IPCC 2013 Stockholm – Latest Findings on Climate Change

A photograph showing the bright Sun shining over the Chukchi Sea. The planet's far northern and southern latitudes are projected to experience the greatest change under increasing global temperatures - and in many cases they already are. Image: Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The IPCC 2013 Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its latest summary of the science behind human-caused climate change or, to use its catchy official title, the IPCC Working Group 1 Fifth Assessment Report Summary for Policy Makers – Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.

The document summary is 36 pages long.  The report includes 14 chapters and a dizzying amount of graphs, data and figures.  Here are just a few… 

 

Global Warming

Between the years 1880 and 2012, the World’s land and oceans have warmed by 0.85 degrees Celsius.  If greenhouse gas emissions remain on their current path, there will likely be an additional predicted 3.7 degrees Celsius rise in global surface temperatures, between 2081 and 2100.

 

Greenhouse Emissions

Between 1750 and 2011, the rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is 40%. 1,339,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel and cement production.

The total mounts up to 2,000,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 added to the atmosphere, if land clearing and deforestation are taken into consideration.

A shocking 2 trillion tonnes!

 

Sea Level Rise

Between 1901 and 2010, the World’s oceans have risen by 19 centimetres.  An extra 63 centimetres sea level rise is forecast if greenhouse gas emissions stay roughly on their current path, for the years between 2081 and 2100.

Between 1971 and 2010, scientists believe that 90% of the extra energy in the climate system has been taken up by the warming of oceans. 

 

A photograph showing polar bears climbing on icicles in the frozen Arctic.Ice Melting

From 1992 to 2001, 30,000,000,000 tonnes of ice are thought to have melted from the Antarctic Ice Sheet on average each year, while at the same, 34,000,000,000 tonnes of ice are believed to have melted away each year from the Greenland Ice Sheet.  Most recently, an astonishing 147,000,000,000 tonnes of ice from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and 215,000,000,000 tonnes of ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet, have also been melting on average each year from 2002 to 2011.

The amount of ice melted from the World’s glaciers is 275,000,000,000 tonnes per year between 1993 and 2009.

 

The Bottom Line

The report asserts that, since the 1950s, many of the observed changes in the climate system have been “unprecedented over decades to millennia”.  Scientists say they are now 95% certain that global warming is due to human activity at the surface of the Earth, such as fossil fuel consumption and deforestation.

“Human influence on the climate system is clear” concludes Thomas Stocker, from the University of Bern, Switzerland.

However, the report does not consider the impact of all of these changes on human societies and the planet’s ecosystems – arguably the real issue.  The next IPCC report looking at the impact of climate change on human societies and the planet’s ecosystems, is forecast for release in 184 days.

 

Sceptical Views

Since 1998, there has been a pause in the rise of global temperatures.  Natural fluctuation?  Or the big white elephant in the room?  Are the climate evolution models flawed?  The public remains sceptical.

As with all climate change science, those numbers come with ranges of uncertainty, which are outlined in the report itself.  Perfect knowledge will never be possible.

But the polar ice caps have seemingly been melting even faster than predicted in recent decades.  And the trend for global warming does remain on the up.

The report introduces a new variable into the equation.  It looks at the Ocean Heat Content.  The energy stored into the oceans could have temporarily been buffering the effect on global temperatures.

But for how long?

And what will really happen next?

 

 

Among the most peer-reviewed piece of scientific literature ever published…

A few more figures involved in this report for due consideration:

  • 600+ Contributing Authors to the full report from 32 countries;

  • 209 Lead Authors worked on the full report;

  • 1,089 Self-Appointed Expert Reviewers;

  • 50 Review Editors collaborated from 39 countries;

  • 2000+ pages in the full draft of Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis;

  • 1,400,000 Words in the full report;

  • 1,250 Figures, Charts and Graphs went into the full report;

  • 9,200 Scientific Publications were cited in the full report;

  • 54,677 Comments were made on the full report by the group of Self-Appointed Expert Reviewers.

  • 2,000,000+ Gigabytes of numerical data gathered from running models of the World’s climate systems.

  • 55 Countries were represented in the list of Expert Reviewers;

  • 39 Countries were represented in the list of authors and review editors for the Full Report.

 

The IPCC 2013 Report is one of the most peer-reviewed piece of scientific literature ever published.  This makes it a robust and scientifically valid report.

The Final Draft of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report will be available on 30 September 2013.