Project

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Quantification of climate uncertainty for deep mitigation scenarios

English title Quantification of climate uncertainty for deep mitigation scenarios
Applicant Knutti Reto
Number 135067
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Atmosphäre und Klima ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Start/End 01.04.2011 - 31.12.2013
Approved amount 157'482.00
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Keywords (5)

mitigation scenario; climate change; scenario; climate models; uncertainty

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

International climate policy anticipates sharply declining emissions and the possibility to even extract greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in the coming decades to avoid dangerous climate change. This project explores the uncertainties in climate projections for such a possible future.

As anthropogenic climate change and its ecological, societal and economic impacts are becoming increasingly significant, nations are aiming at curbing global emissions onto a downward trajectory to avoid dangerous climate change. The climate negotiations reality points towards a peak in global emissions in the next couple of decades with a steep decline afterwards. This comes with the assumption that technologies to actively extract greenhouse gases from the atmosphere will be available. Climate models are valuable to inform policy. However, the focus of these models has been on high emission scenarios and little attention has been given scenarios with sharply declining emissions. Yet, because of the highly non-linear behaviour of the climate system, the behaviour of the climate system can differ significantly between scenarios that assume either high or very low emissions in the future.

This project aims at exploring and probabilistically quantifying the future climate system response to very low emission scenarios. In order to gain an understanding which is as robust as possible, a suite of climate models with varying complexity and strengths is used. Particularly the climatic response in terms of global greenhouse gas concentrations and temperature increase will be assessed, as they are key climatic indicator in the international negotiations.

The quantification of climate projections for extremely low emission scenarios will help to elucidate the feasibility of such scenarios from a physical science perspective. This project hence aims at informing international climate policy about possible physical limitations and constraints imposed by the climate system on future climate change, even with very sharp emission reductions.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Probabilistic cost estimates for climate change mitigation.
Rogelj Joeri, McCollum D.L., Reisinger A., Meinshausen Malte, Riahi K. (2013), Probabilistic cost estimates for climate change mitigation., in Nature, 1-3.
The Emissions Gap Report 2013 - A UNEP Synthesis Report. 64
Rogelj Joeri, Schaeffer R., van Vuuren D. (2013), The Emissions Gap Report 2013 - A UNEP Synthesis Report. 64, UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya.
The UN’s new ‘Sustainable Energy For All’ initiative is compatible with 2°C. (Perspective)
Rogelj Joeri, McCollum D.L., Riahi K. (2013), The UN’s new ‘Sustainable Energy For All’ initiative is compatible with 2°C. (Perspective), in Nature Climate Change, 1-3.
2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2 °C
Rogelj Joeri, McCollum D.L., O'Neill B.C., Riahi K. (2012), 2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2 °C, in Nature Climate Change, 1-3.
Chapter 3: The Emissions Gap - An Update
Rogelj J., Shukla P.R., Dellink R., den Elzen M., Hanaoka T., Lowe J., Luderer G., Riahi K., van Vuuren D. (2012), Chapter 3: The Emissions Gap - An Update, UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya.
Discrepancies in historical emissions point to a wider 2020 gap between 2°C benchmarks and aggregated national mitigation pledges
Rogelj Joeri, Hare William, Chen Claudine, Meinshausen Malte (2012), Discrepancies in historical emissions point to a wider 2020 gap between 2°C benchmarks and aggregated national mitigation pledges, in Environmental Research Letters, 6, 1-9.
Global warming under old and new scenarios using IPCC climate sensitivity range estimates
Rogelj J., Knutti R., Meinshausen M. (2012), Global warming under old and new scenarios using IPCC climate sensitivity range estimates, in Nature Climate Change, 2, 248-253.
Bridging the Emissions Gap - A UNEP Synthesis Report. 56
Höhne N., Rogelj J., Xiusheng Z. (2011), Bridging the Emissions Gap - A UNEP Synthesis Report. 56.
Chapter 2: The Emissions Gap - an update
Rogelj J., Höhne N., Jiang K., Xiusheng Z. (2011), Chapter 2: The Emissions Gap - an update, UNEP , Nairobi, Kenia.
Decision support for international climate policy – The PRIMAP emission module
Rogelj Joeri, Chen Claudine, Nabel Julia (2011), Decision support for international climate policy – The PRIMAP emission module, in Environmental Modelling & Software, 26, 1419-1433.
Emission pathways consistent with a 2°C
Rogelj J., Hare W., Van Vuuren Detlef (2011), Emission pathways consistent with a 2°C, in Nature Climate Change, 1, 413-418.
National GHG emissions reduction pledges and 2°C: comparison of studies
Rogelj Joeri, Höhne Niklas, Wagner Fabian, Xiusheng Zhao (2011), National GHG emissions reduction pledges and 2°C: comparison of studies, in Climate Policy, 1-22.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
IIASA Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
AGU Fall meeting 2013 Talk given at a conference Incorporating climate-system and carbon-cycle uncertainties in integrated assessments of climate change 09.12.2013 San Francisco, United States of America Rogelj Joeri;
Energy Modelling Forum 30 (EMF-30) Talk given at a conference Short-lived climate forcers: Quo vadis? 30.10.2013 Tsukuba, Japan Rogelj Joeri;
Integrated Assessment Modelling Consortium (IAMC) Talk given at a conference 2020 emission windows required to limit warming to below 2°C 28.10.2013 Tsukuba, Japan Rogelj Joeri;
Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) Summer Workshop Talk given at a conference Integrating uncertainties for climate change 19.08.2013 Boulder, United States of America Rogelj Joeri;
European Geosciences Union / General Assembly 2013 Talk given at a conference Integrating uncertainties for climate change mitigation 08.05.2013 Wien, Austria Rogelj Joeri;
Climate and Environmental Physics seminar Individual talk From emission scenarios to climate targets: there and back again 29.04.2013 Bern, Switzerland Rogelj Joeri;
Global Carbon Project / International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Talk given at a conference Negative Emissions and the Carbon Cycle 15.04.2013 Laxenburg, Austria Rogelj Joeri;
Yearly meeting of the Integrated Assessment Modelling Consortium Talk given at a conference Probabilistic Cost Estimates for Climate Change Mitigation 12.11.2012 IAMC, Utrecht, Netherlands Rogelj Joeri;
IIASA 40th Anniversary Conference “Worlds within Reach from Science to Policy” Poster 2020 emissions required to limit warming below 2°C 23.10.2012 Wien, Austria Rogelj Joeri;
Theme of the Year workshop of the National Center of Atmospheric Research Talk given at a conference Probabilistic Cost Estimates for Climate Change Mitigation 06.08.2012 Boulder, United States of America Rogelj Joeri;
IIASA - Young Scientist Summer Programm Talk given at a conference 2020 emission windows required to limit warming to below 2°C 01.06.2011 Laxenburg, Austria Rogelj Joeri;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP Talk 26.11.2012 Doha, Qatar Rogelj Joeri;
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Workshop 30.08.2012 Bangkok, Thailand Rogelj Joeri;
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Talk 14.05.2012 Bonn, Germany Rogelj Joeri;
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Talk 07.11.2011 Cancun, Mexico Rogelj Joeri;
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Workshop 29.08.2011 Panama City, Panama Rogelj Joeri;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Energieziele, nachhaltige Entwicklung und Klimaschutz gehen Hand in Hand ETH Klimablog German-speaking Switzerland 2013
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Was Familienplanung dem Klima bringt ETH-Klimablog German-speaking Switzerland 2013
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Ist das 2-Grad-Klimaziel am Ende? ETH Klimablog German-speaking Switzerland 2012
Media relations: radio, television Wie die Wissenschaft beim Klima aussen vor bleibt Radio SRF German-speaking Switzerland 2012
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) 2-Grad-Klimaziel wäre erreichbar ETH-Klimablog German-speaking Switzerland 2011
Media relations: print media, online media Das Klima verdüstert sich NZZ am Sonntag German-speaking Switzerland 2011

