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The University of Southampton

Research project: When will 1.5°C of warming occur, and what will the consequences be? (ADJUST1.5)

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The 2015 Paris Agreement aims ‘to limit the temperature increase [due to climate change] to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels’ – but how will this be defined, and what will the impacts be?

Understanding the pathways to and impacts of a 1·5°C rise in global temperature is internationally important to "strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change…. and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1·5°C above pre-industrial levels….". Our research will evaluate adjustable pathways to 1.5 °C, in which the emissions pathway responds to climate observations over the 21st century to maximise the likelihood of delivering the final warming target. We assess the consequences for temperature, sea-level, ocean pH, and societal consequences in the 2100 and beyond.

Over many years, scientists have advised policy makers on the likely causes, impacts and responses of different levels and contributions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The planet is warming, and global temperatures have risen around 1°C since pre-industrial times. If present trends continue there are wide spread concerns of the damage this could do to the planet. Until 2015, there had been limited international agreement of how to tackle climate change, and agreement of successful methods to mitigate. The Paris Agreement changed that. Now ratified, the Treaty aims to limit global mean temperature rise by 1.5°C. However, there is a limited research into understand how and when a 1.5°C may be reached, and the long-term consequences, particularly to sea-level rise. Our research aims to :

  • Determine different pathways of reaching 1.5°C, to assess cumulative emissions and when 1.5°C of warming is likely to occur.
  • Assess future emissions, and the potential of carbon removal technologies, including carbon capture and storage.
  • Analyse the effect of temperature rise on extreme sea-levels, extreme water levels and ocean pH.
  • Assess the impacts of sea-level rise in the coastal zone, globally and focusing on vulnerable areas, such as deltas or small, low-lying islands.


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