Climate Change 2013 report: What Will Happen?

While most news outlets focus in on the question of who is to blame for climate change (us humans or some other cause) I myself like to focus on the consequences it has in store for us. Who cares who’s to blame at this point? It’s much more prevalent to look at the (if any) impact it will have on your surroundings so you can prepare for it.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I is scheduled to come out with the final draft of the groups contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on September 30. It will give scientists’ latest take on the topic of climate change and will lay out projections for climate change through the end of the century. It will provide a comprehensive view of the variability and long-term changes in the atmosphere, the ocean, the cryosphere, and the land

An already released summary for policy makers states a few interesting tidbits on what we have to look forward to in the report:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.

On the Atmosphere:

Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850 (see Figure SPM.1). In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence).

On the Ocean:

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010 (see Figure SPM.3), and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.

On the Cryosphere:

Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent.

On Sea Levels:

The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19.

On Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles:

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.

On Drivers of Climate Change:

Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750.

All in all there’s not much here to put our minds at ease . We’re losing ice mass at an alarming rate, sea levels are rising, temperature is increasing and the output of carbon dioxide (the extremely likely culprit) seems to be unstoppable. Enough reasons to at least read the upcoming report. I’ll keep you posted on my findings.

You can read the summary for policy makers here.

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