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Gampe, David; Schwingshackl, Clemens; Böhnisch, Andrea; Mittermeier, Magdalena; Sandstad, Marit; Wood, Raul R. (2024): Applying global warming levels of emergence to highlight the increasing population exposure to temperature and precipitation extremes. Earth System Dynamics, 15 (3). pp. 589-605. ISSN 2190-4987

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The swift and ongoing rise of global temperatures over the past decades led to an increasing number of climate variables showing statistically significant changes compared to their pre-industrial state. Determining when these climate signals emerge from the noise of internal climate variability (i.e., estimating the time of emergence, ToE) is crucial for climate risk assessments and adaptation planning. However, robustly disentangling the climate signal from internal variability represents a challenging task. While climate projections are communicated increasingly frequently through global warming levels (GWLs), the ToE is usually still expressed in terms of time horizons. Here, we present a framework to robustly derive global warming levels of emergence (GWLoE) using five single-model initial-condition large ensembles (SMILEs) and apply it to four selected temperature and precipitation indices. We show that the concept of GWLoE is particularly promising to constrain temperature projections and that it proves a viable tool to communicate scientific results. We find that > 85 % of the global population is exposed to emerged signals of nighttime temperatures at a GWL of 1.5 °C, increasing to > 95 % at 2.0 °C. Daily maximum temperature follows a similar yet less pronounced path. Emerged signals for mean and extreme precipitation start appearing at current GWLs and increase steadily with further warming (∼ 10 % population exposed at 2.0 °C). Related probability ratios for the occurrence of extremes indicate a strong increase with widespread saturation of temperature extremes (extremes relative to historical conditions occur every year) reached below 2.5 °C warming particularly in (sub)tropical regions. These results indicate that we are in a critical period for climate action as every fraction of additional warming substantially increases the adverse effects on human wellbeing.

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