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IPCC: Climate Warming Unequivocal, Human Activity Very Likely (>90% Probability) Causing Most

Ar41
Comparison of observed continental- and global-scale changes in surface temperature (black line) with results simulated by climate models using natural and anthropogenic forcings. Click to enlarge.

Warming of the world’s climate system is “unequivocal”, most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is “very likely” due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations caused by anthropogenic emissions, and continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates will cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate that would “very likely” be larger than those observed during the 20th century, according to the just-released Summary of the first volume of “Climate Change 2007”—also known as the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)—by Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Very likely,” as used in the Summary, indicates a greater than 90% probability, using expert judgement, of an outcome or a result. This assessment reflects a greater confidence in the role of anthropogenic emissions than in the prior report in 2001, when their role was deemed “likely”—greater than 66% probability.

Ar42
Global-average radiative forcing (RF) estimates and ranges in 2005 for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and other important agents and mechanisms, together with the typical geographical extent (spatial scale) of the forcing and the assessed level of scientific understanding (LOSU). Click to enlarge.

The entire Climate Change 2007 report will comprise three main volumes resulting from the efforts of three working groups:

  • Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis (Release 2 February 2007)
  • Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Acceptance and approval 2-5 April 2007)
  • Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change (Acceptance and approval 30 April - 3 May 2007)
  • A short 30-page synthesis report

Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis assesses the current scientific knowledge of the natural and human drivers of climate change, observed changes in climate, the ability of science to attribute changes to different causes, and projections for future climate change. The document released today is a summary of that work.

The report was produced by some 600 authors from 40 countries. More than 620 expert reviewers and a large number of government reviewers also participated. Approximately 300 delegates from 113 countries reviewed and revised the Summary line-by-line during the course of this past week before adopting it and accepting the underlying report. Acceptance is through consensus; the implications is that whatever is accepted and approved has the acceptance of all the participating governments.

While you may probably feel that there is no direct connection between the physical science related to climate change and mitigation options which require actions, let’s say, in reducing or improving the efficiency of fossil fuel use, there is a direct connection because if you see the extent to which human activities are influencing the climate system, then the options for mitigation of the emissions of greenhouse gases appear in a totally different light...you are able to see then what the costs of inaction are.

—Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, Chairman, IPCC
Ar43
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide over the last 10,000 years (large panels) and since 1750 (inset panels). Measurements are shown from ice cores (symbols with different colours for different studies) and atmospheric samples (red lines). The corresponding radiative forcings are shown on the right hand axes of the large panels. Click to enlarge.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years. The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture.

  • There is a very high confidence that the globally averaged net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m-2.

  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level.

  • At continental, regional, and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones. Some aspects of climate have not been observed to change.

  • Paleoclimate information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years. The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 meters of sea level rise.

  • Ar44
    Projected warming for different scenarios, shown as continuations of the 20th century simulations. Shading denotes the plus/minus one standard deviation range of individual model annual means. The gray bars at right indicate the best estimate (solid line within each bar) and the likely range assessed for the six SRES marker scenarios. Click to enlarge.
    Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns

  • Analysis of climate models together with constraints from observations enables an assessed likely range to be given for climate sensitivity for the first time and provides increased confidence in the understanding of the climate system response to radiative forcing.

  • For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.

  • Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century. Best estimates for the temperature increase by 2100 in the different scenarios range from 1.8°C to 4.0°C, within broader ranges.

  • There is now higher confidence in projected patterns of warming and other regional-scale features, including changes in wind patterns, precipitation, and some aspects of extremes and of ice.

  • Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized.

Resources:

Comments

wintermane

Actauly what the givernment knew was fairly simple. Back a good ways a guy who was in fact not a climateologist in fact discovered how the climate of north and south america rythimcly change over hundreds of years. The givernment listened and checked and sure enough its FACT.

So back a good ways the givernment made plans for climate change. Worldwide change.

Along the way they started checking what exactly FACTUALY canges local and regional climates.

Slow work but very factual solid work.

The result was a bunch of prodent projects started to create the tools needed to handle a changed and changing climate.

Out of ths work it became solid fact that if enough local changes occured in enough places the solid fact would be a world wide change.

What they didnt know was the exact role of co2 ghg of other types and many feedback loops in the natural systems. All they knew was what could be proven.

That was that food would be scarce due to local climate changes.

They knew for a fact as cities grew heatwaves in cities due to heat island effect and local climate changes would escalate.

They knew for a fact there would be war.

And they knew for a fact they would NOT know even 10% of what was comming.

That is what we KNEW for a fact in the 80s.

Now they know alot more about co2 and other ghg and alot more about the ocean and permafrost and what was lirking under it and whats lurking in the deapths of the ocean.

But they also know as fact that they dont know most of whats going on.

So do they realy expct to win? No hey expect to survive.

So yes china and india and the us and others will now start trying to curb some ghg and do some other things.. Bu they wont let the econ stumble because in the end the ecn is what will pay to keep us alive when we fail. Not if WHEN.

