IPCC Scenarios Interactive

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognizes that future human behaviors will play a large role in determining how Earth's climate changes over the coming century. We simply don't know how societies and governments will deal with the problem of human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the years ahead. To account for this type of uncertainty, the IPCC has put forth several possible scenarios of future human GHG emissions. The interactive below provides an overview of the 6 major scenarios used by the IPCC in its attempts to estimate future climate.

Use the popup menu in the upper left corner of the interactive to select a scenario. Each listing provides a textual description of the scenario as well as graphs of the CO2 emissions, likely atmospheric CO2 concentrations that would result from that emissions trend, and the range of average global temperature increases that climate models predict from those CO2 levels.

Credit: Images courtesy of the IPCC (AR4 WG1 Chapter 10 p. 803 Figure 10.26).

Last modified January 6, 2010 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Spring 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist focuses on the ocean, including articles on polar research, coral reefs, ocean acidification, and climate. Includes a gorgeous full color poster!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

World Leaders Developing a New Plan to Help Earth’s Changing Climate

Leaders from 192 nations of the world are trying to make an agreement about how to limit emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mitigate climate change, and adapt to changing environmental conditions....more

What is Climate?

Climate in your place on the globe is called regional climate. It is the average weather pattern in a place over more than thirty years, including the variations in seasons. To describe the regional climate...more

Earth's Greenhouse Gases

Less than 1% of the gases in Earth's atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Even though they are not very abundant, these greenhouse gases have a major effect. Carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O),...more

Space Missions to study Earth's Atmosphere & Climate

Television weather forecasts in the space age routinely feature satellite views of cloud cover. Cameras and other instruments on spacecraft provide many types of valuable data about Earth's atmosphere...more

Modeling the Future of Climate Change

Predicting how our climate will change in the next century or beyond requires tools for assessing how planet responds to change. Global climate models, which are run on some of the world's fastest supercomputers,...more

Effects of Climate Change Today

The world's surface air temperature increased an average of 0.6° Celsius (1.1°F) during the last century according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This may not sound like very...more

What Controls the Climate?

A factor that has an affect on climate is called a “forcing.” Some forcings, like volcanic eruptions and changes in the amount of solar energy, are natural. Others, like the addition of greenhouse gases...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF