Global warming could accelerate rapidly, warns a new study.
Scientists say they can predict how bad global warming will get by examining Earth’s climate 50 million years ago.
For the first time, researchers were able to replicate a climate model of the extreme warming of a time before humans walked the Earth.
The Early Eocene Period was a time when there were no poles, or ice, and the land scorched. The scientists found the rate of warming dramatically increased as carbon dioxide levels rose – easily comparable to today.
This period was the hottest the Earth has been in the past 66 million years.
Jiang Zhu, a researcher at the University of Michigan, said the Earth could easily end up with that climate of 14 degrees (25 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer once again.
“This is not good news for us”
First author Dr Zhu said: “It is a scary finding because it indicates that the temperature response to an increase in carbon dioxide in the future might be larger than the response to the same increase in CO2 now.
“This is not good news for us.”
The rate of climate sensitivity currently ongoing has not been seen since the Early Eocene Period that many millions of years ago.
Scientists predict there will be less cloud coverage in the future, which can have a cooling effect on the atmosphere.
If nothing is done to limit carbon emissions, the researchers predicted the Earth could reach the same CO2 levels as the Early Eocene by the year 2100.
The report was published in the journal Science Advances.
According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), July 2019 had at least equalled and possibly exceeded the record for the hottest month in history.
It followed data showing the world had experienced the warmest June on record.
Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the UK all saw new national temperature records on 25 July.
The Met Office said it took a recording of 38.7C at Cambridge Botanic Garden, officially the highest temperature recorded in the UK.
Massive ice sheet melting faster than feared
Earlier this week a report revealed that ice sheets are melting faster than previously thought, with an exponential effect on melting ice caps and sea levels.
The massive Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than previously feared – threatening coastal cities around the world, according to new research.
Thick, impenetrable slabs are expanding so rapidly on the interior the run-off area has increased by 26 per cent since 2001.
They span miles with low permeability meaning surface water is not re-absorbed by porous snow that acts as a buffer.
It could contribute an extra three inches to sea level rise by the end of the century, say scientists.
Lead author Dr Mike MacFerrin, of Colorado University, said: “Even under moderate climate projections, ice slabs could double the size of the run-off zone by 2100.
“Under higher emissions scenarios, the run-off zone nearly triples in size.”
Earlier this year Professor Peter Wadhams, of the University of Cambridge, who has led 55 expeditions to the region, compared flowing melt water to the “Niagara Falls”.
Speaking from near the settlement of Kangerlussuaq where Dr Macferrin’s team was based, he said there had been “large changes” to the area since his last visit five years ago.
The professor, who first visited the Arctic in 1969, said: “It’s certainly a far more rapid rate of ice loss going on now than at any time in the past.
“The rate of global sea level rise is really completely dependent now on the loss from the Greenland ice sheet, that’s going to be going up quite rapidly.
“The first time I was here 30 years ago, there was never any melt from the Greenland ice sheet even in summer.”