Palaeoclimate constraints on the impact of 2 °C anthropogenic warming and beyond - CEA - Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives Access content directly
Journal Articles Nature Geoscience Year : 2018

Palaeoclimate constraints on the impact of 2 °C anthropogenic warming and beyond

1 CEP - Climate and Environmental Physics [Bern]
2 OCCR - Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research
3 CCRC - Climate Change Research Centre [Sydney]
4 CEOAS - College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences [Corvallis]
5 ANU - Australian National University
6 Bullard Laboratories
7 MPI-M - Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
8 BAS - British Antarctic Survey
9 Centre for Ice and Climate [Copenhagen]
10 EPOC - Environnements et Paléoenvironnements OCéaniques
11 LDEO - Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
12 MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences [Bremen]
13 University of Toronto
14 UNIVERSITé DE DURHAM - Department of Geography
15 AWI - Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
16 CAM - University of Cambridge [UK]
17 UNIGE - Université de Genève = University of Geneva
18 Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes-CNR
19 GNS Science [Lower Hutt]
20 Queen's University [Kingston, Canada]
21 Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics [Lausanne]
22 GEOTOP - Centre de recherche sur la dynamique du système Terre
23 USC - University of Southern California
24 University of Nebraska–Lincoln
25 PAGES - Past Global Changes International Project Office
26 School of Geographical Sciences [Bristol]
27 Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Monitoring
28 School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
29 LSCE - Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement [Gif-sur-Yvette]
30 GLACCIOS - Glaces et Continents, Climats et Isotopes Stables
31 NCAR - National Center for Atmospheric Research [Boulder]
32 Uni Research Climate
33 PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres
34 National Coordination Office, Washington
35 Institute of Geosciences [Kiel]
36 Department of Geology, Quaternary Sciences
37 UFZ - Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung = Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
38 Institute of Geography [Bern]
39 NZC - Nansen-Zhu International Research Center
40 Lehigh University [Bethlehem]
41 Department of Earth Sciences [Utrecht]
42 Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Zurich
43 University of Peking
Victor Brovkin
Julien Emile-Geay
Daniel Lunt
Liping Zhou
  • Function : Author


Over the past 3.5 million years, there have been several intervals when climate conditions were warmer than during the pre-industrial Holocene. Although past intervals of warming were forced differently than future anthropogenic change, such periods can provide insights into potential future climate impacts and ecosystem feedbacks, especially over centennial-to-millennial timescales that are often not covered by climate model simulations. Our observation-based synthesis of the understanding of past intervals with temperatures within the range of projected future warming suggests that there is a low risk of runaway greenhouse gas feedbacks for global warming of no more than 2 °C. However, substantial regional environmental impacts can occur. A global average warming of 1–2 °C with strong polar amplification has, in the past, been accompanied by significant shifts in climate zones and the spatial distribution of land and ocean ecosystems. Sustained warming at this level has also led to substantial reductions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, with sea-level increases of at least several metres on millennial timescales. Comparison of palaeo observations with climate model results suggests that, due to the lack of certain feedback processes, model-based climate projections may underestimate long-term warming in response to future radiative forcing by as much as a factor of two, and thus may also underestimate centennial-to-millennial-scale sea-level rise.
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cea-01883055 , version 1 (15-10-2019)



Hubertus Fischer, Katrin J. Meissner, Alan C. Mix, Nerilie Abram, Jacqueline Austermann, et al.. Palaeoclimate constraints on the impact of 2 °C anthropogenic warming and beyond. Nature Geoscience, 2018, 11 (7), pp.474 - 485. ⟨10.1038/s41561-018-0146-0⟩. ⟨cea-01883055⟩
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