A new report compiled by the United Nations Environment Fund is warning the pace and scale of climate change is even more rapid than scientists have predicted.
The Climate Change Science Compendium is based on peer reviewed research published since 2006, when the last International Panel on Climate Change Assessment was completed. The next assessment will not be made until 2014. This interim survey of findings has been prepared for the build up to the Copenhagen Conference.
The newly emerging science shows
• some events thought likely to occur in longer-term time horizons are already happening or set to happen far sooner than had previously been thought.
• increasing concerns about ocean acidification linked with the absorption of carbon dioxide in seawater and the impact on shellfish and coral reefs.
• losses from glaciers, ice-sheets and the Polar Regions appear to be happening faster than anticipated, with the Greenland ice sheet melting 60 percent higher than the previous record of 1998.
• some scientists are warning that sea levels could rise by up to two metres by 2100 and five to ten times that over following centuries.
• losses of tropical and temperate mountain glaciers that are affecting 20 to 25 percent of the human population in terms of drinking water, irrigation and hydro-power.
Scientists still believe the most catastrophic impacts of climate change can be avoided but only if there is immediate, cohesive and decisive action to both cut emissions and assist vulnerable countries adapt.
In a foreword to the document, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who this week hosted, heads of state in New York, writes, “This Climate Change Science Compendium is a wake-up call. The time for hesitation is over”. “We need the world to realize, once and for all, that the time to act is now and we must work together to address this monumental challenge. This is the moral challenge of our generation.”
Download the full report from the UNEP website
28 September 2009