The IPCC is releasing a massive new report on global warming. But is there anything we didn’t already know back in 1990?
Posts tagged IPCC.
As for letters on climate change, we do get plenty from those who deny global warming. And to say they “deny” it might be an understatement: Many say climate change is a hoax, a scheme by liberals to curtail personal freedom.
Before going into some detail about why these letters don’t make it into our pages, I’ll concede that, aside from my easily passing the Advanced Placement biology exam in high school, my science credentials are lacking. I’m no expert when it comes to our planet’s complex climate processes or any scientific field. Consequently, when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts — in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review.
And those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change. Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a body made up of the world’s top climate scientists — said it was 95% certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming. The debate right now isn’t whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us.
On why the LATimes avoids publishing op-eds by climate deniers. Well done, LATimes.
And why should the world care about its new climate report? We tell you everything you need to know to sound smart at a cocktail party.
Scientists will hike pressure next week on the UN’s troubled climatetalks as they release a report pointing to the dizzying challenge of meeting the international body’s target for global warming.
In the first volume of a massive trilogy, the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its projections for warming by 2100.
Just a single scenario — and by far the toughest to achieve — sees the possibility of safely anchoring the temperature rise to within two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), according to a draft seen by AFP.
In the other projections, the UN’s much-trumpeted 2 C goal will be overshot.
At the very top of the range, warming would be more than double the UN target and more than triple that set by vulnerable small-island states.
Warming on this scale would gravely accentuate the peril from drought, flood, storms and rising seas.
"It’s been known for a long time that we are running out of time," said Alden Meyer, with the US environmental group the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
"The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes and the more expensive it gets."
The UN’s panel of climate scientists has issued only four overviews in 25 years. The last was in 2007 and despite fierce opposition from skeptics, climate science has made many advances since then.
The work released in Stockholm on Friday comprises a 2,000-page report authored by 257 scientists, plus a 31-page Summary for Policymakers.
What The Science Says
Surface temperature measurements are affected by short-term climate variability, and recent warming of deep oceans.
Why doesn’t the temperature rise at the same rate that CO2 increases?
The amount of CO2 is increasing all the time - we just passed a landmark 400 parts per million concentration of atmospheric CO2, up from around 280ppm before the industrial revolution. That’s a 42.8% increase.
A tiny amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, like methane and water vapour, keep the Earth’s surface 33°Celsius (59.4°F) warmer than it would be without them. We have added 42% more CO2 but that doesn’t mean the temperature will go up by 42% too.
There are several reasons why. Doubling the amount of CO2 does not double the greenhouse effect. The way the climate reacts is also complex, and it is difficult to separate the effects of natural changes from man-made ones over short periods of time.
As the amount of man-made CO2 goes up, temperatures do not rise at the same rate. In fact, although estimates vary - climate sensitivity is a hot topic in climate science, if you’ll forgive the pun - the last IPCC report (AR4) described the likely range as between 2 and 4.5 degrees C, for double the amount of CO2 compared to pre-industrial levels.
So far, the average global temperature has gone up by about 0.8 degrees C (1.4 F).
“According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)…the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4°Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” Source: NASA Earth Observatory
Must see talk by Dr. Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He shows how most climate scientists are being disingenuous about the dangers of climate change. That their estimates are far too low due, in part, to the current trend of scientists working with the public (e.g., post-normal science).
The above climate talk is among my my top 10 favorites. It’s also a sobering reality check for the CO2/350 crowd.
There is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary.Dr. Kevin Anderson
It led to the creation of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which publishes major climate reports every five-ish years. These reports are the primary source for many policy maker’s (and media’s) climate science and knowledge. I play a minor role in the IPCC’s reports. Here’s how.
Organized by the World Meteorological Organization, it was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Researchers and a few policy makers gathered to present new scientific observations about global warming and its impacts. It also explored new techniques on monitoring systems.
One of the main drivers of holding a Climate Conference was increased awareness that food, drought, and other climate related systems were much more sensitive to fluctuations. Several disasters in the 1960s and 70s created a fundamental need for more climate science to better understand these systems. It was showcased increased scientific knowledge that GHGs caused warming, and that governments around the world needed to take some sort of pre-emptive action before system collapse.
