Science Publications

Uncertainties of global warming metrics: CO2 and CH4

Reisinger, A.M. MeinshausenM. Manning, and G. Bodeker (2010), Uncertainties of global warming metrics: CO2 and CH4Geophys. Res. Lett.37, L14707, doi:10.1029/2010GL043803.

We present a comprehensive evaluation of uncertainties in the Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Global Temperature Change Potential (GTP) of CH4, using a simple climate model calibrated to AOGCMs and coupled climate-carbon cycle models assessed in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). In addition, we estimate uncertainties in these metrics probabilistically by using a method that does not rely on AOGCMs but instead builds on historical constraints and uncertainty estimates of current radiative forcings. While our mean and median GWPs and GTPs estimates are consistent with previous studies, our analysis suggests that uncertainty ranges for GWPs are almost twice as large as estimated in the AR4. Relative uncertainties for GTPs are larger than for GWPs, nearly twice as high for a time horizon of 100 years. Given this uncertainty, our results imply the possibility for substantial future adjustments in best-estimate values of GWPs and in particular GTPs.

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