The Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) were developed for the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They are values which represent four future scenarios of changes in radiative forcing due to anthropogenic greenhouse gasses: RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6 and RCP8.5. These values stand for the change in radiative forcing expected in 2100 in contrast to pre-industrial forcing (1850).
RCP 2.6, for example, represents a forcing of 2.6 W/m2. This scenario would lead to an increase in global temperatures of 1°C relative to 1996–2005 to 2100. If the other scenarios are true, different increases in temperatures would arise. RCP4.5 would lead to an increase in global mean temperature of anywhere from 1,9°C RCP6 to +2.4°C. RCP8.5 would lead to an increase of 3.5°C. However, the global mean values reveal relatively little about the geographical distribution of the temperature increase. It is assumed that the temperature will rise significantly faster in the interior of the continents and in the high northern latitudes. The Arctic Ocean, northern Siberia and northern Canada will be particularly affected.