The earth is more sensitive to climate change than predicted by previous studies, including those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says a new study by a team of British and American researchers.
The researchers found that changes in vegetation and land ice cover, which are not accounted for in traditional climate modelling studies, have a significant impact on global climate change.
If these factors are included the earth could be as much as 50 per cent more sensitive to an increase in carbon dioxide, they said.
“If we want to define safe levels of carbon dioxide concentration for generations to come and into the next few centuries, then these results are important to take account of,” said Dan Lunt, main author of the study, which appeared on Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Traditional climate models don’t include vegetation and ice sheet data because it is hard to come by. The scientists used data from previous warm periods in the earth’s history to create the model.