Top Quotes from the UN's Global Warming Report

Mon, 2007-11-19 14:28Kevin Grandia
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Top Quotes from the UN's Global Warming Report

With everyone being so busy all the time, I thought I would give a quick snapshot of the key findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) final report that was released on Saturday after a week of negotiations by government officials from around the world.

This is the final report of the IPCC and probably the most valuable, as it will be used as a key reference documents at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting that will be held in Bali, Indonesia at the beginning of December. At the meeting in Bali government leaders will begin negotiations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

If you want to read the entire document, here's the link to the PDF version. If you only have 5 minutes or so, here's the key findings pulled directly from the report:

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850).”

“Rising sea level is consistent with warming (Figure SPM.1). Global average sea level has risen since 1961 at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3]mm/yr and since 1993 at 3.1 [2.4 to 3.8]mm/yr, with contributions from thermal expansion, melting glaciers and ice caps, and the polar ice sheets. Whether the faster rate for 1993 to 2003 reflects decadal variation or an increase in the longer-term trend is unclear.”

“Observed decreases in snow and ice extent are also consistent with warming (Figure SPM.1). Satellite data since 1978 show that annual average Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk by 2.7 [2.1 to 3.3]% per decade, with larger decreases in summer of 7.4 [5.0 to 9.8]% per decade. Mountain glaciers and snow cover on average have declined in both hemispheres.”

“From 1900 to 2005, precipitation increased significantly in eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe and northern and central Asia but declined in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia. Globally, the area affected by drought has likely2 increased since the 1970s.”

“It is very likely that over the past 50 years: cold days, cold nights and frosts have become less frequent over most land areas, and hot days and hot nights have become more frequent. It is likely that: heat waves have become more frequent over most land areas…”

“Average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely the highest in at least the past 1300 years.”

“Observational evidence4 from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases.”

“Of the more than 29,000 observational data series, from 75 studies, that show significant change in many physical and biological systems, more than 89% are consistent with the direction of change expected as a response to warming…”

“Global GHG emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004.”

“Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important anthropogenic GHG. Its annual emissions grew by about 80% between 1970 and 2004. The long-term trend of declining CO2 emissions per unit of energy supplied reversed after 2000.”

“Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have increased
markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years.”

“There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.”

“Most of the observed increase in globally-averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] GHG concentrations.”

“During the past 50 years, the sum of solar and volcanic forcings would likely have produced cooling.”

“Human influences have: very likely contributed to sea level rise during the latter half of the 20th century; likely contributed to changes in wind patterns, affecting extra-tropical storm tracks and temperature patterns; and, likely increased temperatures of extreme hot nights, cold nights and cold days.”

“Continued GHG emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many
changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century.”

“The uptake of anthropogenic carbon since 1750 has led to the ocean becoming more acidic with an average decrease in pH of 0.1 units. Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead to further acidification.”

“Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if GHG concentrations were to be stabilised.”

“Anthropogenic warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate and magnitude of the climate change. “


Previous Comments

I give IPCC all the credit in the world for at least making fence sitters take notice. Every environmental cause should have such a mechanism for churning out science to overcome and overwhelm the skeptics. I noticed that this past weekend the biodiversity camp is getting closer to its own version of IPCC, only they call it IMoSEB. I’ve summarized the report in my frog blog, and the link to the report is in there, too: