Climate Change Widespread, Rapid, and Intensifying – IPCC

Climate Change Widespread, Rapid, and Intensifying – IPCC

Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. That’s according to a report published today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change.

The report states that many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.

The influence of human activity on climate change is referenced in the report with the scientific community responsible for the report saying it is ‘unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.’

The IPCC Working Group 1 Report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, is the first instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022.

The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well as progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

IPCC Working Group Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte called the report a ‘reality check’ and said,  ‘We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.’

The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.

Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming, aside from changes to temperature. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans. In a break-down of the projected impacts of 2°C warming across different parts of Europe an increase in severe wind storms is projected for Northern Europe, while drought conditions and increased fire weather are projected for Western, Central and Eastern Europe along with the Mediterranean region where extreme sea levels are also projected.

Image by Gerald Simmons/Via CreativeCommons/CC BY 2.0

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