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Biodiversity & Environment

Special Report on Climate Change: IPCC

  • 26 Sep 2019
  • 5 min read

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made public ‘The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ which underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers, and ice-deposits on land and sea at the United Nations Climate Summit underway in the United States.

  • The published report is the last in a series of three reports on specific themes that IPCC has published namely:
  • The report also updates the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report — and summarises the disastrous impacts of warming based on current projections of global greenhouse gas emissions.

IPCC's 5th Assessment Report

  • The IPCC prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports about the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place.
  • However, IPCC does not conduct its own research.
  • The Assessment Report released by IPCC in 2014 was the 5th in a series of such reports.
  • 6th Assessment Report of IPCC is expected to be released in 2022.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Over the 21st century, the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions with increased temperatures, further ocean acidification, marine heatwaves and more frequent extreme El Niño and La Niña events.
  • Ocean Warming:
    • Global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system.
    • Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming and marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency and intensity.
  • Global Mean Sea-Level:
    • It has increased by 16 cm between 1902 and 2015, and that the rate of increase had doubled of late.
    • Between 2006 and 2015, the global mean sea level recorded an average rise of 3.6 mm per year, which was more than double of 1.4 mm per year recorded in the first 90-year-period of the 20th century.
    • Sea-level rise is not globally uniform and varies regionally. Regional differences, within 30 % of global mean sea-level rise, result from land ice loss and variations in ocean warming and circulation
  • The Melting of Glaciers:
    • Between 2006 and 2015, the Greenland ice sheet lost ice-mass at an average rate of 278 billion tonnes every year (e.g. Okjokull glacier of Iceland), which was enough to result in a global sea-level rise of 0.8 mm per year. During the same period, the Antarctic ice sheet lost a mass of 155 billion tonnes on an average every year.
    • Snow cover outside these two poles, like the glaciers in the Himalayas, together lost an average of 220 billion tonnes of ice every year.
    • The melting glaciers are the dominant source of sea-level rise, exceeding the effect of thermal expansion of ocean water (due to rising temperatures).
  • Since the mid-20th century, the shrinking cryosphere has led to predominantly negative impacts on food security, water resources, water quality, livelihoods, health, and well-being, as well as the culture of human societies, particularly for Indigenous peoples.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change.
  • It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
  • IPCC assessments provide a scientific basis for governments at all levels to develop climate-related policies, and they underlie negotiations at the UN Climate Conference – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Source: TH

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