Recent extreme weather occurrences around the world emphasize the need for greater research on how it will play out, especially locally, as experts assemble online to conclude a long-awaited report on global climate research.
In the previous two weeks, the list of extremes has been startling: Unprecedented rainfall in Central China and Europe were followed by devastating flooding.
Global warming was predicted, but now you can see it," said Corinne Le Quere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia.
Such extremes had been expected by scientists for a long time. However, many people are startled that so many things are happening so quickly – especially because the global environment is now 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than it was before the Industrial Revolution.
The Paris Climate Agreement calls for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"It's not so much that climate change is happening faster than expected," said climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University. "The warming is right in line with model predictions from decades ago." "Rather, some of the repercussions are higher than scientists projected," says the author.
This indicates that climate models may have underestimated "the potential for a major increase in persistent weather extremes," according to Mann.
The first installment of the IPCC's sixth Assessment Report, which will update the established science around greenhouse gas emissions and projections for future warming and its impacts, will be completed in the next two weeks by top scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The virtual two-week summit also includes government representatives.
The report will build on the latest IPCC report, which was released in 2013, by focusing more on extreme weather and regional effects.
"As I speak, extreme weather is clearly the new normal. Wildfires, floods, and catastrophic heat waves have swept the globe, from Germany to China to Canada and the United States. It's an ever-growing list of unfortunate events "During the event's opening ceremony on Monday, Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, remarked.
"2021 must bring about a new period of action, and it must be the year in which science triumphs," she stated.
The report, which will be released on Aug. 9, will most likely act as a guide for governments in developing policies related to the environment, greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure, and public services. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the report's release was postponed for several months.
While climate modeling has advanced to the point where scientists have high confidence in their estimates, there are still unknowns about how climate change will manifest, particularly at the local level. It's possible that answering these questions will take many more years.
Scientists from the World Weather Attribution network assessed that the June heat wave that killed hundreds in Canada would have been "almost impossible" without human-caused climate change.
However, those temperatures, which were up to 4.6 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record in certain spots, could possibly be the consequence of new air shifts that climate models have yet to account for.
"This does look like an unusual event in the climate models," study co-author Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford, said. "Climate models do mimic such unusual instances and do not indicate that something else is going on, but it could just mean that the models are incorrect. This is something that both we and the scientific community should investigate."
weather patterns are driven by the jet streams, which are fast-moving air currents that circle the globe near the poles and the tropics. Temperature changes are what keeps them going. Climate change may be slowing parts of the northern polar jet stream, according to certain research, notably during the summer.
As observed in Canada in June, this can generate heat waves by trapping heat under high-pressure air, or it can stall storms for longer in one location, potentially producing flooding.
Extreme occurrences are infrequent by definition, so there is less data, which is a major study problem.
According to Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology, there is "tantalizing evidence" that global warming has introduced new, unexpected factors that have amplified climate change impacts even further than previously understood. However, more research is needed.
He remarked, "From my standpoint, the jury is still out on that." "The policy prescription is the same regardless of the answer. We must transition away from CO2 emissions as soon as possible."
However, countries must recognize that extreme occurrences will continue to occur, even if the world's emissions can be reduced swiftly, according to scientists.
"Almost no strategy for adjusting to a changing environment exists," stated Le Quere. "Governments are ill-equipped."