Letter | Published:

Assessment of the first consensus prediction on climate change

Nature Climate Change volume 3, pages 357359 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

In 1990, climate scientists from around the world wrote the First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It contained a prediction of the global mean temperature trend over the 1990–2030 period that, halfway through that period, seems accurate. This is all the more remarkable in hindsight, considering that a number of important external forcings were not included. So how did this success arise? In the end, the greenhouse-gas-induced warming is largely overwhelming the other forcings, which are only of secondary importance on the 20-year timescale.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the international RCP Concentration Calculation and Data Group for the historical forcing data, and the UK Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies for global temperature data. M. Allen provided helpful comments on an earlier draft. D.J.F. would like to thank the Oxford Martin School and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment for support. D.A.S. would like to acknowledge funding from Microsoft Research with further support from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office, through the International Detection and Attribution Group.

Author information

Author notes

    • Dáithí A. Stone

    Present address: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road, MS 50F-1650, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

Affiliations

  1. NZ Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6012, New Zealand

    • David J. Frame
  2. Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2BQ, UK

    • David J. Frame
  3. Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK

    • David J. Frame
    •  & Dáithí A. Stone
  4. Climate Systems Analysis Group, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa

    • Dáithí A. Stone
  5. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK

    • Dáithí A. Stone

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Contributions

D.J.F. and D.A.S. wrote the text and D.A.S. performed the calculations.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to David J. Frame or Dáithí A. Stone.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1763

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