From Global Warming Art
Characterization of IPCC scenarios for the nature of the world in 2100.
Figure showing the man-made emissions of greenhouse gases by economic sector in the year 2000.
This figure documents the projected emissions and atmospheric concentration of nitrous oxide according to the six illustrative scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Nitrous oxide is the third most significant greenhouse gas in terms of emissions produced in the year 2000.
Emissions are expressed in million tonnes of nitrogen per year (MtN/yr) and concentration in parts per billion by volume (ppbv).
Each of these scenarios are developed to illustrate one of a range of possible technological, economic and ecological futures that the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios  considered plausible. Every scenario imagines a world in which no explicit action is taken to combat greenhouse gas emissions, but some scenarios (B1 and B2) explore worlds where "increased environmental awareness" lead independently to pollution controls and cleaner technology. In this sense, every scenario considers a possible world that might occur in the absense of concern for global warming, and thus represent the range of possible futures in the absense of explicit regulation. However, some (A1T) contemplate drastic changes to global energy infrastructure, while others (e.g. A1B) might be considered a more direct continuation of existing trends.
The wide breadth of scenarios considered to be possible is one of the key factors contributing the large uncertainty in estimates of global warming effects during the 21st century (1.4 to 5.8 °C from 1990 to 2100 [IPCC 2001a, ]). The other key factor is disagreement amongst models of the response expected for a given greenhouse gas concentration.
This image was constructed by Robert A. Rohde from data published in the IPCC SRES report.
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- [full text] IPCC (2001a). Houghton, J.T.,Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell, and C.A. Johnson (eds.): Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521807670.
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