CLIMATE STABILIZATION TARGETS

Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia

Committee on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentrations

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

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CLIMATE STABILIZATION TARGETS Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia Committee on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Govern- ing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the The Energy Foundation under contract number G-0812-10616 and The Environmental Protection Agency under contract number EP10H001368. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations ex- pressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-15176-4 (Book) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-15176-7 (Book) International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-15177-1 (PDF) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-15177-5 (PDF) Library of Congress Control Number: 2010 936129 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. National Research Council. 2011. Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Con- centrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Copyright 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Acad- emy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding en- gineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Insti- tute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sci- ences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON STABILIZATION TARGETS FOR ATMOSPHERIC GREENHOUSE GAS CONCENTRATIONS SUSAN SOLOMON (Chair), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO DAVID BATTISTI, University of Washington, Seattle, WA SCOTT DONEY, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA KATHARINE HAYHOE, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX ISAAC M. HELD, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, University of Washington, Seattle, WA DAVID LOBELL, Stanford University, Stanford, CA H. DAMON MATTHEWS, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec RAYMOND PIERREHUMBERT, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL MARILYN RAPHAEL, University of California, Los Angeles, CA RICHARD RICHELS, Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., Washington, DC TERRY L. ROOT, Stanford University, Stanford, CA KONRAD STEFFEN, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO CLAUDIA TEBALDI, Climate Central, Vancouver, British Columbia GARY W. YOHE, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT NRC Staff TOBY WARDEN, Study Director LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate EDWARD DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer DAVID REIDMILLER, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Fellow SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant RICARDO PAYNE, Senior Program Assistant DANIEL BEARRS, Senior Librarian v

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BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR. (Chair), University of Maryland, College Park ROSINA M. BIERBAUM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor RICHARD CARBONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO WALTER F. DABBERDT, Vaisala, Inc., Boulder, CO KIRSTIN DOW, University of South Carolina, Columbia GREG S. FORBES, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, GA ISAAC HELD, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, NJ ARTHUR LEE, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, CA RAYMOND T. PIERREHUMBERT, University of Chicago, Illinois KIMBERLY PRATHER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA KIRK R. SMITH, University of California, Berkeley JOHN T. SNOW, University of Oklahoma, Norman THOMAS H. VONDER HAAR, Colorado State University/CIRA, Fort Collins XUBIN ZENG, University of Arizona, Tucson Ex Officio Members GERALD A. MEEHL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director EDWARD DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer IAN KRAUCUNAS, Senior Program Officer MARTHA MCCONNELL, Program Officer TOBY WARDEN, Program Officer MAGGIE WALSER, Associate Program Officer JOSEPH CASOLA, Postdoctoral Fellow RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator KATIE WELLER, Research Associate LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant vi

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AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant JANEISE STURDIVANT, Program Assistant RICARDO PAYNE, Senior Program Assistant SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate DAVID REIDMILLER, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Fellow vii

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Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with pro- cedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in their review of this report: Marcia Baker, University of Washington Virginia Burkett, U.S. Geological Survey William Easterling, Pennsylvania State University Jay Gulledge, Pew Center on Global Climate Change Prasad Kasibhatla, Duke University Haroon Khesghi, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company Jeffrey T. Kiehl, National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Corinne LeQuere, University of East Anglia Gerald R. North, Texas A&M University Matthias Ruth, University of Maryland Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert E. Dickinson, The University of Texas at Austin, appointed by the Division on Earth and Life Studies, and George M. Hornberger, Vanderbilt University Institute for ix

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x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Energy and Environment, appointed by the Report Review Committee, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. The committee would like to thank the following individuals who of- fered direct input to the committee with meeting presentations and personal, phone, or email discussions, including: Todd J. Sanford, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CIRES, Kirsten Zickfield, Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Michael Eby, University of Vic- toria, Jonathan Patz, University of Wisconsin, Dan Cayan, Scripps Institu- tion of Oceanography, Joseph Goffman, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Dan Reifsnyder, U.S. Department of State, Reto Knutti, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Jeffrey Kiehl, NCAR, Leon Clark, PNNL, Eric Steig, University of Washington, Nigel Arnell, University of Reading, Phil Mote, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and Oregon Climate Services, Samuel Myers, Harvard University, and Andrew Weaver, Concordia University.

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Table of Contents SECTION I SYNOPSIS 3 SUMMARY 11 OVERVIEW OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND ILLUSTRATIVE IMPACTS 29 SECTION II 1 INTRODUCTION 49 1.1 The Foci of This Report: Climate Changes and Implications for a Range of Alternative Future Worlds, 49 1.2 Attribution, 53 2 EMISSIONS, CONCENTRATIONS, AND RELATED FACTORS 59 2.1 Contribution of Different Chemicals to CO2-Equivalent Levels and Climate Changes, 59 2.2 Information from Scenarios, 65 2.3 Short-lived Radiative Forcing Agents, 69 2.4 Carbon Cycle, 74 3 GLOBAL MEAN TEMPERATURE RESPONSES 83 3.1 Overview of Timescales and Climate Sensitivity, 83 3.2 Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, 85 3.3 Transient Climate Response and Sensitivity, 92 3.4 Cumulative Carbon, 97 xi

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xii CONTENTS 4 PHYSICAL CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE 21st CENTURY 105 4.1 Regional Patterns of Warming and Related Factors, 105 4.2 Precipitation Response, 114 4.3 Hurricanes, 118 4.4 Circulation and Related Factors, 0120 4.5 Temperature Extremes, 122 4.6 Precipitation Extremes, 123 4.7 Sea Ice, Snow, and Related Factors, 129 4.8 Sea Level Rise (inc. ice sheets and glaciers), 142 4.9 Ocean Acidification, 153 5 IMPACTS IN THE NEXT FEW DECADES AND COMING CENTURIES 159 5.1 Food Production, Prices, and Hunger, 159 5.2 Coastal Erosion and Flooding, 165 5.3 Streamflow, 169 5.4 Fire, 175 5.5 Infrastructure, 181 5.6 Health, 188 5.7 Ecology and Ecosystems, 196 5.8 Biological Ocean, 205 5.9 Illustrative Additional Factors, 211 6 BEYOND THE NEXT FEW CENTURIES 217 6.1 Long-term Feedbacks and Earth System Sensitivity, 217 6.2 Long-term Societal and Environmental Issues, 231 REFERENCES 235 APPENDIXES A Statement of Task 269 B Committee Membership 271 C Methods 279 D Acronym List 283