Proof of climate change 'unequivocal'
On thin ice
Human activity likely cause of climate changes
Human activities have caused most of the observed changes in the past 50 years.
'These new findings from the IPCC are alarming. The recent observations and measurements reflected in the report dispel any doubts that the global climate is changing and that human activities have caused most of the observed changes in the past 50 years. International action is needed to address climate change by both enhanced mitigation and adaptation efforts,' says Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.
The report assesses the latest scientific knowledge on climate change and constitutes the first part of the IPCC's forthcoming Fourth Assessment Report. It confirms the main findings of the Third Assessment Report from 2001, but many results can now be better quantified and there is even higher confidence in them.
The report’s key conclusions are:
- Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising sea level.
- It is 'very likely' that increases in man-made greenhouse gas emissions have caused most of the rise in globally averaged temperatures since the middle of the 20th century. It is 'extremely unlikely' that this warming was due to natural climate variability alone.
- During the last 100 years the Earth has warmed by 0.76 °C on average, and the rate of warming has further increased. The 11 warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 12 years. The second half of the 20th century was the warmest period in the northern hemisphere for at least 1 300 years. Europe has warmed by about 1 °C over the past 100 years, faster than the global average.
- The best estimates for projected global warming this century of a further rise in the global average temperature range from 1.8 to 4.0 °C by 2100 for different scenarios which do not assume that more action is taken to limit emissions. The full uncertainty range for the projected temperature increase this century is 1.1–6.4 °C.
- Rates of observed sea level rise almost doubled from 18 centimetres per century in 1961–2003 to 31 cm per century in 1993–2003.
- The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has continued to increase due to man-made emissions, and the rate of increase has further accelerated. Current concentrations of CO2 and methane are the highest for at least 650 000 years.
- Extreme weather events have increased and regional climate patterns are changing. Heat waves and other weather extremes, as well as changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, storm tracks and precipitation, can now be traced back to climate change caused by human activities.
- Scientists have improved their ability to predict future climate change. Confidence in regional climate change projections has increased due to better models and more
powerful computers. The temperature over land and at high northern latitudes will be higher than the global average. In the Arctic it could be on average 6 °C – and
possibly as much as 8 °C — warmer by the end of this century than at the end of the 20th.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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