Predicting changes: Using basic physics

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    Professor Iain Stewart explains how scientists can calculate how much additional heat would be trapped near the Earth’s surface if carbon dioxide (CO2) rose to double its preindustrial levels, by studying CO2 in laboratory experiments and measuring its concentration in the atmosphere. Scientists use equations based on the physical behaviour of the climate system to estimate how much global temperature could rise in response to doubled CO2 – known as the ‘climate sensitivity’. The results of these calculations are in broad agreement with estimates made using climate models or by looking at examples of past climate change.