Warming Baked In

The trend of global warming is baked in for decades because oceans absorb 93% of the thermal energy from greenhouse gas emissions. This heat atmospherically equilibrates over ~35 years.

Even if no more emissions were made, atmospheric warming would still accelerate over the next 3.5+ decades from what the oceans have already stored. This phenomenon is marine thermal inertia. Continuing emissions only tilt the trendline steeper, accelerating warming even more.

Researchers report “ocean heat uptake has accelerated dramatically since the 1990s, nearly doubling during 2010–2020 relative to 1990–2000.”

global warming trend

As the flow of emissions still abides, the pace of global warming can only further hasten. There are numerous feedback loops, including deforestation, widespread wildfires, lower albedo (reflection) from melting glacial ice, which ensure a steeper tilt into hothouse.

As it is, average global surface air temperature will rise from 1.0°C in 2020 to over 2°C by 2050. Some regions of Earth are warming much faster. The polar regions are already 30°C above normal.

Also expectable is severe warming over landmasses in the high latitudes, including North America, Eurasia, and Australia. Cities will especially hot up, as urban areas are heat islands.

Given the current trends, Earth’s average atmospheric warming to at least 5°C by 2100 is a conservative estimate. Humans will be extinct by then, as the increasingly frequent catastrophes of extreme weather events take their inexorable toll.

Sources:

Gavin Schmidt, “Climate models can’t explain 2023’s huge heat anomaly — we could be in uncharted territory,” Nature (19 March 2024).

Data derives from the US government (NOAA & NASA), which coincides with data from the European Union and Australia.

Zhi Li et al, “Recent acceleration in global ocean heat accumulation by mode and intermediate waters,” Nature Communications (28 October 2023).

Hayley Smith, “Ocean temperatures are off the charts, and El Niño is only partly to blame,” Phys.org (13 June 2023).