Climate change is here and now

CLIMATE CHANGE 2013: The Physical Science Basis.

If you want the facts on Climate Change, read this article!  It is a summary of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an association of scientists throughout the world, who have produced a new report in which they state: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

In this report, a level of confidence among the hundreds of scientists who contributed to the report is expressed using five terms: very low, low, medium, high, and very high, e.g. “medium confidence”.

Current trends in Climate Change

Atmosphere

Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence).

Ocean

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.

Icecaps and Ice Sheets

Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence)

Sea Level

The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 m

Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Carbon dioxide concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.

Understanding Climate Change

The largest contribution to global warming is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750.  Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.  Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.  Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Models

Climate models have improved. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century.  Most of the scenarios were modelled with CO2 concentrations reaching 421 ppm (Model 1), 538 ppm (Model 2), 670 ppm (Model 3), and 936 ppm (Model 4) by the year 2100. Today’s CO2 concentrations are 397ppm; in 1958 they were 317ppm.

Future Global and Regional Climate Change

Future surface temperature

Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 for all scenarios except Model 1. It is likely to exceed 2°C for Models 3 and 4, and more likely than not to exceed 2°C for Model 2. Warming will continue beyond 2100 under all RCP scenarios except Model 1. Warming will not be regionally uniform.

Climate change diag 2

It is virtually certain that there will be more frequent hot and fewer cold temperature extremes over most land areas on daily and seasonal timescales as global mean temperatures increase. It is very likely that heat waves will occur with a higher frequency and duration. Occasional cold winter extremes will continue to occur.

Water Cycle

Changes in the global water cycle in response to the warming over the 21st century will not be uniform. The contrast in precipitation between wet and dry regions and between wet and dry seasons will increase, although there may be regional exceptions. Extreme storms/monsoons over most of the mid-latitude land masses and over wet tropical regions will very likely become more intense and more frequent by the end of this century, as global mean surface temperature increases.

Ocean

The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation. It is very likely that the Gulf Stream will weaken over the 21st century.

Icecaps and Ice Sheets

It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease.

Sea Level

Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century (see Figure SPM.9). Under all RCP scenarios, the rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971 to 2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets.

Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles

Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (high confidence). Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification.

CONCLUSION

Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.

For a link to the original report, CLICK HERE

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Comments

  1. Janice Raine-Conick says:

    An illuminating report, even if a distributing one. The IPCC are providing clear information, presumably to Governments, and this information needs wide dissemination amongst the population because:
    A) I still don’t think that the population at large really have grasped the enormity of the changes we’re all facing and
    B) The population at large MUST lobby local and national politicians to effect Government policy in regard of reduction in carbon emissions, adoption of green energy policies and the development of policies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

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