IPCC and the Arctic
Posted on 01 April 2007
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents a dire outlook for the Arctic and the rest of the planet unless something drastic is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions.The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents a dire outlook for the Arctic and the rest of the planet unless something drastic is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The IPCC report confirms much of what is already known about the current and projected impacts of climate change in the Arctic. Over the last few decades, arctic surface air temperatures have warmed at around twice the global rate and major ecosystem shifts are beginning to be seen in areas such as the Bering Sea (see box below).
If climate change continues along the scenario trajectories projected by the IPCC, then some arctic species, especially the toplevel predators, could decline or disappear altogether.
IPCC experts state clearly that some climate change is already unavoidable, but that there is still time to protect against some of the most disastrous effects. This response must come as part of a broad and rapid change of development strategies, looking to avoid continued significant carbon dioxide emissions.
Dr Lara Hansen, chief scientist in WWF’s Global Climate Change Programme, said: “The IPCC makes it clear that there is a window of opportunity – but that it’s closing fast. The world needs to use its collective brains to think ahead for the next ten years and work together to prevent this crisis.”
In the IPCC’s strongest conclusion yet regarding the cause of climate change, it says that it is 90–99 percent likely that climate change is caused by humans.
Sea ice retreating faster than IPCC models predicted
A recent study by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) concluded that satellite and other observations show that arctic ice cover is actually retreating more rapidly than estimated by any of the 18 computer models used by the IPCC in preparing its 2007 assessments.
Mark Serreze, NSIDC scientist and coauthor of the study, said: “Our study indicates that the impacts of greenhouse gases on arctic sea ice are strong and growing.” See the back cover for a comparison of actual observations versus the decline predicted by IPCC models.
Nigel Allan firstname.lastname@example.org