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IPCC report sets a conservative carbon budget

By Will Steffen

The evidence for the continued warming of the planet is overwhelming, according to the IPCC's latest report.

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With the release of its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphatically set the record straight on what the most recent scientific research says about climate change.

Based on a careful assessment and synthesis of the vast body of climate-related research, especially the most recent research over the past seven years, the IPCC report – the full version of which has been released this week – strengthens our knowledge of how and why the climate is changing. It points towards the risks that an increasingly destabilised climate system poses for us.

The evidence for the continued warming of the planet is overwhelming. The world’s oceans, which absorb over 90% of the additional heat trapped by the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, have warmed strongly since 1970 to the present. Although most of that additional heat is found in the upper water layers, there is now evidence of warming in the deep ocean in the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean.

The surface air temperature has also increased since the middle of the last century, at a rate of 0.12C per decade, and has increased by 0.85C since 1901.

The ice cover over the Arctic Ocean is decreasing rapidly, at a rate of about 4% per decade since 1979. Such...

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