Mason Researchers Say Global Warming Estimates Even Higher Than Panel Reports

Posted: February 5, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Jagadish Shukla
Jagadish Shukla

Mason climate scientist Jagadish Shukla says that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) prediction of increased global warming is not extreme enough.

The IPCC, the world’s most authoritative group on climate change with 2,500 scientists from 130 countries, last week issued its strongest warning yet that human activities are causing a global warming that will result in a bigger change in global temperature over the next century than in the past 400,000 years.

Shukla, an author of more than 150 scientific publications on climate and climate predictability, stresses that the warming will be even more radical than the IPCC predicts.

In a paper published by Geophysical Research Letters, Shukla, a member of the IPCC, and his coauthors show that the more reliable models currently working to predict the Earth’s climate tend to predict higher estimates of global warming for the next century.

The paper, “Climate Model Fidelity and Projections of Climate Change,” presents a detailed mathematical analysis of the model simulations prepared for the IPCC. It predicts the estimates of global warming to be 4 to 5 degrees Centigrade as opposed to the IPCC’s estimate range of 2 to 4 degrees Centigrade.

“The magnitude of global warming is a serious issue that faces both the scientific community and the international policy community,” says Shukla, professor and chair of the Department of Climate Dynamics in the College of Science. “Without immediate global action, the consequences for the future of humankind and the planetary ecosystem will be dire.”

Shukla and a team of researchers from George Mason University and the Center for Ocean-Land Atmosphere Studies (COLA) in Calverton, Md. – Timothy DelSole, Michael Fennessy, Jim Kinter and Daniel Paolino – studied the results of 14 current climate models from 10 different premier laboratories in five different countries.

They looked at how well the models simulated the climate of the past century to determine their accuracy or “fidelity.” They found that if a model had a higher fidelity it tended to have a higher sensitivity and predict a higher degree of change in Earth’s climate for the next century.

This is the first time that scientists have ranked the IPCC climate models in terms of their ability to simulate the current climate. Mason and COLA scientists have not conducted their own IPCC projections and are considered to be objective in their views on global warming.

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