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|June 2007||Downloads & Links|
Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has finalized its Fourth Assessment report—Climate Change 2007— that assesses the current and future impacts of global warming and explores opportunities for proactively adapting to them (see also the April edition of MeteoWorld).
The report concludes that the world’s rivers, lakes, wildlife, glaciers, permafrost, coastal zones, disease carriers and many other elements of the natural and physical environment are already responding to the effects of humanity’s greenhouse-gas emissions.
Rising temperatures are accelerating the hydrological cycle, causing rivers and lakes to freeze later in the autumn and birds to migrate and nest earlier in the spring.
Scientists are increasingly confident that, as global warming continues, certain weather events and extremes will become more frequent, widespread or intense.
Dramatic sea-level rise and some other events have the potential to cause very large impacts, especially after the 21st century.
Over the coming decades, the Arctic, sub-Saharan Africa, small islands, low-lying coasts, natural ecosystems,
water resources and agricultural production in certain regions will be at particular risk from climate change.
However, the IPCC also finds that early action to improve seasonal climate forecasts, food security, freshwater supplies, disaster and emergency response, famine early-warning systems and insurance coverage can minimize the damage from future climate change, while generating many immediate practical benefits.
Scientists owe much of their new understanding of how climate change will affect the planet to the greater number of field studies and data sets now available to them, as well as to improved consistency between observations and climate model results.
In order to extend and improve research and monitoring even further and gain more practical experience, it is necessary to adapt to the changing climate,.
The report emphasizes that adaptation—in developed but especially vulnerable developing countries— is also needed to cope with the changes already underway. “Climate proofing” infrastructure and agriculture to health care services and communities will require investment but equally intelligent planning so that it is central to decision-making rather than on the periphery.
Examples of activities being undertaken to adapt to current climate change include partial drainage of glacial lakes, changes in livelihood strategies in response to permafrost melt and the increased use of artificial snow-making by the ski industry.
Measures being taken in anticipation of future climate change include the consideration of sea-level rise in the design of infrastructure such as bridges and in coastal zone management.
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