What are the findings of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate?

Published: September 26, 2019

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate has been published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was the last in a series of three reports on specific themes that IPCC has published last year.

Findings of the Report

  • The frequency of extreme El Nino and La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean is likely to increase in the coming years. This could possibly result in more intense wet or dry periods in India.
  • The global mean sea level has increased by 16 cm between 1902 and 2015. The rate of increase has doubled of late. Between 2006 and 2015, global mean sea level has recorded an average rise of 3.6 mm per year. This was more than double of 1.4 mm per year recorded in the first 90-year-period of the 20th century.
  • The melting of glaciers has significantly contributed to the rise in sea-levels. Between 2006 and 2015, the Greenland ice sheet lost ice-mass at an average rate of 278 billion tonnes every year. This was enough to result in a global sea-level rise of 0.8 mm per year.
  • During the same period between 2006 and 2015, the Antarctic ice sheet lost a mass of 155 billion tonnes on an average every year.
  • Snow outside of these two regions of Greenland and Antartica, like the glaciers in the Himalayas along with the two, have lost an average of 220 billion tonnes of ice every year.
  • The contribution of ice sheet along with glaciers contributions was the dominant source of sea-level rise over the year 2006-2015. This also exceeded the effect of thermal expansion of ocean water (due to rising temperatures).
  • Sea-level rise was not globally uniform and varies regionally. Regional was result of land ice loss and variations in ocean warming and circulation,
  • The shrinking cryosphere in the Arctic and high-mountain areas has led to predominantly negative impacts on food security, water resources, water quality, livelihoods, health and well-being, infrastructure, transportation, tourism and recreation, as well as the culture of human societies, particularly for Indigenous peoples.

IPCC had published two earlier reports on the feasibility of restricting the global rise in temperatures to within 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times followed by a report on land and climate change which were focused on specific themes.

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