Weare no better then cavemen trying to turn off a car by hitting it with rocks. Might as well trey it but dont bet on it.

Roger Pham

Wintermane,
I agree with most of what you're saying, but the major GHG producers are wrong in their assessment that curbing GHG release will damage their economy.

Economic theory 101: without increasing market demand, an economy will become stagnant, incapable of previous growth. Certainly, wars can stimulate economic production, but at the expense of human lives. FDR's New DEAl program also stimulated economic growth by expanding huge public work programs that lead the US out of the Great Depression. Using that same logic, there can be no greater economic stimulus than developing and deploying GREEN ENERGY technologies in large scale globally. Tens of millions of jobs will be created in the ramp up of GREEN energy machinery and the continual maintenance of these GREEN machinery will maintain a great number of these jobs. We have an excess of manpower globally for the task. The more expensive the new GREEN energy will be, the more jobs will be created, since most expenses will go toward payroll. Now, we need a little bit of cooperation from the Governments to make fossil energy more expensive via any politically palatable means...for the greater good of mankind!

Why should we as the entire human race be lazy and sits on our fat butts watching TV, burning up polluting and non-sustainable fossil fuel while many of us collecting unemployments or welfare checks...while we could be working a little bit harder to start building GREEN ENERGY infrastructures?

wintermane

I could explain exactly why the us economy would have tanked at the time if the us had signed kyoto but that wouldbe very boring and long winded.

Suffice to say trillions in pensions and a whole lota jobs were on the line.

Most of those pensioners are now DEAD. And alot of those jobs have slowlyshifted out of the us. Its safer now to do something and its cheaper too.

Also if yhe us had signed kyoto lets face reality folks we would be in deep doo doo right now.

1 The tropics would be 1 fuel farm.

2 Nuke plants as far as the eye can see.

3 Seeing that the us with its deep pockets was "SAVING THE WORLD" who else would have realy paniced enough to have dug deep and spent? And we all know how effiecent the us congress is with money.. In short 1/1000th the work would have gotten done and 99% of it would have been about stupid things.

4 Without the us pissing people off and freaking soo many out by ignoring global warming ... what would things be like now?

5 Would you realy want the us congress leading the fight against global warming?

6 George Bush the savior of mankind... just let that image sink in deep and let it soak in... Do you realy want to ever know what that would would have been like?

Alan

...and still not a word about the most important greenhouse gas of all. Seems the whole "Scientific" community is in collective denial. Anyone out there want to guess what this mystery gas is?

Neil

Alan:
are you by chance referring to:

by total effect - water vapour. (in all of the papers I've read the Climatologists were aware of it)
or
anthropogenic - methane and CO2 etc...

cidi

Alan: what would happen to temperature if you could instantaneously double the concentration of your mystery gas? What would happen if you could instantaneously remove it from the atmosphere? What would you have to do to increase its concentration?

Your mystery gas is the primary GHG in all the climate models, but it's a feedback term that amplifies what other GHGs do, it's not a forcing.

(answers: nothing; nothing; find another way to increase temperature, like adding CO2 or methane)

Roger Pham

Wintermane,
Do you know how much more energy-secured we would be now if >1/2 trillion dollars were used to develop more solar thermal projects, more solar PV's in rooftops, more wind turbines, gasifiers for coal and biomass and including CTL and BTL facilities in every city... The same money that was spent as tax breaks and gifts to Big Oil and to finance the war in Iraq, the money that went to no-bidding no-accountability war contracts? We have >3000 military deads and countless civilian contractors dead, 1/2 million Iraqi deaths, millions with broken homes, orphans....the whole country of Iraq in constant fear...and you still call GWB a savior?

That 1/2 trillion dollars investment in GREEN energy and energy security would have created a lot more new decent manufacturing jobs here at home to bolster our domestic manufacturing base, and reduce the hundreds of billions spent to import oil every year, the money that helped finance terrorists...without sacrificing our soldiers in the quagmire of Middle East amidst the civil war that we have no business involved in...our soldiers are merely targets for the terrorists while accomplishing what by being there?

No, Al Gore would have been our potential savior, but too bad, the opportunity may not come again.

Andrey

Solar wind, Alan.

wintermane

Actauly iraq as a war that had to happen right then. If it had waited more then a year or two later it couldnt have been done and well due to congress and reporters outing informants left and right.... lack of info has started more wars thenany other factor save the general stupidity of man.

As for global warming... do you realy think we will manage to handle it before ww3?

My bet is at least when ww3 happens if we are lucky the nuke wonter will stave off global warming for a centiry or so.

Alan

Solar wind, Alan.

