Tuesday, January 30, 2007

IPCC report looks set to alarm

Here's another teaser for the release of the next report from the IPCC:

The most important report on the science of climate change for six years is set for release on Friday 2 February, and leaks suggest it will be an alarming read.

The minimum predicted temperature and sea level rises will jump, according to media reports, while the blame will be pinned firmly on greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Its leading line is expected to be "there is a 90% chance humans are responsible for climate change", mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels.

That contrasts with the last version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report, issued in 2001, which concluded there was a 66% chance that humans were responsible for rising temperatures.

The new IPCC report is expected to predict that temperatures will rise by 2.0°C to 4.5°C by 2100. The 2001 report gave a range of 1.4°C and 5.8°C – a wider range and a lower minimum rise.

Similarly, the new report is believed to predict that sea-levels will rise by between 28 centimetres and 43 cm by 2100, compared with the 2001 prediction of between 9 cm and 88 cm (2.54 cm = 1 inch).

...The IPCC draws together hundreds of the world's leading experts on climate science, under the auspices of the World Meteorology Organization and the UN Environment Programme, to review and assess all available research.

The result of their assessment, which is done every five to six years, establishes what is considered the gold standard of consensus on climate change science.

The new IPCC report was written by 1250 experts and reviewed by a further 2500. It is being released in stages during 2007. The first chapter, due on 2 February, deals with the scientific basis for climate change. This includes, for example, how the atmosphere responds to increasing levels of greenhouse gases, how the gases cycle through the environment, and changes in water temperature and sea-levels.
In related news, glaciers continue to decline at an accelerated pace.