Alternatives to the Global Warming Potential for Comparing Climate Impacts of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is used within the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a metric for weighting the climatic impact of emissions of different greenhouse gases. The GWP has been subjected to many criticisms because of its formulation, but nevertheless it has retained some favour because of the simplicity of its design and application, and its transparency compared to proposed alternatives. Here, two new metrics are proposed, which are based on a simple analytical climate model. The first metric is called the Global Temperature Change Potential and represents the temperature change at a given time due to a pulse emission of a gas (GTPP); the second is similar but represents the effect of a sustainedemission change (hence GTPS). Both GTPP and GTPS are presented as relative to the temperature change due to a similar emission change of a reference gas, here taken to be carbon dioxide. Both metrics are compared against an upwelling-diffusion energy balance model that resolves land and ocean and the hemispheres. The GTPP does not perform well, compared to the energy balance model, except for long-lived gases. By contrast, the GTPS is shown to perform well relative to the energy balance model, for gases with a wide variety of lifetimes. It is also shown that for time horizons in excess of about 100 years, the GTPS and GWP produce very similar results, indicating an alternative interpretation for the GWP. The GTPS retains the advantage of the GWP in terms of transparency, and the relatively small number of input parameters required for calculation. However, it has an enhanced relevance, as it is further down the cause–effect chain of the impacts of greenhouse gases emissions and has an unambiguous interpretation. It appears to be robust to key uncertainties and simplifications in its derivation and may be an attractive alternative to the GWP.
- Fisher, D. A., Hales, C. H., Wang, W. -C., Ko, M. K. W. and Sze, N. D.: 1990, ‘Model calculation on the relative effects of CFCs and their replacements on global warming’, Nature 344, 513–516.
- Fuglestvedt, J. S., Berntsen, T. K., Godal, O., Sausen, R., Shine, K. P. and Skodvin, T.: 2003, ‘Metrics of climate change: Assessing radiative forcing and emission indices’, Clim Change 58, 267–331.
- Fuglestvedt, J. S., Berntsen, T., Godal, O. and Skodvin, T.: 2000, ‘Climatic implications of GWP-based reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 27, 409–412.
- Godal, O.: 2003, ‘The IPCC’s assessment of multidisciplinary issues: The case of greenhouse gas indices’, Clim. Change 58, 243–249.
- Hammitt, J. K., Jain, A. K., Adams, J. L. and Wuebbles, D. J.: 1996, ‘A welfare-based index for assessing environmental effects of greenhouse-gas emissions’, Nature 381, 301–303.
- Hansen, J., Sato, M. and Ruedy, R.: 1997, ‘Radiative forcing and climate response’, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 102, 6831–6864.
- Hartmann, D. L.: 1996, Global Physical Climatology, Academic Press, New York.
- Harvey, L. D. D. and Schneider, S. H.: 1985, ‘Transient climate response to external forcing on 100–104 year time scales, Part 2: Sensitivity experiments with a seasonal, hemispherically averaged, coupled atmospheric, land, and ocean energy balance model, J. Geophys. Res. 90, 2207–2222. CrossRef
- Hasselmann, K., Hasselmann, S., Giering, R., Ocana, V. and van Storch, H.: 1997, ‘Sensitivity study of optimal CO2 emission paths using a structural integrated assessment model (SIAM)’, Clim. Change 37 37345–386.
- Hoffert, M. I., Callegari, A. J. and Hseih, C. T.: 1980, ‘The role of the deep sea heat storage in the secular response to climate forcing’, J. Geophys. Res. 85, 6667–6679.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): 1990, Climate Change: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scientific Assessment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- IPCC: 1995, Climate Change 1994. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- IPCC: 1996, Climate Change 1995. The Science of Climate Change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- IPCC: 2001, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- Joos, F., Bruno, M., Fink, R., Stocker, T. F., Siegenthaler, U., Le Quéré, C. and Sarmiento, J. L.: 1996, ‘An efficient and accurate representation of complex oceanic and biospheric models of anthropogenic carbon uptake’, Tellus 48B, 397–417.
- Joshi, M. M., Shine, K. P., Ponater, M., Stuber, N., Sausen, R. and Li, L.: 2003, ‘A comparison of climate response to different radiative forcings in three general circulation models: Towards an improved metric of climate change’, Clim. Dyn. 20, 843–854.
- Kandlikar, M.: 1995, ‘The relative role of trace gas emissions in greenhouse gas abatement policies’, Energy Policy 23, 879–883.
- Manne, A. S. and Richels, R. G.: 2001, ‘An alternative approach to establishing trade-offs among greenhouse gases’, Nature 410, 675–677.
- Meira Filho, L. G. M. and Miguez, J. D. G.: 2000, ‘Note on the time-dependent relationship between emissions of greenhouse gases and climate change’, Technical Note of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Federative Republic of Brazil, Available at: http://www.mct.gov.br/cli ma/ingles/negoc/proposta.htm, July 2004.
- O’Neill, B. C.: 2000, ‘The jury is still out on global warming potentials’, Clim. Change 44, 427–443.
- O’Neill, B. C.: 2003, ‘Economics, natural science, and the costs of the global warming potential’, Clim. Change 58, 251–260.
- Raper, S. C. B., Gregory, J. M. and Osborn, T. J.: 2001, ‘Use of an upwelling diffusion energy balance model to simulate and diagnose A/OGCM results’, Clim. Dyn. 17, 601–613.
- Sausen, R. and Schumann, U.: 2000, ‘Estimates of the climate response to aircraft CO2 and NOx emission scenarios’, Clim. Change 44, 27–58.
- Schmalensee, R.: 1993, ‘Comparing greenhouse gases for policy purposes’, Energy J. 14, 245–255.
- Sihra, K., Hurley, M. D., Shine, K. P. and Wallington, T. J.: 2001, ‘Updated radiative forcing estimates of sixty-five halocarbons and non-methane hydrocarbons’, J. Geophys. Res. 106, 20493–20505.
- Skodvin, T. and Fuglestvedt, J. S.: 1997, ‘A comprehensive approach to climate change: Political and scientific considerations’, Ambio 26, 351–358.
- Smith, S. J.: 2003, ‘The evaluation of greenhouse gas indices’, Clim. Change 58, 261–265.
- Smith, S. J. and Wigley, T. M. L.: 2000a, ‘Global warming potentials, 1: Climatic implications of emissions reductions’, Clim. Change 44, 445–457.
- Smith, S. J. and Wigley, T. M. L.: 2000b, ‘Global warming potentials, 2: Accuracy’, Clim. Change 44, 459–469.
- Wigley, T. M. L.: 1998, ‘The Kyoto protocol: CO2, CH4 and climate implications’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 25, 2285–2288.
- Wigley, T. M. L. and Raper, S. C. B.: 1993, ‘Future changes in global-mean temperature and sea level. In: Warrick, R. A., Barrow, E. M. and Wigley, T. M. L. (eds.), Climate and Sea Level Change: Observations, Projections and Implications, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- WMO: 1999, Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 1998: Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project Report No 44, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
- Wuebbles, D. J., Jain, A. K., Patten, K. O. and Grant, K. E.: 1995, ‘Sensitivity of direct global warming potentials to key uncertainties’, Clim. Change 29, 265–297.
- Alternatives to the Global Warming Potential for Comparing Climate Impacts of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
Volume 68, Issue 3 , pp 281-302
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Meteorology, The University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
- 2. CICERO – Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo, Norway
- 3. National Meteorological Services Agency, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- 4. DLR – Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany