2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #39C

Climate change report “Gives no reason for optimism”

Amidst rumours that global warming has slowed over the past 15 years, the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that each of the last three decades has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

The warming of the climate is “unequivocal,” says the IPCC. “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.”

The IPCC Working Group 1 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) Summary for Policy Makers – Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis was released Friday Sept. 27 in Stockholm.

The full in-depth report will be published Monday Sept. 30, as the first of the four volumes of the AR5. 

Climate Change Report “Gives No Reason for Optimism” by Fabiola Ortiz, Inter Press Service (IPS), Sep 28, 2013 

Climate change? Try catastrophic climate breakdown

What the report describes, in its dry, meticulous language, is the collapse of the benign climate in which humans evolved and have prospered, and the loss of the conditions upon which many other lifeforms depend. Climate change and global warming are inadequate terms for what it reveals. The story it tells is of climate breakdown. 

Climate change? Try catastrophic climate breakdown by George Monbiot, The Guardian, Sep 27, 2013

CO2 reshaping the planet, meta-analysis confirms

Greenland will eventually truly become green as most of its massive ice sheet is destined to melt, the authoritative U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported Friday.

The IPCC’s new 36-page summary of the latest science includes a warning that there is a 20-percent chance the massive Greenland ice sheet will begin an irreversible meltdown with only 0.2 degrees C of additional warming. That amount of additional warming is now certain. However, it would take 1,000 years for all the ice to melt.

O2 Reshaping the Planet, Meta-Analysis Confirms by Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service (IPS), Sep 27, 2013

Global warming ‘unequivocal’ and ‘unprecedented’ – IPCC

Global warming is “unequivocal”, according to the fifth IPCC report which, after six years in preparation, delivers a detailed picture of the science behind climate change.

In the strongest language yet deployed in the fight against increasing temperatures, the report concluded that the 30 years until 2012 were probably the warmest in 1,400 years, driven by “unprecedented” levels of greenhouse gases – these are now at levels not seen for 80,000 years.

The conclusion of hundreds of authors is that it is “extremely likely” that human activity has been the “dominant cause” of the rising temperatures witnessed during the 20th century.

Global warming ‘unequivocal’ and ‘unprecedented’ – IPCC by Michael Parker, The Conversation, Sep 27, 2013

IPCC: 30 years to climate calamity if we carry on blowing the carbon budget

The world's leading climate scientists have set out in detail for the first time how much more carbon dioxide humans can pour into the atmosphere without triggering dangerous levels of climate change – and concluded that more than half of that global allowance has been used up.

If people continue to emit greenhouse gases at current rates, the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere could mean that within as little as two to three decades the world will face nearly inevitable warming of more than 2C, resulting in rising sea levels, heatwaves, droughts and more extreme weather.

This calculation of the world's "carbon budget" was one of the most striking findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the expert panel of global scientists who on Friday produced the most comprehensive assessment yet of our knowledge of climate change at the end of their four-day meeting in Stockholm. 

IPCC: 30 years to climate calamity if we carry on blowing the carbon budget by Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, Sep 27, 2013

IPCC: where to for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean?

The general thrust of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report – released on Friday – can be summarised as: “there is now more evidence that climate change is occurring". Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are significant drivers of the global climate system, and the report has some detailed findings on what is happening in this region.

As the complete reports of the IPCC are released the questions about how much we know about the Antarctic – or more importantly, how much we don’t know – will become apparent. Our understanding of past climate will be enhanced by further studies, including of ice cores. This is vital, in order to understand what our future climate may be.

IPCC: where to for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean? by Tony Press, The Conversation, Sep 28, 2011

Is it time to ditch the climate 'bible'?

Jean Jouzel, a French scientist who is vice chairman of the group that issued Friday's report, said that though the technical text is authored by scientists "it is the adoption of the summary which gives the IPCC its success, and enables it (the summary) to be used by governments".

But some critics say these mega-reviews spanning thousands of pages belong to the past.

The process is agonisingly slow at a time when both climate change and the science used to evaluate it are leaping ahead, they say.

And the need for consensus makes these comprehensive judgements worryingly conservative.

Is it time to ditch the climate 'bible'? by Richard Ingham, AFP, Sep 27, 2013

Melting arctic permafrost looms as major factor

A heavyweight boxer in the climate change match is missing from the fifth climate assessment report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Friday.

Permafrost, which is frozen ground that doesn't melt during the summer, covers 24 percent of the land in the northern hemisphere. It also stores approximately 1.5 trillion tons of carbon – twice the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere.

When the organic matter that makes up permafrost thaws, the carbon it contains becomes exposed to the elements, which can escape into the air in the form of heat-trapping gases with the potential to knock out efforts to slow down global warming with a one-two punch.

This effect, called the permafrost carbon feedback, is not present in the global climate change models used to estimate how warm the earth could get over the next century.  But research done in the past few years shows that leaving the permafrost effect out of the climate models results in a far more conservative estimate of how our climate will change.

Melting Arctic Permafrost Looms as Major Factor in Warming, Climate Change by Angela Fritz, Wunderground, Sep 27, 2013

No more denial. Time to act on climate change

Our leaders must set the climate change gainsayers to one side and confront imminent catastrophe.

No more denial. Time to act on climate change, Op-ed by Editorial Board, The Observer, Sep 28, 2013

The 5 most sobering charts from the IPCC climate report

The first installment in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest scientific assessment on climate science came out on Friday, and it’s loaded with dense terminology, expressions of uncertainty, and nearly impenetrable graphics.

But we'll make it simple for you. Here’s what you need to know, in number and chart form.

The 5 Most Sobering Charts from the IPCC Climate Report by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Sep 27, 2013

The IPCC, climate change and bad faith attacks on science

It happens every six years or so: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes its assessment of the current state of scientific understanding regarding human-caused climate change. That assessment is based on contributions from thousands of experts around the world through an exhaustive review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature and a rigorous, several-years-long review process. Meanwhile, in the lead-up to publication, fossil-fuel industry front groups and their paid advocates gear up to attack and malign the report, and to mislead and confuse the public about its sobering message.

The IPCC, Climate Change and Bad Faith Attacks on Science by Michael E. Mann, Huffington Post, Sep 28, 2013

Why more climate science hasn't led to more climate policy - yet

It’s worth offering a bit more context on a point I raised in my morning post on the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Will the fresh assessment of global warming from the panel matter where it counts, in the realm of environmental and energy policy and diplomacy?

In the short run, no. And this is not only because of disinformation campaigns, as some would assert.

Why More Climate Science Hasn’t Led to More Climate Policy – Yet by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Sep 27, 2013


Posted by John Hartz on Sunday, 29 September, 2013

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