IPCC Climate Change 2021 Report: Human activities are making extreme weather events more frequent, severe

Climate Change 2021 Report: Current CO2 concentrations are the highest they have been in at least 2 million years, Arctic sea ice area is at the lowest level since at least 1000 years. Since 1950s, hot extremes including heatwaves over land and marine heatwave have become more frequent and severe.

Created On: Aug 9, 2021 15:57 IST
IPCC Climate Change Report 2021, Source: IPCC Press Conference
IPCC Climate Change Report 2021, Source: IPCC Press Conference

IPCC Climate Change 2021 Report: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark climate change 2021 report on August 9, 2021. The report was released in a virtual event ahead of the COP26 climate summit in November 2021. 

The climate change 2021 report is the world's largest report on climate change. The study analysed over 14,000 scientific papers and involved more than 234 researchers from over 65 countries.

Key takeaways from Climate Change 2021 Report

1. It is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change and making extreme weather events more frequent and severe.

2. Climate change is affecting every region on the planet.

3. Strong, rapid and sustainable reduction in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions will be required to limit global warming.

UN Secretary General António Guterres tweeted saying, "The evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions are choking our planet & placing billions of people in danger. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible. We must act decisively now to avert a climate catastrophe."

Read: List of extreme weather events in world in 2021

Climate Change 2021 Report: In Detail

The Climate Change 2021 report states that the rapid climate changes that we see today are widespread, intensifying and unprecedented in thousands of years or never seen before. 

1. Human influence on Climate Change 

•The climate change report states that it is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change, warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. 

•Almost all observed warming from the late 1800s is human-caused, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. 

•The report noted that human influence has warmed the climate at an unprecedented rate in the last 2000 years. 

•To measure how the climate is changed, the scientists looked at a key indicator- the average temperature of the earth's surface over a period of at least a decade compared to the average temperature in the late 1800s.

•The average surface temperature was 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer in the last 10 years. 

•Each of the last ten decades have been the warmest since the late 1800s. 

•The report, however, states that temperature has not been the only aspect that has been altered. The levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere also continued to increase fast.

2. Current Climate Assessment  

•Current CO2 concentrations are the highest they have been in at least 2 million years. 

•Over the past 100 years, the sea level has risen at a faster rate than it ever did in at least 3000 years. 

•The Arctic sea ice area is at the lowest level since at least 1000 years.

•The retreat of glaciers on a global scale since 1950 is unprecedented in at least 2000 years. l

The warming we have already experienced has far-reaching consequences:

a) Climate change is contributing to an increase in extreme heat, heavy precipitation events and drought. 

b) Since the 1950s, hot extremes including heatwaves over land and marine heatwave have become more frequent and more intense.

c) Heavy precipitation events have become more frequent and more intense.

d) There is also an increase in drought in some regions. 

The report revealed that these consequences to the heat, rainfall and drought impact our whole planet, not just people but also plants and animals. 

e) Fire weather, the combination of dry and hot conditions that produce wildfire, is becoming more frequent in many parts of the world. 

f) A notable change is also taking place in the oceans, which is warming, acidifying and losing oxygen affecting ocean life and livelihoods dependent on it. 

3. Future Climate Projections

•The Climate Change 2021 report shows that there will be further warming in the coming decade

•Unless there are immediate, strong and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the limiting of warming to 1.5 degree Celcius will be beyond reach. 

•The report further shows that in the next 20 years, global warming- the average surface temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees Celcius. 

What can we do to stop global warming?

•If we rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, if we can reach global net-zero CO2 emissions around 2050, it is extremely likely that we can keep global warming well below 2 degree Celcius. 

•The report states that if we do this, it is more likely that temperature will gradually decline to below or around 1.5 degree Celcius by the end of the century with a temporary overshoot of no more than 0.1 degree Celcius.

•But if global greenhouse gas emissions remain around today's levels in the coming decades, we would reach 2 degrees of global warming by the middle of this century. 

•With every additional amount of global warming, we will see greater changes in the climate. 

•The report warns that every additional half degree of warming will cause increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes, heavy precipitation and drought. 

What will happen at 2 degrees of global warming?

•Heat extremes would more often reach critical and turbulent thresholds for agriculture and human health. 

•Extreme daily rainfall events at a global scale will intensify by about 7 percent for each additional 1 degree Celcius of global warming.

 

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