Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth's atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world's nations, it is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and patterns of rainfall will change. But the future is also partly uncertain -- there is considerable uncertainty about how we will arrive at that different climate. Will the changes be gradual, allowing natural systems and societal infrastructure to adjust in a timely fashion? Or will some of the changes be more abrupt, crossing some threshold or "tipping point" to change so fast that the time between when a problem is recognized and when action is required shrinks to the point where orderly adaptation is not possible? Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change is an updated look at the issue of abrupt climate change and its potential impacts. This study differs from previous treatments of abrupt changes by focusing on abrupt climate changes and also abrupt climate impacts that have the potential to severely affect the physical climate system, natural systems, or human systems, often affecting multiple interconnected areas of concern. The primary timescale of concern is years to decades. A key characteristic of these changes is that they can come faster than expected, planned, or budgeted for, forcing more reactive, rather than proactive, modes of behavior. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change summarizes the state of our knowledge about potential abrupt changes and abrupt climate impacts and categorizes changes that are already occurring, have a high probability of occurrence, or are unlikely to occur. Because of the substantial risks to society and nature posed by abrupt changes, this report recommends the development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System that would allow for the prediction and possible mitigation of such changes before their societal impacts are severe. Identifying key vulnerabilities can help guide efforts to increase resiliency and avoid large damages from abrupt change in the climate system, or in abrupt impacts of gradual changes in the climate system, and facilitate more informed decisions on the proper balance between mitigation and adaptation. Although there is still much to learn about abrupt climate change and abrupt climate impacts, to willfully ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering, and environmental degradation. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change makes the case that the time is here to be serious about the threat of tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.
The climate record for the past 100,000 years clearly indicates that the climate system has undergone periodic--and often extreme--shifts, sometimes in as little as a decade or less. The causes of abrupt climate changes have not been clearly established, but the triggering of events is likely to be the result of multiple natural processes. Abrupt climate changes of the magnitude seen in the past would have far-reaching implications for human society and ecosystems, including major impacts on energy consumption and water supply demands. Could such a change happen again? Are human activities exacerbating the likelihood of abrupt climate change? What are the potential societal consequences of such a change? Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises looks at the current scientific evidence and theoretical understanding to describe what is currently known about abrupt climate change, including patterns and magnitudes, mechanisms, and probability of occurrence. It identifies critical knowledge gaps concerning the potential for future abrupt changes, including those aspects of change most important to society and economies, and outlines a research strategy to close those gaps. Based on the best and most current research available, this book surveys the history of climate change and makes a series of specific recommendations for the future.
Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Geophysical Monograph Series, Volume 193. Abrupt Climate Change: Mechanisms, Patterns, and Impacts brings together a diverse group of paleoproxy records such as ice cores, marine sediments, terrestrial (lakes and speleothems) archives, and coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models to document recent advances in understanding the mechanisms of abrupt climate changes. Since the discovery of the Dansgaard-Oeschger events in Greenland ice cores and the subsequent discovery of their contemporary events in the marine sediments of the North Atlantic, the search for these abrupt, millennial-scale events across the globe has intensified, and as a result, the number of paleoclimatic records chronicling such events has increased. The volume highlights include discussions of records of past climate variability, meridional overturning circulation, land-ocean-atmosphere interactions, feedbacks in the climate system, and global temperature anomalies. Abrupt Climate Change will be of interest to students, researchers, academics, and policy makers who are concerned about abrupt climate change and its potential impact on society.
Once ice-bound, difficult to access, and largely ignored by the rest of the world, the Arctic is now front and center in the midst of many important questions facing the world today. Our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all interconnected with the future of the Arctic. The year 2012 was an astounding year for Arctic change. The summer sea ice volume smashed previous records, losing approximately 75 percent of its value since 1980 and half of its areal coverage. Multiple records were also broken when 97 percent of Greenland's surface experienced melt conditions in 2012, the largest melt extent in the satellite era. Receding ice caps in Arctic Canada are now exposing land surfaces that have been continuously ice covered for more than 40,000 years. What happens in the Arctic has far-reaching implications around the world. Loss of snow and ice exacerbates climate change and is the largest contributor to expected global sea level rise during the next century. Ten percent of the world's fish catches comes from Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that up to 13 percent of the world's remaining oil reserves are in the Arctic. The geologic history of the Arctic may hold vital clues about massive volcanic eruptions and the consequent release of massive amount of coal fly ash that is thought to have caused mass extinctions in the distant past. How will these changes affect the rest of Earth? What research should we invest in to best understand this previously hidden land, manage impacts of change on Arctic communities, and cooperate with researchers from other nations? The Arctic in the Anthropocene reviews research questions previously identified by Arctic researchers, and then highlights the new questions that have emerged in the wake of and expectation of further rapid Arctic change, as well as new capabilities to address them. This report is meant to guide future directions in U.S. Arctic research so that research is targeted on critical scientific and societal questions and conducted as effectively as possible. The Arctic in the Anthropocene identifies both a disciplinary and a cross-cutting research strategy for the next 10 to 20 years, and evaluates infrastructure needs and collaboration opportunities. The climate, biology, and society in the Arctic are changing in rapid, complex, and interactive ways. Understanding the Arctic system has never been more critical; thus, Arctic research has never been more important. This report will be a resource for institutions, funders, policy makers, and students. Written in an engaging style, The Arctic in the Anthropocene paints a picture of one of the last unknown places on this planet, and communicates the excitement and importance of the discoveries and challenges that lie ahead.
