for the climate. Warmest year ever recorded. Record low sea ice extents at both poles. It has also seen many amazing climate visualisations and animations. I have collected some of my favourites on this storify page, including graphics for temperature, sea ice, pressure observations and Hurricane Matthew.
One of the graphics is shown below, mapping temperature changes from 1850-2016, and including the decadal averages of global temperatures. This graphic has been updated from a previous version.
Some of the biggest questions about the future climate we have are: “how much could the climate change this century?”, “how reliable are climate projections?” and “what could happen on the way to 2100?” Also, most people want to know about regional change rather than change to the global mean climate. We have recently produced two papers relevant to these questions in terms of temperature change, now available (one on limits to temperature change this century and another on regional projections and variability).
This visualisation of temperatures in Lancashire (UK) shows annual mean data from 1754-2015. The long-term warming trend is clear, with variability from year to year, and some temporary cooler periods due to large volcanic eruptions. The average of the 19th century (black line) separates the warm and cold colours. Continue reading Lancashire temperatures, visualised→
The melt of the summer sea ice in the Arctic is dramatic. Each September, when the ice reaches its annual minimum, there used to be around 7.5 million sq km of ice. It is now regularly below 5 million sq km, and hit a record low of 3.6 million sq km in 2012. This downward trend is projected to continue as global temperatures increase, but somewhat erratically.
If you watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics, you would have noticed a segment discussing climate change, accompanied by graphics of CO2 emissions, Arctic sea ice melting, sea level rise and a somewhat familiar spiral representation of rising global temperatures (above), a version of which you may have seen somewhere before.
Climate sensitivity characterises the response of the climate to changes in radiative forcing and can be measured in many different ways. However, estimates derived from observations of historical global temperatures have tended to be lower than those suggested by state-of-the-art climate simulators. Are the models too sensitive?
A new study largely explains the difference – it is because the comparison has not been done ‘like-with-like’.