Signiticant Global Warming During The 21st Century
New research published in Europe and the United States today discloses an even greater prospect of significant global warming over the next century unless world-wide mitigation policies are introduced, senior NIWA climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger said today.
Speaking after a visit to the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, he said this new research carried out by scientists at highly respected British, American and German institutions, disclosed that in the absence of climate mitigation policies the 90 percent probability range for global warming between 1990 and 2100 AD was 1.7 to 4.9 degrees centigrade. Even the 50 percent low and high probability range was 2.4 to 4.8 degrees centigrade.
“These figures are more precise than the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that predicted a range of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees centigrade. The reason is that the researchers have made provision for uncertainties in the IPCC report that related to future greenhouse gas emission levels and absorption, climate sensitivity and ocean influence.
“This research reinforces the warning of significant climate change because it says in essence that the warming range agreed by consensus within the IPCC is on a balance of probabilities 90 percent correct. As a wake-up call to political leaders to reach agreement on counter-measures it is highly significant.”
The new research was carried out at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, the University of East Anglia and the Alfred-Wagener Institut for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. Dr Salinger was briefed on the new research while at the University of East Anglia.
He said that the release of the research while world political figures and science leaders are gathering in Germany to discuss measures to combat global warming was widely expected to heighten diplomatic pressures on Washington to adjust its position of opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol provides a basis for countries to curb emissions of greenhouse gases that exacerbate global warming.
“The report can be taken as an endorsement of climate research to date on global warming issues. It identifies inherent weaknesses in the IPCC report that are the result of an inevitable consensus approach, and makes provision for the uncertainties that report canvassed.
“From a South Pacific perspective, this new research suggests we cannot afford to ignore the results of highly focused analysis. Even if we accept the low estimate of a 1.7 degree centigrade rise in mean global temperatures there will still be major impact on our region. This would include further loss of snow and ice in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, and of kiwifruit cropping in the north.
“At the top end of the range covering a 4.9 degree centigrade increase in world mean temperatures, potential impacts would include the commencement of melting of the Greenland ice cap, devastation of the coral reef ecosystems in the tropical Pacific, and main growing areas of Hawke’s Bay and Nelson would become unsuitable for growing apples in New Zealand.
“No doubt climate sceptics will continue to decry the relevance of the research. But the authority and background of the researchers and their institutions is highly impressive. They are among the world’s top climate scientists. Their message represents a wake-up call for policy action.”