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Earth's Future


Constraining an increase in global mean temperature below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels is critical to limiting dangerous and cascading impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Understanding future climatic changes and their spatial heterogeneity at 2°C warming is thus important for policy makers to prepare actionable adaptation and mitigation plans by identifying where and to what extent lives and livelihoods will be impacted. This study uses the recently released NASA Earth eXchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP) CMIP6 data to provide a broad overview of projected changes in six key climate variables and two climate impact indicators at a time when warming exceeds 2°C. Analysis of global mean temperature changes indicates the 2040s as the decade when most CMIP6 models reach 2°C warming with respect to a pre-industrial period (1850–1900). During the 2040s, we find that global mean temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, downwelling shortwave and longwave radiation, and wind speed over land under the high emission scenario are projected to change by +2.8°C, +22.4 mm/year, −0.73%, −2.23 , +15.9 W/m2, and −0.04 m/s, respectively. Many of the future changes are expected to exacerbate climate impacts including heat stress and fire danger. Our analysis shows geographic patterns of policy-relevant climatic changes, as parts of the globe will experience significant climate impacts even if the goal to keep warming below 2°C goal is achieved. Our results highlight the urgent need for further studies focused on identifying key hotspots and advancing region-specific actionable adaptation and mitigation plans.


Published in Earth's Future by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Geophysical Union. Available via doi: 10.1029/2022EF003330.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.