Source: Live Science
In a grave assessment of the impact of human-induced climate change on the ocean and cryosphere, the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that “the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions” over the 21st century.
According to the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), only immediate governmental action to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels on a global scale will mitigate the negative impact on ecosystems and human communities.
Among the changes projected by the report:
Global-scale glacier mass loss, permafrost thaw, and decline in snow cover will continue in the near-term (2031–2050). The Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are projected to lose mass at an increasing rate throughout the 21st century and beyond.
Further acidification and oxygen decline, with marine heatwaves and extreme El Nino and La Nina events projected to become more frequent.
Sea level will continue to rise at an increasing rate. Historically rare extreme sea level events are projected to occur more frequently.
A decrease in global biomass of marine animal communities, their production, and fisheries catch potential, and a shift in species composition are projected over the 21st century in ocean ecosystems from the surface to the deep seafloor.
A compilation of data from nearly 7,000 scientific studies, the report represents the work of more than 100 researchers from 36 countries. As such, it’s the latest evidence of climate change that is already well underway.
The numbers make shocking reading: By 2100, seas could have risen by more than 3 feet, displacing hundreds of millions of people. Glaciers could be reduced by up to 36%, with snow cover dropping by about 25% by 2100. And approximately 90% of coral reefs in warm waters worldwide could be lost.
The report emphasizes that the average global temperatures have already reached 1°C (1.8°F) above preindustrial levels. While the previously proposed target of 1.5°C (2.7°F) will avoid the worst-case scenarios, that goal is looking increasingly unlikely.
According to Debra Roberts, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group II: “We will only be able to keep global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels if we effect unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, including energy, land and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure as well as industry. The more decisively and the earlier we act, the more able we will be to address unavoidable changes, manage risks, improve our lives and achieve sustainability for ecosystems and people around the world—today and in the future.”
Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) trailer
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