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Trends and patterns in the contributions to cumulative radiative forcing from different regions of the world
  • Published Date:
    2018
  • Source:
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(52), 13192-13197.
Filetype[PDF-891.79 KB]


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  • Description:
    Different regions of the world have had different historical patterns of emissions of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, and aerosols as well as different land-use changes. One can estimate the net cumulative contribution by each region to the global mean radiative forcing due to past greenhouse gas emissions, aerosol precursors, and carbon dioxide from land-use changes. Several patterns stand out from such calculations. Some regions have had a common historical pattern in which the short-term offsets between the radiative forcings from carbon dioxide and sulfate aerosols temporarily led to near-zero radiative forcing during periods of exponential emissions growth with few emission controls. This happened for North America and Europe in the mid-20th century and China in the 1990s and 2000s. However, these same periods lead to a commitment to future radiative forcing from the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that stay in the atmosphere long after the aerosols. For every region, this commitment to future radiative forcing (2018-2100) from emissions already in the atmosphere is larger than the cumulative radiative forcing to date (1900-2017). This comparison again highlights how the full radiative forcing from greenhouse gases is unmasked once the aerosol emissions are reduced to improve air quality. The relative contributions from various regions to global climate forcing depends more on the time the contributions are compared (e.g., now or 2100) and future development scenarios than on whether cumulative radiative forcing, ocean heat content, or temperature is used to compare regional contributions.
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