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Climate Change Projections
The ability to project future climate change has also improved with access to more simulations from climate prediction models. The results show that what countries do now to reduce their GHG emissions will strongly influence the degree of climate change over the next couple of decades.
However, even if we acted today to significantly reduce our emissions, some degree of global warming would continue due to the effect of past emissions in the atmosphere. The IPCC forecasts that, if no further action is taken, the amount of warming over the next 20 years will be twice what it would have been had GHG concentrations been stabilized at their 2000 levels.
Other projections include:
- Global average temperatures could most likely rise by 1.8°C to 4.0°C by the end of the century, with 4.0°C most likely if fossil fuels continue to be burned at today’s rates (see figure above).
- Mid- to high-latitude regions will experience up to 20 per cent more precipitation, while tropical regions will experience less.
- Hurricanes and typhoons will likely intensify, while heat waves and heavy precipitation will become more frequent.
- Rising CO2 concentrations will lead to increasing acidification of the ocean, affecting marine ecosystems.
- Sea ice is projected to shrink, with some models predicting the disappearance of late-summer Arctic sea ice by the latter part of the century.
- Sea levels could rise by 18 to 59 cm, but much higher increases could occur, for example if sustained warming starts an irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet (7-metre sea level rise).