More about RCPs
Read this SkepticalScience report on RCPs. Here are a few more resources:
- Towards New Scenarios for Analysis of Emissions, Climate Change, Impacts, and Response Strategies, IPCC Expert Meeting Report, 19–21 September, 2007
- The representative concentration pathways: an overview, van Vuuren et. al 2011, Climatic Change (2011) 109:5–31, doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0148-z
- The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment, Moss et.al. 2010, Nature, doi:10.1038/nature08823
- Global warming under old and new scenarios using IPCC climate sensitivity range estimates, Rogelj, Meinshausen and Knutti 2012, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE1385
- IPCC Data Distribution Centre on-line documentation of the scenario process, including documentation of narrative development and usage
As discussed in this chapter, climate models are the main tool for making predictions of future climate change. Here is a nice article that explains how they work. The article comes with an energy balance model to play around with.
For those with more programming experience, here is a simple energy balance model in python.
If you want more detail, check out the book Demystifying Climate Models by Gettelman and Rood. The book is available for free on-line.
But can climate models be trusted? As usual, the answer is not a black/white yes or no, but more nuanced. As argued in this article by Hargreaves and Annan, the prediction that global and annual mean temperature will rise by around 2–4°C over the 21st century is credible. Short-term and regional predictions are much less reliable.
Watch this great video by software engineer Steve Easterbrook about the efforts that modeling centers go through to produce the models. Highly recommended!
data on emissions and its drivers
The CIA factbook is a great place to find how individual countries compare in population, affluence, and emissions. What's amazing (to me, anyway) is how big the affluence gap is between the richest and poorest countries. If you're reading this, then you're probably in a pretty rich country; never forget how lucky you are that that's the case.
Or check out Boden et al. 2012. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi:10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2012.
climate over deep time
To me, one of the most disturbing facets of the climate problem relates to the long lifetime of CO2 (discussed in chapter 5): over the next few decades, we'll emit enough CO2 to seriously alter the climate for the next 10,000+ years. Here's a recent paper that lays out the argument.