One set of models has predicted a doubling of atmospheric CO2 could result in more than 5C of warming.
According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as little as 1.5C of warming is enough to considerably raise sea levels, increase ice cap melt and boost ocean acidity.
But a similar paper published by researchers at the University of Michigan, US, has also called into question the pessimistic outlook of some climate models.
In some cases, very sensitive climate models have predicted between 4.5C and 5.3C of warming.
Scientists are, therefore, keen to better understand just how much the planet is likely to warm in the coming years.
The lead author of the new study, PhD candidate Femke Nijsse, said: “In evaluating the climate models we were able to exploit the fact that thanks to clean air regulation, air pollution in the form of climate-cooling aerosols have stopped increasing worldwide, allowing the greenhouse gas signal to dominate recent warming.”
In their evaluations, the researchers looked at the amount of warming that occurs when atmospheric CO2 is doubled.
This measure is known as equilibrium climate sensitivity or ECS.
Since the industrial revolution, global warming trends have been on the rise as a result of man-led emissions of greenhouse gasses.
As of July 2020, the atmospheric levels of CO2 have reached 414 parts per million (ppm).
Richard Betts, Met Office Head of Climate Impacts Research and Professor, University of Exeter, said: “At the dawn of the industrial revolution, the Earth’s atmosphere contained 278 parts of CO2 per million.
“Today, after more than two and a half centuries of fossil fuel use, that figure is around 414 parts per million.
“If the build-up of CO2 continues at current rates, by 2060 it will have passed 560 ppm – more than double the level of pre-industrial times.”