What does the future hold for humanity and our changing climate in the 21st century? Using projections from the IPCC Fifth Report and the climate science literature, we've put together a timelapse showing what may lie ahead.
On the left hand side of the screen you'll see an "optimistic" view, where although we continue to emit carbon dioxide at significant levels, investments in clean energy and mitigation try to curb the damage.
On the right hand side, you'll see a future where humanity emits as much as we please and very little mitigation takes place.
The data presented in this video are a projection of the 21st century. We used two of the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP), presented in the IPCC Fifth Report, as plausible scenarios - although these are not strictly forecasts. Seasonal variations were added using a stochastic generator conditioned upon observed seasonal variability reported by NASA GISS.
Similarly, seasonal variability in carbon dioxide levels were simulated based on historical seasonal variations about a moving average predicted using the RCP models. Special thanks to Gavin Schmidt for advice during the course of this video production.
( Source: Cool Worlds Lab, Columbia University )