Articles | Volume 6, issue 5
Development and technical paper
16 Oct 2013
Development and technical paper |  | 16 Oct 2013

A new climate dataset for systematic assessments of climate change impacts as a function of global warming

J. Heinke, S. Ostberg, S. Schaphoff, K. Frieler, C. Müller, D. Gerten, M. Meinshausen, and W. Lucht

Abstract. In the ongoing political debate on climate change, global mean temperature change (ΔTglob) has become the yardstick by which mitigation costs, impacts from unavoided climate change, and adaptation requirements are discussed. For a scientifically informed discourse along these lines, systematic assessments of climate change impacts as a function of ΔTglob are required. The current availability of climate change scenarios constrains this type of assessment to a narrow range of temperature change and/or a reduced ensemble of climate models. Here, a newly composed dataset of climate change scenarios is presented that addresses the specific requirements for global assessments of climate change impacts as a function of ΔTglob. A pattern-scaling approach is applied to extract generalised patterns of spatially explicit change in temperature, precipitation and cloudiness from 19 Atmosphere–Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs). The patterns are combined with scenarios of global mean temperature increase obtained from the reduced-complexity climate model MAGICC6 to create climate scenarios covering warming levels from 1.5 to 5 degrees above pre-industrial levels around the year 2100. The patterns are shown to sufficiently maintain the original AOGCMs' climate change properties, even though they, necessarily, utilise a simplified relationships between ΔTglob and changes in local climate properties. The dataset (made available online upon final publication of this paper) facilitates systematic analyses of climate change impacts as it covers a wider and finer-spaced range of climate change scenarios than the original AOGCM simulations.