Our Climate is Changing: The IPCC Report

If you have been perusing today’s headlines or listening to the radio today, there’s a good chance you heard something about a new report on global climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – and that the news is not good.

The report states that scientists are now more certain – in fact, 95% certain – that the Earth is warming due to human activity. According to the report, both our atmosphere and our oceans have warmed, while snow and ice have decreased and sea levels have risen. Looking ahead, they expect these patterns to continue during this century as we continue to rely on, and burn, fossil fuels for energy.

Photo via Flickr – Credit: Captain Kimo

Photo via Flickr – Credit: Captain Kimo

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve lived through what scientists consider to be the most dramatic warm up in more than a millennium. According to the report, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years. What’s more, they state that each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.

Photo via Flickr – Credit: mikebaird

Photo via Flickr – Credit: mikebaird

The IPCC report explains that concentrations of greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide and methane, have increased since 1750 due to human activity, with levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. To study climate change, researchers look at Earth observations using direct measurement and remote sensing from satellites. Scientists measure prehistoric greenhouse gas rates using ice cores.

Photo via Flickr – Credit: NASA ICE

Photo via Flickr – Credit: NASA ICE

According to the report, “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.”

Photo via Flickr – Credit: Antarctica Bound

Photo via Flickr – Credit: Antarctica Bound

So what does all of this mean for weather?
Scientists aren’t exactly sure how our changing climate will shape the weather in the decades to come, or how climate change may help bring about the next extreme storm. There is still much to learn. But according to research recently published by the American Meteorological Society, a strong connection between a warming world and extreme weather looks likely.

While attributing any individual weather event to climate change is not possible, we should expect more frequent extreme events like Superstorm Sandy, the recent Colorado floods, the Texas drought of two years ago, and the horrific twister that ripped through Moore, Okla., earlier this year.

Fast Facts

  • This is the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on climate change. The last one was issued in 2007.
  • More than 200 Lead Authors and 50 Review Editors from 39 countries and more than 600 Contributing Authors from 32 countries contributed to the preparation of the report.
  • This assessment comprises about 2,500 pages of text.
  • The report draws on millions of observations and over 2 million gigabytes of numerical data from climate model simulations.
  • Over 9,200 scientific publications are cited, more than three quarters of which have been published since the last IPCC assessment in 2007.

Stay Safe. Know Before™.
-The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team

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