Awards

Title Year
Peccei Award IIASA 2012

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
119952 Quantifying climate change uncertainty from the CMIP3 ensemble of global coupled climate models 01.04.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

As anthropogenic climate change is unequivocal and its ecological, societal and economic impacts are becoming increasingly significant, nations are aiming at curbing global emissions onto a downward trajectory. The main arena of these efforts is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of which the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009 was the last high-profile exponent. During these negotiations delegations rely heavily on predictions of climate models. However, climate projection exercises have been focussing their efforts on high emission pathways and little attention has been given to deep mitigation scenarios resulting in an underinvestigation of this field.This research project will strive to unlock this area for the wider climate science community by providing a methodology to generate and investigate deep mitigation emission pathways and the associated uncertainties in climatic consequences with a hierarchy of climate models. Furthermore, in the framework of this research project, an initial set of analyses - highly relevant to international climate negotiations and policy - will also be carried out with a selection of prominent and well-documented climate models. For many research questions on the interface between climate science and climate policy, flexible and realistic emission scenarios are required for not only the main greenhouse gas (CO2) but also for other greenhouse gases (like CH4 and N2O), aerosol precursors and other radiative constituents. Starting from what is likely to be the most appropriate methodology for the generation of flexible so-called multi-gas scenarios and incorporating the latest results of current globally coordinated emission scenario exercises, this research project will integrate state-of-the-art mitigation scenario knowledge and generate an output which will enable the global climate science community to investigate deep mitigation policy strategies in an unprecedented flexible and consistent way. An important impact on both climate science and international climate policy research is anticipated.
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