The climate change challenge is formidable as the changes are irreversible, US scientists warn even as President Obama outlines his energy plans.
The scientists concluded global temperatures could remain high for 1,000 years, even if carbon emissions can somehow be halted.
Their report was sponsored by the US Department of Energy and comes as President Obama announces a review of vehicle emission standards.
The findings of the scientists appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team warned that if carbon levels in the atmosphere continued to rise there would be less rainfall in already dry areas of southern Europe, North America, parts of Africa and Australia.
The scientists say the oceans are currently slowing down global warming by absorbing heat, but they will eventually release that heat back into the air.
"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide the climate would go back to normal in 100 years, 200 year - that's not true," said researcher Susan Solomon, the lead author of the report, quoted by AP news agency.
Their conclusions come as President Obama ordered the US Environmental Protection Agency to review rules on carbon emissions from passenger vehicles.
Outlining his energy priorities, he said the country would not be held "hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes, and a warming planet".
He called for greater fuel efficiency and an "energy economy" aimed at creating millions of jobs.
He also ordered a review of whether states can set car emission standards.
This challenges a Bush administration decision which favoured a national standard for vehicle pollution.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton picked Todd Stern - who took part in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations on climate change from 1997 to 1999 - as her envoy for climate change, the state department said.
Mr Stern, who served under former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001, will be the Obama administration's principal adviser on international climate policy and strategy as well as its chief climate negotiator.
"Containing climate change will require nothing less than transforming the global economy from a high-carbon to a low-carbon energy base," said Mr Stern after Mrs Clinton announced his appointment.
"But done right, this can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and become a driver for economic growth in the 21st Century."