We now have the clearest picture of how different the world is today as a result of man-made climate change. The most comprehensive report The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today published the science of climate change physics.
Extreme events – from floods to heat waves and droughts – have worsened, say in a nutshell. Scientists are even more certain than before that human greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane (which make up the majority of “natural gas”) are guilty.
“We’ve known for decades that the world is warming, but this report tells us that recent climate change is widespread, rapid, intensifying and unprecedented for thousands of years,” IPCC Vice President Ko Barrett said. press conference on 8 August. “It is undeniable that human activity is causing climate change.”
The IPCC is considered the leading climate authority, and its new report features more than 230 authors from 66 countries around the world. Today’s findings will update a similar report in 2013, and will then include a study published in scientific journals.
Scientists have received a much better estimate of how much climate change will affect individual weather phenomena from 2013, making a big difference this time around. For example: in July a record heat wave In the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada winding roads and killed hundreds of people. In less than two weeks, an international team of researchers was able to determine that the extreme heat would have been ”practically impossible“Without climate change.
Nearly all regions outside the world’s polar regions have seen an increase in extreme heat since the 1950s, according to a new IPCC report. According to the report, extreme heat waves occur five times more often around the world than between 1850 and 1900 (baseline, often referred to as the pre-industrial period). Heat also exacerbates drought in some parts of the world. Drought, which used to occur only once a decade, is now 70 percent more common than in the pre-industrial era.
However, the consequences of climate change are different and far-reaching. Severe storms and floods are another growing problem. What used to be once every ten years is today 30 percent more common. For tropical hurricanes, a higher proportion of major storms (rating 3 or higher) have been reported, meaning that hurricanes and typhoons have intensified.
“Extreme weather is more common across the planet,” Paola Andrea Arias Gómez, one of the authors of the IPCC report, said at the news conference. “We can now see that these changes are mainly due to human activity.”
More bad news: without radical action to curb the use of fossil fuels, things will get worse. Leading climate experts have set the goal of limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, to avoid some of the worst-case scenarios that climate change may pose. We have already reached a 1.1 degree warming, and the report says we can reach or even exceed this dreaded 1.5 degree threshold over the next couple of decades.
What does it mean for extreme weather? Prepare for “unprecedented” events – basically things that have never happened before. The authors of the report outline five ways in which this is expected to happen in the future: extreme events are even more extreme. They come more often. There is a greater chance that extreme events will occur in succession or even different disasters will occur simultaneously. They happen in places that surprise us. And the timing of these disasters is unpredictable.
The new report presents all sorts of other problems, such as disappearing ice, rising sea levels and frightening turning points that could accelerate the pace of the air crisis. The IPCC is also expected to publish two other key reports early next year: one outlining how all these changes on the planet are affecting people’s lives as we know it, and another outlining possible solutions. Today’s report in particular is the only one that will be completed in time for the UN climate conference in November, when world leaders are expected to discuss commitments to curb pollution caused by global warming.
“This report is a reality check,” Valérie Masson-Delmotte, chair of the IPCC working group responsible for the report, said in a statement. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential to understanding where we are going, what can be done and how we can prepare.”