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Last edited 05 Apr 2022
Climate change 2021: the physical science basis IPCC report
|Below are extracts of key points from the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis which was released on 9 August 2021.|
The IPCC does not carry out the research itself, but reviews and assesses existing research and other information. Thousands of scientists contribute voluntarily to the work of the IPCC in order that it can reflect a wide range of views and expertise. 195 countries are members of the IPCC, participating in the review process and the plenary sessions.
They are now in the sixth assessment reporting or cycle (AR6), this report was compiled by the first of three working groups and is the first report issued in this cycle. The other two are:
- The Working Group II contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report is entitled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability and was released on 28 February 2022.
- The Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report is entitled Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change and was released on 4 April 2022.
- The Synthesis Report will be the last of the AR6 products will be considered in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 27-31 October.
To avoid interpretation, the summary text from the 'Summary for Policymakers' has been directly quoted below along with key points and sub-points. These summaries, along with the full reports for all working groups for reports between 2021 and 2022, can be accessed here: https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/ The final Synthesis report will published towards the end of 2022.
 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis
 A The Current State of the Climate
"Since AR5, improvements in observationally-based estimates and information from paleoclimate archives provide a comprehensive view of each component of the climate system and its changes to date. New climate model simulations, new analyses, and methods combining multiple lines of evidence lead to improved understanding of human influence on a wider range of climate variables, including weather and climate extremes. The time periods considered throughout this section depend upon the availability of observational products, paleoclimate archives and peer-reviewed studies."
- AR6 A.1: It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.
- AR6 A.2: The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole – and the present state of many aspects of the climate system – are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.
- AR6 A.3: Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened.
- AR6 A.4: Improved knowledge of climate processes, paleoclimate evidence and the response of the climate system to increasing radiative forcing gives a best estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity of 3°C, with a narrower range compared to AR5
 B Possible Climate Futures
"A set of five new illustrative emissions scenarios is considered consistently across this Report to explore the climate response to a broader range of greenhouse gas (GHG), land-use and air pollutant futures than assessed in AR5. This set of scenarios drives climate model projections of changes in the climate system. These projections account for solar activity and background forcing from volcanoes. Results over the 21st century are provided for the near term (2021–2040), mid-term (2041–2060) and long term (2081–2100) relative to 1850–1900, unless otherwise stated."
- AR6 B.1 Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.
- AR6 B.2 Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, heavy precipitation, and, in some regions, agricultural and ecological droughts; an increase in the proportion of intense tropical cyclones; and reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.
- AR6 B.3 Continued global warming is projected to further intensify the global water cycle, including its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events.
- AR6 B.4 Under scenarios with increasing CO2 emissions, the ocean and land carbon sinks are projected to be less effective at slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
- AR6 B.5 Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.
 C Climate Information for Risk Assessment and Regional Adaptation
"Physical climate information addresses how the climate system responds to the interplay between human influence, natural drivers and internal variability. Knowledge of the climate response and the range of possible outcomes, including low-likelihood, high impact outcomes, informs climate services, the assessment of climate-related risks, and adaptation planning. Physical climate information at global, regional and local scales is developed from multiple lines of evidence, including observational products, climate model outputs and tailored diagnostics."
- AR6 C.1 Natural drivers and internal variability will modulate human-caused changes, especially at regional scales and in the near term, with little effect on centennial global warming. These modulations are important to consider in planning for the full range of possible changes.
- AR6 C.2 With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers. Changes in several climatic impact-drivers would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels.
- AR6 C.3 Low-likelihood outcomes, such as ice-sheet collapse, abrupt ocean circulation changes, some compound extreme events, and warming substantially larger than the assessed very likely range of future warming, cannot be ruled out and are part of risk assessment.
 D. Limiting Future Climate Change
Since AR5, estimates of remaining carbon budgets have been improved by a new methodology first presented in SR1.5, updated evidence, and the integration of results from multiple lines of evidence. A comprehensive range of possible future air pollution controls in scenarios is used to consistently assess the effects of various assumptions on projections of climate and air pollution. A novel development is the ability to ascertain when climate responses to emissions reductions would become discernible above natural climate variability, including internal variability and responses to natural drivers.
- D.1 From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality.
- D.2 Scenarios with very low or low GHG emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-2.6) lead within years to discernible effects on greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations and air quality, relative to high and very high GHG emissions scenarios (SSP3-7.0 or SSP5-8.5). Under these contrasting scenarios, discernible differences in trends of global surface temperature would begin to emerge from natural variability within around 20 years, and over longer time periods for many other climatic impact-drivers (high confidence).
- Climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability IPCC report
- Climate change 2022: mitigation of climate change IPCC report
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