It takes ten years for an emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) to have its maximum warming effects on the Earth, a new study shows. It was previously thought that the warming effects from a CO2 emission would not be felt for several decades.

The authors conclude that benefit from avoided CO2 emissions, and thus avoided droughts, heatwaves and flooding, will be manifested within the lifetimes of people who acted to avoid that emission.

Original research paper published by Environmental Research Letters on December 2, 2014.

Names and affiliations of selected authors

Katharine Ricke, Carnegie Institution for Science, U.S.A.