Friday, February 02, 2007

IPCC: The Physical Basis of Climate Change

The IPCC Working Group I - Fourth Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers (SPM) is now approved and available for download here. The contribution describes progress in understanding of the human and natural drivers of climate change, observed climate change, climate processes and attribution, and estimates of projected future climate change. Read the British Antarctic Survey's (BAS) response here.

Via Gristmill: The hot story around this release is the conservative edge to the final product, which does not fully account for the melting of the Greenland and/or Antarctic ice sheets. The report is consensus-based, and as such carefully written and meticulously reviewed. The process is heavily bureaucratic, a maze of international political and scientific red tape, which is both its strength and weakness. While its level of international cooperation attests to its conclusions, scientists have struggled with how to model variables like melting ice sheets. Taking into consideration the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet is likely to move measurements of the sea level rise from inches to feet or meters within this century. Uncertainties in the science need to be addressed with more research, certainly not the proposed cutback in funding for climate studies. That means public awareness needs to be raised about two things: the missing pieces, and future IPCC reports that include models of disintegrating ice sheets.

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