A network of interdisciplinary scholars studying past climate change
A team of researchers led by J. Lelieveld has published a study in the latest issue of the journal Climatic Change that compares Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of the late twenty-first century climate in the Near East and Eastern Europe with 500-year records of its climatic past. By comparing these different datasets the study concludes that a gradual warming of 3.5-7 degrees Celsius is probable in the century between 1961-1990 and 2070-2099. Lelieveld and his fellow scholars acknowledge that the region is diverse, but with extreme climatic events already common the influence of a warmer climate will likely be especially severe. Daytime maximum temperatures will probably increase most rapidly in the northern periphery of the region, with hot summers that were extreme in the historical record becoming the norm by the conclusion of the twenty-first century. The study describes how precipitation in most seasons will likely decrease in southern Europe, while it may increase in the Arabian Gulf. Lelieveld and the other co-authors conclude that the climatic changes anticipated in the coming century will exacerbate heat stress, particularly in urban areas, while increasing shortages of fresh water in the Levant. Ultimately the article reveals with particular clarity how the consideration of climates undertaken by historical climatologists relates to a better understanding of a warmer future.