Making headlines on climate models, sensitivity and statements

Priestley Centre director Piers Forster has commented and written about a clutch of climate stories making headlines, including a News and Views piece for Nature on climate sensitivity, a discussion on improving climate models in Carbon Brief (both published 17 January 2018) and an AGU positioning statement on climate intervention, published today (18 January).

Commenting on the Nature paper by Cox et al, which rules out the worst-case global warming scenarios of four or five degrees increase in temperatures by 2100, Piers Forster hails the “ingenious approach” of the authors to refining estimates about equilibrium climate sensitivity.

“The idea underpinning this work is so enviably simple that it will make climate scientists ask, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?'”

Whilst cautioning that the new findings must be interpreted carefully, Forster is hopeful that the implications may mean staying within the temperature targets of well below 2°C of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. “So, rather than being jealous, I should thanks Cox and colleagues for helping me to sleep a little easier in my bed at night.”

Prof Forster is quoted in stories covering the paper in The Guardian, Washington Post, The Times, South China Morning Post, Channel News Asia and Carbon Brief.

Piers Forster also appears in Carbon Brief in a round up of leading climate scientists’ opinions on how to improve climate models, in which he talks about the uncertainty created by clouds and how observations by new satellite technology have helped test the models.

In a positioning statement issued by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Prof Forster is one of nine scientists in a team led by David Victor to contribute to the updated statement on climate intervention. The statement calls for deep reductions in greenhouse pollutants as well as employing climate interventions, including carbon dioxide removal (CDR) – through approaches such as large-scale afforestation – and albedo modification (AM) by putting reflective particles into the upper atmosphere or seeding clouds.