Friday, September 27, 2013

IPCC Releases Physical Science Basis Climate Report

Sep 27: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Working Group I (WGI) contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) – the first of three major reports that will be released over the next several months. The new assessment by IPCC -- Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis -- was approved today by member governments of the IPCC in Stockholm, Sweden. The report concludes that the human influence on the climate system is clear. According to a release, it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.
    IPCC indicates that, "Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850." The role of the IPCC is to supply policy-relevant information about climate change to the world's governments. The complete AR5 Report will be considered by negotiators responsible for concluding a new agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015.
    Despite the claims of the IPCC and the 259 authors and review editors of the WGI report and the hundreds of contributing authors and expert reviewers, four Republican Senators -- David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) -- are claiming that the Administration is downplaying "the importance of the 15-year hiatus in global temperature increases in the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report." [See WIMS 9/26/13].
    The Senators indicate, "The AP reported that several nations lobbied the IPCC to select a conclusion to their report that might account for, or otherwise hide, the lack of global warming since 1998.  In addition, the AP noted the United States government chose to ignore the potential for flaws in the climate models used by the IPCC, while also lobbying the IPCC on the possibility that oceans had absorbed global warming."
    Qin Dahe, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I said, "Observations of changes in the climate system are based on multiple lines of independent evidence. Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased."
    Thomas Stocker, the other Co-Chair of Working Group I said, "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. Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is projected to be likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 in all but the lowest scenario considered, and likely to exceed 2°C for the two high scenarios Heat waves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the Earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions."
    Projections of climate change are based on a new set of four scenarios of future greenhouse gas concentrations and aerosols, spanning a wide range of possible futures. The Working Group I report assessed global and regional-scale climate change for the early, mid-, and later 21st century.
Co-Chair Qin Dahe said, "As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years." The report finds with high confidence that 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.
    Co-Chair Thomas Stocker concluded: "As a result of our past, present and expected future emissions of CO2, we are committed to climate change, and effects will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 stop."
    Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said, "This Working Group I Summary for Policymakers provides important insights into the scientific basis of climate change. It provides a firm foundation for considerations of the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems and ways to meet the challenge of climate change."
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press statement, "This is yet another wakeup call: Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire. Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate.

    "Boil down the IPCC report and here's what you find: Climate change is real, it's happening now, human beings are the cause of this transformation, and only action by human beings can save the world from its worst impacts. This isn't a run of the mill report to be dumped in a filing cabinet. This isn't a political document produced by politicians. It's science.

    "It builds on the most authoritative assessments of knowledge on climate change produced by scientists, who by profession are conservative because they must deal in what is observable, provable and reviewable by their peers. If this isn't an alarm bell, then I don't know what one is. If ever there were an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it.

    "What one country does impacts the livelihoods of people elsewhere -- and what we all do to address climate change now will largely determine the kind of planet we leave for our children and grandchildren. With those stakes, the response must be all hands on deck. It's not about one country making a demand of another. It's the science itself, demanding action from all of us. The United States is deeply committed to leading on climate change. We will work with our partners around the world through ambitious actions to reduce emissions, transform our energy economy, and help the most vulnerable cope with the effects of climate change. We do so because this is science, these are facts, and action is our only option.

    World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud commented saying, "Multiple lines of evidence confirm that the extra heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is warming the Earth's surface to record levels, heating the oceans, raising sea levels, melting ice caps and glaciers, and changing weather patterns and extremes. The IPCC report demonstrates that we must greatly reduce global emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. It also contains important new scientific knowledge that can be used to produce actionable climate information and services for assisting society to adapt to the impacts of climate change."

    UN Under Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Climate change is a long term challenge but one that requires urgent action, not tomorrow but today and right now, given the pace and the scale by which greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and the rising risks of a more than 2 degree C temperature rise. For those who want to focus on the scientific question marks, that is their right do so. But today we need to focus on the fundamentals and on the actions. Otherwise the risks we run will get higher with every year."

    "A universal new UN climate agreement by 2015 is critical, backed by supportive voluntary initiatives such as those managing down short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon. As work under the inclusive Green Economy shows, the benefits of a transition to a low carbon future are multiple from improved public health, food security and job generation to combating climate change now and for future generations."

    Access complete information on the WGI report (click here). Access release from Secretary Kerry (click here). Access a release from UNEP (click here). Access a release from the Senators including the complete letter (click here). Access the IPCC website for additional information (click here). [#Climate]