The First World Climate Conference recognized climate change as a serious problem in 1979. This scientific gathering explored how climate change might affect human activities. It issued a declaration calling on the world’s governments “to foresee and prevent potential man-made changes in climate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity”. It also endorsed plans to establish a World Climate Programme (WCP) under the joint responsibility of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). Via UNFCCC
Several programs were created as a result of the World Climate Conference, including the World Climate Programme and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (e.g., the IPCC).
The IPCC was established in 1988, and released its first report in 1990. The IPCC issues highly peer-reviewed, non-political climate reports about every 5 years. Their 5th report will be published in 2014. Here’s a link to the 4th report summary, published in 2007.
These reports are written by the top scientists and researchers in the world. I play a minor role in the IPCC.
The reports are divided into three chapters: The Physical Science; Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and Mitigation. Each chapter is written by a committee, called a Working Group, comprised of several hundred to over a thousand scientists. These Working Groups peer review the available climate science. They then write a meta-analysis and conclusions based on their reviews.
Next, each of the three chapters are reviewed and edited by what’s called Expert Reviewers, of which I am one. I’m currently reviewing/editing Working Group II’s 5th Report: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Fun stuff…
You can see some of the work the WGII has done, here.
More movement in Congress on Climate Change. Sunday I posted about the new 22 member “Safe Climate Caucus,” who have vowed to discuss climate impacts and solutions every time congress is in session.
Signs of activity as the ‘climate silence’ from the President and Congress come to an end: On February 13 Senate Environment Committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a “Briefing on the Latest Climate Science" featuring scientists Jim McCarthy, Don Wuebbles, J. Marshall Shepherd, and John Balbus. Seven Democratic members of the committee in attendance; all Republican members appeared to be AWOL.
An archived webcast of the briefing is posted on the Environment and Public Works Committee’s website (the briefing starts at 12:30 of the webcast), along with written testimony by:
• Dr. James J. McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University; leader of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (2001) on global climate change impacts and vulnerabilities.
• Dr. Donald J. Wuebbles, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois.
• Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, President of the American Meteorological Society and Director for Program in Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia.
• Dr. John M. Balbus, Senior Advisor for Public Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Each of the presenters gave a concise state-of-the-science overview for Senators and staff, followed by a substantial question-and-answer period.
This is result of a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperatures. The chart is from the World Bank and it shows the rate of melting ice from 1983 to 2012. The temperature across the world is expected to rise by nearly 4 degrees Celsius, which greatly exceeds the above impacts.
Turn Down the Heat, a new report from the World Bank, presents the many compelling reasons why we need to avoid a 4 degree Celsius temperature increase (the trajectory we are currently on to reach by the end of this century.)
This troubling graphic from the NSIDC shows just how quickly climate change has already taken a toll on arctic sea ice since 1983.
But, there are two buckets of trouble here. First is the nearly endless troubles from melting ice on human and natural environments. Mass ice melt causes sea level rise, which destroys coastlines, habitat, deltas, mangroves, coral reefs, and of course cities and tourism.
Melting glaciers will also disrupt the flow of rivers, aquifer recharge, and electricity (hydropower and nuclear power). Many rivers around the world get their water from glaciers, and the same holds for aquifers, which fuel drinking water and irrigation supplies to billions around the world.
Take the glaciers in the Andes mountains for one example. Several have already disappeared, completely melting away. They’re melting faster than scientists predicted, and Peru has asked the United States for emergency funds to build damns to contain the water produced from the last remaining glaciers. The damns, in other words, would store the water rather than glaciers. There are too many to list here, but the effects are enormous.
The second problem is much simpler, but deeply embarrassing: 4 degree Celsius. Americans do not understand Celsius, they understand (sort of) temperature in terms of Fahrenheit.
Nearly all climate change reporting focuses on 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. We hear it so often from the UN, IPCC, even the US National Climate Assessment quotes Celsius. The problem is that it is not true!
