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Original Research Papers

The relationship between peak warming and cumulative CO2 emissions, and its use to quantify vulnerabilities in the carbon–climate–human system

Authors:

Michael R. Raupach ,

Centre for Atmospheric, Weather and Climate Research, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research; ESSP Global Carbon Project, AU
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Josep G. Canadell,

Centre for Atmospheric, Weather and Climate Research, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research; ESSP Global Carbon Project, AU
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Philippe Ciais,

LSCE/IPSL, Laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, CEA de Saclay, FR; ESSP Global Carbon Project, AU
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Pierre Friedlingstein,

LSCE/IPSL, Laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, CEA de Saclay, FR; ESSP Global Carbon Project, AU
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Peter J. Rayner,

LSCE/IPSL, Laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, CEA de Saclay, FR
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Catherine M. Trudinger

Centre for Atmospheric, Weather and Climate Research, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, AU
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Abstract

Interactions between the carbon cycle, climate and human societies are subject to several major vulnerabilities, broadly defined as factors contributing to the risk of harm from human-induced climate change. We assess five vulnerabilities: (1) effects of increasing CO2 on the partition of anthropogenic carbon between atmospheric, land and ocean reservoirs; (2) effects of climate change (quantified by temperature) on CO2 fluxes; (3) uncertainty in climate sensitivity; (4) non-CO2 radiative forcing and (5) anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Our analysis uses a physically based expression for T p(Q p), the peak warming T p associated with a cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emission Qp to the time of peak warming. The approximations in this expression are evaluated using a non-linear box model of the carbon-climate system, forced with capped emissions trajectories described by an analytic form satisfying integral and smoothness constraints. The first four vulnerabilities appear as parameters that influence T p(Q p), whereas the last appears through the independent variable. In terms of likely implications for T p(Q p), the decreasing order of the first four vulnerabilities is: uncertainties in climate sensitivity, effects of non-CO2 radiative forcing, effects of climate change on CO2 fluxes and effects of increasing CO2 on the partition of anthropogenic carbon.

How to Cite: Raupach, M.R., Canadell, J.G., Ciais, P., Friedlingstein, P., Rayner, P.J. and Trudinger, C.M., 2011. The relationship between peak warming and cumulative CO2 emissions, and its use to quantify vulnerabilities in the carbon–climate–human system. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 63(2), pp.145–164. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0889.2010.00521.x
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  Published on 01 Jan 2011
 Accepted on 22 Nov 2010            Submitted on 20 Dec 2009

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