Exploring the Real Risks and how We Can Avoid Them
Author: Michael C. MacCracken
Category: Political Science
'An impressive accomplishment. Al Gore, Former Vice President of the US, co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and author of An Inconvenient Truth Offers positive solutions that no rational person, organization or government can ignore - except at their peril. Stephen H. Schneider, Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Stanford University, and author of The Genesis Strategy: Climate and Global Survival The science is clear and the message of this book is that there is no more time for delay. Rosina M. Bierbaum, Dean, University of Michigan While changes in emissions and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are projected to be slow and smooth, the intensity and impacts of climate change on the environment and society could be abrupt and erratic. Surprising and nonlinear responses are likely to occur as warming exceeds certain thresholds, inducing relatively rapid and disruptive changes in the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, precipitation intensity and patterns, coastal inundation, the occurrence of wildfire, the ranges of plant and animal species and more. Written by a transdisciplinary group of internationally respected researchers, this book explores the possibilities of such changes, their significance for society and efforts to move more rapidly to limit climate change than current government measures.
Ocean and coastal law has grown rapidly in the past three decades as a specialty area within natural resources law and environmental law. This book unites the two worlds of climate change regulation and ocean and coastal management. It raises important questions about whether and how ocean and coastal law will respond to the regulatory challenges that climate change presents to resources in the oceans and coasts of the United States and the world.
Climate change is arguably the great problem confronting humanity, but we have done little to head off this looming catastrophe. In The Perfect Moral Storm, philosopher Stephen Gardiner illuminates our dangerous inaction by placing the environmental crisis in an entirely new light, considering it as an ethical failure. Gardiner clarifies the moral situation, identifying the temptations (or "storms") that make us vulnerable to a certain kind of corruption. First, the world's most affluent nations are tempted to pass on the cost of climate change to the poorer and weaker citizens of the world. Second, the present generation is tempted to pass the problem on to future generations. Third, our poor grasp of science, international justice, and the human relationship to nature helps to facilitate inaction. As a result, we are engaging in willful self-deception when the lives of future generations, the world's poor, and even the basic fabric of life on the planet is at stake. We should wake up to this profound ethical failure, Gardiner concludes, and demand more of our institutions, our leaders and ourselves. "This is a radical book, both in the sense that it faces extremes and in the sense that it goes to the roots." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews "The book's strength lies in Gardiner's success at understanding and clarifying the types of moral issues that climate change raises, which is an important first step toward solutions." --Science Magazine "Gardiner has expertly explored some very instinctual and vitally important considerations which cannot realistically be ignored. --Required reading." --Green Prophet "Gardiner makes a strong case for highlighting and insisting on the ethical dimensions of the climate problem, and his warnings about buck-passing and the dangerous appeal of moral corruptions hit home." --Times Higher Education "Stephen Gardiner takes to a new level our understanding of the moral dimensions of climate change. A Perfect Moral Storm argues convincingly that climate change is the greatest moral challenge our species has ever faced - and that the problem goes even deeper than we think." --Peter Singer, Princeton University
Human activities are yielding rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and other gases and particulates and are also greatly altering the Earth¿s land cover. These activities, if allowed to continue unabated, will have extensive, highly uncertain, but potentially serious and costly impacts on regional climates and ocean conditions throughout the world. Here is an overview of the current understanding of the impacts of climate change in the U.S., emphasizing the wide range of uncertainty about the magnitude and timing of those impacts and the implications of that uncertainty for the formulation of effective policy responses. Provides a conceptual framework for addressing climate change as an economic concern. Illustrations.
Author: Committee on Climate Change and U.S. Transportation
Publisher: Transportation Research Board
While every mode of transportation in the U.S. will be affected as the climate changes, potentially the greatest impact on transportation systems will be flooding of roads, railways, transit systems, and airport runways in coastal areas because of rising sea levels and surges brought on by more intense storms, says a new report from the National Research Council. Though the impacts of climate change will vary by region, it is certain they will be widespread and costly in human and economic terms, and will require significant changes in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation systems. The U.S. transportation system was designed and built for local weather and climate conditions, predicated on historical temperature and precipitation data. The report finds that climate predictions used by transportation planners and engineers may no longer be reliable, however, in the face of new weather and climate extremes. Infrastructure pushed beyond the range for which it was designed can become stressed and fail, as seen with loss of the U.S. 90 Bridge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.