Warming oceans, melting glaciers have been 'taking the heat' from climate change for decades: IPCC Report

Experts highlighted that countries will either have to pay the cost of climate-related damages now, or invest in climate adaptation for the future.


The IPCC Special Report on Ocean and the Cryosphere in a Changing Climate commissioned by the United Nations was released today. It offers a comprehensive look at the changes observed in oceans and the Earth's cryosphere (the planet's frozen water reserves).

The report is unique because it collects, for the first time in IPCC history, and at a global level, a comprehensive look at how climate change is affecting the deepest oceans, the highest mountains and remote polar regions. Human-caused climate change is evident here more than anywhere else, as per the report. The IPCC Chair Dr H Lee opened the panel by declaring off the bat what the committee wants to convey to the masses.

IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere by Tech2 on Scribd

"With the first report on 1.5 degrees, the land use report and now on the oceans and cryosphere, we have had a consistent message," Lee said. "We are in a race, between the ability of humans to adapt, and the speech of climate change impacts. This report and the earlier report on land use show that we are losing this race. "

But there are still ways to mitigate most of the harms of climate change on oceans and cryosphere if nations act urgently on recommendations made in the report, according to multiple co-chairs of the IPCC report.

 Warming oceans, melting glaciers have been taking the heat from climate change for decades: IPCC Report

Part of the Larsen-B ice shelf breaking off from East Antarctica. Getty

One of the report's key takeaways are projections for the near-term (2031-2050) and the end of the century (2081-2100), made in contrasting low- and high-emission scenarios.

The report poses two contrasting scenarios: one, in which there is a dramatic reduction in emissions over the next seven decades, and another, in which humankind continues with little/no change to its current rate of human-made emissions.

The oceans and glaciers have been 'taking the heat' from climate change for decades, Dr K Barrett, Vice-Chair of the IPCC, said at the report's launch. "The consequence of these changes for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe."

 

A representation of Paris Accord parties and their climate action policies. Image: Climate Action Tracker

A representation of Paris Accord parties and their climate action policies. Image: Climate Action Tracker

People will be displaced in tens of millions due to rising sea levels over the next 70 years. 65 million people in small island nations, and 680 million people along coastlines and low-lying areas (estimated to increase to 1 billion by the 2070s), and deltas are also affected.

Some 670 million people currently live in and around mountainous regions in the world. These populations are increasingly being exposed to dangers like landslides, avalanches, and floods due to the impact that climate change is having in mountain ecosystems.

(Read: IPCC Oceans and Cryosphere Report: Melting glaciers and natural disasters in Himalayas to become more frequent)

Changes in water availability for survival and energy is also estimated to reduce drastically, with large and small glaciers melting away rapidly and wet-snow instead of snowfall.

By adhering to the plan of capping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, most of these risks will be brought down significantly for people and nature in (coastal and mountainous) ecosystems.

What the first special report by the International Panel on Climate Change warns can be expected from the 0.5C difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees C. Source: IPCC Report

What the first special report by the International Panel on Climate Change warns can be expected from the 0.5C difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees C. Source: IPCC Report

"IPCC does not sit in judgment in the action of world leaders...(we) help in the choosing of pathways to a more sustainable future. It's indicated that this is the right time for the report to enter the discussion of policymaking," the expert panel concluded. They also highlighted that countries will either have to pay the cost of climate-related damages now (manyfold more expensive) or increase investments in renewable technology to support a rapid reduction in emissions.

The Oceans and Cryosphere report come days after back-to-back events around climate change and action, including an international strike on 20 September, the UN Youth Climate Summit on 21 September and the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September.

You can watch the entire presentation of the IPCC report in the video below:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.