Friday, September 27, 2013

IPCC Report Highlights - Summary for Policymakers

The first of the long awaited IPCC's Fifth Assessment Reports (AR5) has been released today.  It's from the IPCC Working Group 1 (WG1) and focuses on the scientific basis of climate change and contains 14 chapters plus a lot of supplementary material.

In this post I will reprint highlights from the IPCC Working Group 1 report 
"Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis"

Working Group 2 assessing "the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it. ..." is due to be released in March 2014

Working Group 3 dealing assessing "options for mitigating climate change through limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere. ..." is due to be released in April 2014

Then there will be a Synthesis Report released in October 2014.  


The IPCC "media portal"

The WG1 "Summary for Policymakers"

For more information about the IPCC working groups

Working Group 1's  home page

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A. Introduction
Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report
Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis
Summary for Policymakers

The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) considers new evidence of climate change based on many independent scientific analyses from observations of the climate system, paleoclimate archives, theoretical studies of climate processes and simulations using climate models. It builds upon the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), and incorporates subsequent new findings of research. ...

B. Observed Changes in the Climate System
Observations of the climate system are based on direct measurements and remote sensing from satellites and other platforms. Global-scale observations from the instrumental era began in the mid-19th century for temperature and other variables, with more comprehensive and diverse sets of observations available for the period 1950 onwards. Paleoclimate reconstructions extend some records back hundreds to millions of years. Together, they provide a comprehensive view of the variability and long-term changes in the atmosphere, the ocean, the cryosphere, and the land surface. ...

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. 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 (see Figures SPM.1, SPM.2, SPM.3 and SPM.4). {2.2, 2.4, 3.2, 3.7, 4.2–4.7, 5.2, 5.3, 5.5–5.6, 6.2, 13.2}

B.1 Atmosphere 
Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850 (see Figure SPM.1). In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence). {2.4, 5.3}

B.2 Ocean
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 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010 (see Figure SPM.3), and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971. {3.2, Box 3.1}

B.3 Cryosphere
Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence) (see Figure SPM.3).{4.2-4.7}

B.4 Sea Level
The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901-2010, mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m (see Figure SPM.3). {3.7, 5.6, 13.2} 

B.5 Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles
The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. COconcentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification (see Figure SPM.4). {2.2, 3.8, 5.2, 6.2, 6.3} 

C. Drivers of Climate Change
Natural and anthropogenic substances and processes that alter the Earth's energy budget are drivers of climate change. Radiative forcing14 (RF) quantifies the change in energy fluxes caused by changes in these drivers for 2011 relative to 1750, unless otherwise indicated. Positive RF leads to surface warming, negative RF leads to surface cooling. RF is estimated based on in-situ and remote observations, properties of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and calculations using numerical models representing observed processes. Some emitted compounds affect the atmospheric concentration of other substances. The RF can be reported based on the concentration changes of each substance15. Alternatively, the emission-based RF of a compound can be reported, which provides a more direct link to human activities. It includes contributions from all substances affected by that emission. The total anthropogenic RF of the two approaches are identical when considering all drivers. Though both approaches are used in this Summary, emission-based RFs are emphasized. 

Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of COsince 1750 (see Figure SPM.5). {3.2, Box 3.1, 8.3, 8.5} 

D. Understanding the Climate System and its Recent Changes
Understanding recent changes in the climate system results from combining observations, studies of feedback processes, and model simulations. Evaluation of the ability of climate models to simulate recent changes requires consideration of the state of all modelled climate system components at the start of the simulation and the natural and anthropogenic forcing used to drive the models. Compared to AR4, more detailed and longer observations and improved climate models now enable the attribution of a human contribution to detected changes in more climate system components.

Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system. {2–14}

D.1 Evaluation of Climate Models
Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence). {9.4, 9.6, 9.8}

D.2 Quantification of Climate System Responses 
Observational and model studies of temperature change, climate feedbacks and changes in the Earth’s energy budget together provide confidence in the magnitude of global warming in response to past and future forcing. {Box 12.2, Box 13.1}

D.3 Detection and Attribution of Climate Change
Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes (Figure SPM.6 and Table SPM.1). This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. {10.3–10.6, 10.9}

E. Future Global and Regional Climate Change
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. {Chapters 6, 11, 12, 13, 14}

E.1 Atmosphere: Temperature
Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 for all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. It is likely to exceed 2°C for RCP6.0 and RCP8.5, and more likely than not to exceed 2°C for RCP4.5. Warming will continue beyond 2100 under all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to-decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform (see Figures SPM.7 and SPM.8). {11.3, 12.3, 12.4, 14.8}

E.2 Atmosphere: Water Cycle
Changes in the global water cycle in response to the warming over the 21st century will not be uniform. The contrast in precipitation between wet and dry regions and between wet and dry seasons will increase, although there may be regional exceptions (see Figure SPM.8). {12.4, 14.3}

E.3 Atmosphere: Air Quality 
Observational and modelling evidence indicates that, all else being equal, locally higher surface temperatures in polluted regions will trigger regional feedbacks in chemistry and local emissions that will increase peak levels of ozone and PM2.5 (medium confidence).

E.4 Ocean
The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century.  Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation {11.3, 12.4}

E.5 Cryosphere
It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease. {12.4, 13.4} 

E.6 Sea Level
Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century (see Figure SPM.9). Under all RCP scenarios the rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971–2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets. {13.3– 13.5} 

E.7 Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles
Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of COin the atmosphere (high confidence). Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification. {6.4}

E.8 Climate Stabilization, Climate Change Commitment and Irreversibility
Cumulative emissions of COlargely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond (see Figure SPM.10). Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of COare stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2. {12.5} 

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