The new Special Report of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published on 25 September 2019, and things are rather worrying.
The report is about the oceans and cryosphere status. In plain words, it is about the frozen parts of Earth.
Read our extended post on Global Warming.
The Data for the Climate Change Intergovernmental Report
The SROCC (Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate) report from the IPCC working groups, was written by 104 principal authors, coming from 36 countries, based on 6.981 scientific publications.
The report went through three rounds of consultation, during which 31.176 comments from 80 countries were submitted.
The report summary was approved by the representatives of the 195 county-members of IPCC.
Why this the IPCC Special Report is Important
Life on Earth is mostly influenced by the ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet.
You need to know that the sum of 670 million people that reside in high mountain regions, along with another 680 million people in low coastal zones depend on these systems.
There are 4 million people permanently living in the Arctic zone.
Small island developing states are the home to 65 million people.
Now, global warming has reached 1°C above the pre-industrial level. The main reason is greenhouse gas emissions.
We now have a vast amount of evidence that this has a stunning effect on ecosystems and people.
That means that the ocean is now warmer, it is more acidic and far less productive.
As glaciers and ice sheets melt, they cause a sea-level rise. That leads to severe coastal extreme events.
The IPCC Report Findings on Sea Levels
The average sea level rises with a double rate, in relation to the average levels of the 20th century.
Σea level has risen globally by around 15 cm. That rise happened during the 20th century. Now, it is currently growing more than twice as fast – 3.6 mm per year – and accelerating.
The reported scenario mentions a rise of 0.6 to 1.1 meters by 2100 and up to 5.4 meters by 2300.
That, along with with the frequency and the intensity of extreme marine phenomena, will multiply the negative impact on coastal zones.
Acidification and rising sea temperatures will have a significant impact on coastal marine ecosystems.
It will affect the geographical distribution and abundance of fish stocks, increasing the existing pressure from the current non-sustainable fishing.
Changing Ocean Ecosystems
Global warming and all the changes happening in the ocean chemistry are disrupting species.
Such happens throughout the ocean food interconnection. That impacts marine ecosystems, as they depend on them.
The excess heat is taken up by 90% from the oceans. However, by 2100, the ocean will have to take up 2-4 times more heat, even if global warming is limited to 2°C.
The ocean warming reduces the mixing that happens between water layers. That affects the supply of oxygen and nutrients for marine life. You understand where this is going.
The Climate Change Intergovernmental Report Findings on the Cryosphere
When it comes to the cryosphere, the report points out the following:
- The mountainous glaciers outside polar regions may lose 80% of their mass by 2100. That has a massive impact on the affected communities and their financial activities that depend on the rivers fed by them
- The permanently frozen areas can lose up to 70% of the surface ice mass, which can lead to positive feedback by releasing additional greenhouse gases
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
The word “cryosphere” – comes from the Greek word “kryos.” It means cold or ice, and describes the frozen components of the Earth system. Such, include snow, glaciers, ice sheets, and ice shelves, icebergs and sea ice, ice on lakes and rivers as well as permafrost and seasonally frozen ground.
Is there a Solution?
The report claims that we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to act to protect and restore ecosystems and manage well our natural resources.
Doing that, it is possible to preserve the ocean and cryosphere as resources for future opportunities on further changes that will come.
To keep global warming under 2°C above pre-industrial levels, we need to change things in our society aspects. Such include energy, land and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure, and the industrial sector is not excluded.