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Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes
Even if we are able to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, Earth could likely see drastic and rapid climate change this century, new research by NASA's Jim Hansen suggests. Detailed analysis of the Earth's paleoclimate history of recent interglacial periods reveals we are less than a degree Celsius away from equaling a time when sea level was several meters higher than today. In all, paleoclimate data paints a different picture than models about the sensitivity of the climate system, and indicates that a popular warming mitigation target -- limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius -- would not be sufficient to avoid dramatic climate changes.

  • James Hansen, Director, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York
  • Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist, Department of Global Ecology Carnegie Institute of Washington, Stanford University, Stanford, Cal.
  • Eelco Rohling, Professor of Ocean and Climate Change, Southampton University, Southampton, U.K.

Presenter Materials

› Briefing slides (pdf format)
› Briefing slides (pptx format)