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International Panel on Climate Change Issues New Findings

October 2, 2013

On September 27, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis and an accompanying summary for policymakers. The assessment report points out that the "warming of the climate system in unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen and the concentration of greenhouse gasses have increased."

Based on scientific evidence, the report comes to these factual conclusions:

  • There is high confidence that, over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent.
  • The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia. From 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 meters (.17 to 0.21).
  • In terms of the atmosphere, the report states with medium confidence that "each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983-2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years."

A draft of the 2,216-page full report, as well as a 36-page summary for policymakers, can be found online at IPCC and Climate Change 2013. The former, which is currently under review by several working groups, includes a technical summary, 14 chapters, and an atlas of global and regional climate projections. Following copyediting, layout, and final checks for errors, the full report will be published online in January 2014 and in book form by Cambridge University Press a few months later.

Established in 1988, IPCC is a scientific group based in Geneva, Switzerland, that comprises scientists and researchers from more than 120 countries. 

Source: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, International Panel on Climate Change

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