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In 1991 there appeared an article  by a well-known scientist entitled ‘Does climate still matter?’ with the summary stating, ‘We may be discovering climate as it becomes less important to well being. A range of technologies appears to have lessened the vulnerability of human societies to climate variation.’ In 2007 more than a thousand contributors congregated in various places to draft the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (henceforth IPCC-AR4) under three headings (Table 6.1). As Working Group II concluded , ‘Some large-scale events have the potential to cause very large impacts, especially after the 21st century’. Part of the difference is that the 1991 article was written from a developed country perspective, while it is now clear that climate change will strike the less-developed countries the hardest. But, in addition, we have begun to realize that many aspects of global warming will become irreversible if no action is taken to limit CO2 emissions during the first half of the present century. Perhaps the clearest example is the risk that an irreversible melting of the ice caps on Greenland and on west Antarctica would be initiated which could raise sea level ultimately by 13 meters, flooding large heavily populated areas. It is doubtful that any foreseeable technological fixes would be able to mitigate such a development.
KeywordsClimate Future Geophysical Research Letter Third Assessment Report Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report Sahara Region
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6.8 Notes and references
- IPCC: AR4-WGII, SPM, p. 17.Google Scholar
- IPCC: AR4-WGI, SPM.Google Scholar
- IPCC: Third Assessment Report (TAR), WGI.Google Scholar
- IPCC: Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES).Google Scholar
- Winton, M., 2006, ‘Amplified Arctic climate change: What does surface albedo feedback have to do with it?’, Geophysical Research Letters 33, L03701, 1–4.Google Scholar
- Precipitation projections from Giorgi, F. and Bi, X. 2005, ‘Updated regional precipitations and temperature changes for the 21st century from ensembles of recent AOGCM simulations’, Geophysical Research Letters 32, L21715, 1–4. These are for the period 2070–2099 with respect to 1960–1979 under the A1B scenario. Temperature projections are from Giorgi, F., 2006, ‘Climate change hot-spots’, Geophysical Research Letters 33, L08707, 1–4, for the period 2080–2099 with respect to 1960–1979 as an average for the scenarios A1B, A2 and B1. The factors relative to global warming should not be too sensitive to the particular scenario and all these values for temperature and precipitation should differ from those for 2100 with respect to 2000 under the A1B scenario by much less than their still large uncertainty.Google Scholar
- IPCC-AR4-WGI, SPM, p. 7.Google Scholar
- Thomas, R. et al., 2006, ‘Progressive increase in ice loss from Greenland’, Geophysical Research Letters 33, L10503.Google Scholar
- Stearns, L.A. and Hamilton, G.S., 2007, ‘Rapid volume loss from two East Greenland outlet glaciers quantified using repeat stereo satellite imagery’, Geophysical Research Letters 34, L05503.Google Scholar
- Horwath, M. and Dietrich, R., 2006, ‘Errors of regional mass variations inferred from GRACE monthly solutions’, Geophysical Research Letters 33, L07502.Google Scholar
© Praxis Publishing Ltd. 2008