Sep 29

Oceans and Ice are Absorbing the Brunt of Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE IS here, heating the oceans and crumbling the planet’s ice sheets, a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lays out.

On Wednesday, the IPCC released a major report on the state of the planet’s oceans and ice. The 900-page report, which compiles the findings from thousands of scientific studies, outlines the damage climate change has already done to the planet’s vast oceans and fragile ice sheets and forecasts the future for these crucial parts of the climate system.

Climate change’s impacts, the report says, are already readily visible from the top of the highest mountain to the very bottom of the ocean—and tangible for every human on the planet.

The problems aren’t theoretical, the report stresses: Science shows that they are here, now. And the oceans, polar ice caps, and high mountain glaciers have already absorbed so much extra heat from human-caused global warming that the very systems human existence depends on are already at stake.

For example, Planpincieux glacier on the Italian side of Mount Blanc is expected to collapse at any time, prompting road closures and evacuations of structures in the area. And in the oceans, many fisheries have shifted and shrunken, impacting million-dollar businesses and subsistence fishers alike. The 27 percent of Earth’s human population that lives near coasts are bearing the brunt of higher seas and stronger stormsMarine “heat waves” sweep across the ocean twice as often as they did only three decades ago. And millions that rely on water from high-mountain glaciers and snowpack, the “water towers” of the world, are adjusting to both newly strengthened floods and devastating droughts.

These challenges are only going to get worse unless countries make lightning-fast moves to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, the report says. But strong, decisive action could still forestall or evade some of the worst impacts.
“The oceans and cryosphere have been taking the heat of climate change for decades,” says Ko Barrett, the vice chair of the IPCC. “The report highlights the urgency of timely, ambitious, coordinated, and enduring actions. What’s at stake is the health of ecosystems, wildlife, and importantly, the world we leave our children.”


Read the original article at the NatGeo website