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Experts respond to the IPCC's 5th report on climate change

Experts from Australia, New Zealand and the UK respond to the IPCC's report “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis”.

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"There are human and natural factors acting in the climate system, and understanding all the factors influencing our climate is an ongoing scientific goal. But the current increase in CO2 and its effects on our planet are attributed to human activity because they have a pattern, in space and in time, which is what we expect from increased greenhouse gases, and which cannot be explained by other forces, such as changes in solar output or volcanic ash.

This IPCC report strengthens the building evidence for the human impact on the climate system. In particular it documents multiple lines of evidence for emerging changes in climate in the atmosphere, ocean, ice, and land.

My own work has focused on ocean acidification, also discussed in AR5. Ocean acidification is a pervasive and persistent effect on the ocean, whose biological impacts have only begun to be detected in nature in the last few years

The report also documents changes in parts of the climate system –acidification and heat accumulation in the ocean, the major ice sheet melting – with very long response times. This point needs to be understood by policymakers and the community: if we intend to mitigate climate change impacts on these systems we have to start now. The very physics and chemistry of those systems places a premium on early action and a penalty on delay."

Dr Will Howard is...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.