I stand corrected. You are the man. Water vapor is the earth bound champion GHG. Many orders of magnitude larger than all the anthropogenic sources. Grant seeking climatologist have dismissed this fact by inventing the "forcing" argument. Statistical scrutiny of Forcing puts it in the same league as 10 day weather forecasting (slightly better than 50% 2 sigma). You need look no further than chaos theory for perspective on this whole debate. A small change to any variable in our enormously complex system, over a given time period, can perturb the "equilibrium" and drive the system to completely different states (global cooling or global warming). James Gleick does a fine job explaining this in his book Chaos: Making a New Science, Viking Penguin. (ISBN 0140092501). Of course, we, people burning carbonaceous fuel, could be a cause, certainly a variable. Perhaps the geologic record of extreme climatic events is also a record of previous intelligent cultures doing themselves in. I for one have made a profit from playing both sides of the debate. The real story is the politics and the money, dooms day prophets have been coming and going since our political conscience first awoke, and they will continue. For me, I'll ride the wave, be it figurative or from the cataclysmic ocean rise. There is an ~50% chance that it's coming with or without us. Adapt :-)

Roger Pham

Alan,
Does the evidence support your idea regarding water vapor as a potent GHG "many orders of magnitude larger than the anthropogenic source?" Desert area has very low humidity content, yet gets very hot during the day and colder at night, whereas humid coastal areas of the same latitude have much more constant temperature...but, if you take the average temperature of both regions, can you say that desert has much lower average temp. because of abscence of this potent GHG "by many orders of magnitude?"

NO. The reason for this is because of clouds. More water vapor in the atmosphere will form more clouds at altitude which will blocks out the sun rays by a larger percentage...Whereas CO2 will never form clouds that can block out the sun's ray, not here on earth. May be in Jupiter or Saturn's moons...

The darn truth about global warming is very simple: Human cause CO2 level to rise at a rate much much faster than any time in geologic history...and as a direct correlation, the earth warms up at a rate much much faster than any geologic time recorded in fossil or ice core studies...a direct correlation that is supported by complex super-computer models that compute much faster than any scientists can disprove otherwise. We are talking about teraflops supercomputers that are getting faster and faster...so far, there nothing that can disprove the correlation of the rate of human-generated CO2 and the rate of global warming!

Andrey

Roger:

Little correction:

Human contribution to CO2 rise is not big (10-30% according to different sources), current CO2 levels or their rate of rise is nothing unusual in Earth history, and current temperatures and their rate of rise are nothing unusual in Earth history too. CO2 concentrations do not have direct correlation with global temperature: Earth heated up substantially from middle of 19 century to the peak at about 1940 – with very modest increase in CO2 concentrations (if any between 19 and first quarter of 20 century), then cooled to the min in 1970 – exactly at period when anthropogenic CO2 emissions began really to pick-up, then heated up again, and currently is hesitated for last couple of years, while anthropogenic CO2 emissions continue to increase. It is very clear, if one superimpose two real graphs (but do not try to do it with Mann hockey stick and Siple Curve) – CO2 concentration and global temperatures on one scale, that CO2 could not be major force behind current warming trend. Minor role and secondary additional forcing – most probably. All of the information is readily available if you will take a time to dig deeper than “summaries for policymaking” or newspaper headlines.

Computer models are as good as physical models they are based on. And current level of observation and geophysical science not nearly close to supply clear picture, for example clouds mechanics and air convections are really blind spots.

Any way, what Alan is referring to is even more grim for computer modeling. James Gleik theory proves (with mind bogging mathematics) that some complicated processes, such as weather and climate, in principle could not be predicted with somehow useful results over specific period of time. For weather predictions estimated theoretical limit is about 10 days. No matter how detailed is initial information, sophisticated physical model, or powerful computer – prediction deteriorates in time due to stochastic nature of the process itself, not because of deficiency of the model or the data.

BTW, Alan, do you have link to last article of Khabibullo Abdusamatov (original one)?

wintermane

As far as co2 goes its only one ghg but its worrysome not so much because of its total impact to date but for the concern that many of its absorbers may in fact ave reached peak absorbtion and may indeed be offhassing co2 instead of absorbing it now.

Water vaopr is a worry because of farming and the effect of water vapor haze on trapping heat in without reflecting sunlight out to space. Dont forget one of the large components of car exaust is water vapor. In fact burning biofuels uses more hydrogen and produces more water exaust then if every person on the earh had a fleet of h2 powered hummers running 24/7.

Hes remember folks there is more hydrogen in your fuel tank now then in a n entire h2 refuling station.


And then there is methane and the fact that gigatons og methane are about to offgas from permafrost world wide...

Its nearly haranteed that while trying to curb global warming we will in fact do no such thing and likely will help it along. That was always the likelist outcome. Iys why the planners plan for the worst.

Alan

Thanks for the reinforcing arguments Andey. I am not familiar with Khabibullo Abdusamatov other than the little I've read googling. Roger, my personal experience is with FTIR and UV/Vis spectroscopy. To retrieve meaningful IR spectra from samples in the lab, we have to carefully remove all traces of water. Reason being, water is one the more potent IR absorbing substances. Orders of magnitude greater than CO2, or methane. Also, here is a reference you implicitly requested regarding evidence.

http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

matthew

So...Exxon funds scientists to say one thing. The government funds scientists to say another.

Who is less corrupt?

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