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Representative Concentration Pathway

On demand of the IPCC, the scientific community developed the RCPs to explore scenarios for various future GHG concentrations in the atmosphere and their associated impacts on the climate (Moss et al., 2008; 2010; Van Vuuren et al., 2011). The RCPs’ scenarios focus on the expected radiative forcing values[1] until 2100. However, they are unspecific regarding the underlying socioeconomic conditions under which these plausible futures may happen.

[1] Radiative forcing measures the imbalance between the amount of energy that enters the Earth’s atmosphere from the sun and the amount of energy reflected into space. The higher the radiative forcing, the more warming the Earth will experience (Hansen et al., 1997).

Hansen, J., Sato, M., & Ruedy, R. (1997). Radiative forcing and climate response. Journal of Geophysical Research, 102, 6831-6864. 

Moss, R.H., Babiker, M., Brinkmann, S., Calvo, E., Carter, T., Edmonds, J., … Zurek, M. (2008). Towards new scenarios for analysis of emissions, climate change, impacts, and response strategies. IPCC Expert Meeting Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Moss, R.H., Edmonds, J.A., Hibbard, K.A., Manning, M.R., Rose, S.K., van Vuuren, D.P., … Wilbanks, T.J. (2010). The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature 463, 747-756.

Van Vuuren, D.P., Stehfest, E., den Elzen, M.G., Kram, T., van Vliet, J., Deetman, S., … van Ruijven, B. (2011). RCP2.6: Exploring the possibility to keep global mean temperature increase below 2°C. Climatic Change, 109, 95-116.

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