The projected rise in temperatures will vary across the globe. Temperatures in New England are expected to rise by nearly 6-10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of 2100. But this isn’t the case for the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures are expected to rise by as little as 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, not only is reporting one common number (2 degrees Celsius) confusing for Americans, it’s not even a relevant number. As comical and embarrassing as those facts are, there’s no escaping American Ignorance.
This is a major communications problem that scientists just do not grasp. American’s think in terms of their own communities and regions. New England will not feel the same types of impacts as the Southwest, and the folks in each of these regions think very little of the temperatures elsewhere. (I know, there are a few exceptions).
Why did I bring this Celsius vs Fahrenheit issue up? The United States is the most powerful country in the world (despite our education and health deficiencies). The rest of the world, including the World Bank, which put out the above report on climate, requires U.S. support. Climate change solutions require American support. And if scientists refuse to speak the native language, no one is going to listen…
Satellites and tide-gauges show that oceans are rising 60% faster than the worst case scenarios of climate scientists. This new report analyzing reality vs computer models shows that scientific estimates of rising sea levels were too low and too slow.
"The rate of sea level rise of the past decades, on the other hand, is greater than projected by the IPCC models. This suggests that IPCC sea level projections for the future may also be biased low.”
This is very bad news, and I’m nearly speechless after reading the report… The folks at Climate Central, who wrote this piece covering the report, are much more optimistic than I am.
60 second summary of 20-years of the world’s governments climate change talks. Warning, Scandinavian humor.
In 2007, Tom Swetnam, a fire expert and director of the laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, gave an interview to CBS’s 60 Minutes. Asked to peer into his crystal ball, he said he thought the Southwest might lose half its existing forests to fire and insects over the several decades to come. He immediately regretted the statement. It wasn’t scientific; he couldn’t back it up; it was a shot from the hip, a WAG, a wild-ass guess.
Swetnam’s subsequent work, however, buttressed that WAG. In 2010, he and several colleagues quantified the loss of southwestern forestland from 1984 to 2008. It was a hefty 18%. They concluded that “only two more recurrences of droughts and die-offs similar or worse than the recent events” might cause total forest loss to exceed 50%. With the colossal fires of 2011 and 2012, including Arizona’s Wallow fire, which consumed more than half-a-million acres, the region is on track to reach that mark by mid-century, or sooner.
But that doesn’t mean we get to keep the other half.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast a temperature increase of 4ºC for the Southwest over the present century. Given a faster than expected build-up of greenhouse gases (and no effective mitigation), that number looks optimistic today. Estimates vary, but let’s say our progress into the sweltering future is an increase of slightly less than 1ºC so far. That means we still have an awful long way to go. If the fires we’re seeing now are a taste of what the century will bring, imagine what the heat stress of a 4ºC increase will produce. And these numbers reflect mean temperatures. The ones to worry about are the extremes, the record highs of future heat waves. In the amped-up climate of the future, it is fair to think that the extremes will increase faster than the means.William deBuys, The West in Flames | TomDispatch (via nickturse)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chance (IPCC) has opened a call for applications for the second round of awards under the IPCC Scholarship Programme.
The IPCC Scholarship Programme aims to build capacity in the understanding and management of climate change in developing countries by providing opportunities for young scientists from developing countries to undertake studies that would not be possible without funding under the programme.
Applicants must be post-graduate students under the age of 30 studying at PhD level. They must have already been accepted at a recognized educational institution to start studies in 2013, or be currently enrolled on continuing PhD courses. Research proposals should focus on one of the following fields of study:
- Socio-economic modelling related to climate change
- Underlying science of climate change
- Climate change and water
Applicants must be nationals of developing countries and priority will be given to students from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
With a value of up to USD 20,000 per year, each award will be given for a period of one year and is renewable once, subject to satisfactory progress during the period of study and term reports signed by the research supervisor.
Applications will undergo a two-level selection process. IPCC scientific experts will first assess the applications in an initial review and the IPCC Science Board will then review the applications and make a final selection. The candidates selected for an award will be notified individually during the second quarter of 2013.
The IPCC Scholarship Programme was established with the funds received from the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The IPCC Scholarship Programme benefits from the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Students interested in applying for an IPCC scholarship can download application forms at:
Completed application forms and supporting documents should be uploaded by 30 September 2012 at: