Picture: Oljato-Monument Valley, United States. Credit: Donald Giannatti (Unsplash)

The world is warming rapidly but under protocols such as the Paris Agreement, we are aiming to limit global warming and stabilise the climate system. This paper examines the difference in temperature patterns between a rapidly warming climate and an equivalent stabilised climate.

Using a novel methodology applied to CMIP5 projections CLEX researchers found that the local temperatures experienced by 90% of people would be substantially higher in a transient (still warming) climate than an equilibrium climate were the temperatures have plateaued, for the same global temperature.

Extreme hot summers would be significantly more likely for populated land regions in areas as diverse as the Middle East, Eastern North America and East Asia in a rapidly warming climate than in an equivalent equilibrium climate.

As scientists prepare climate projections for different warmer worlds, this study demonstrates that it is vital that the use of transient or stabilised climate simulations is explicit, so decision-makers can best prepare for future warming.

  • Paper: King, A.D., Lane, T.P., Henley, B.J. et al. Global and regional impacts differ between transient and equilibrium warmer worlds. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 42–47 (2020) doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0658-7