Climate Change Accelerating Beyond Expectations Say Leading Scientists 1

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24th November 2009, 01:11pm - Views: 621

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Tuesday, 24th November 2009, 1000 hours (US Eastern Standard Time [EST]) 

Tuesday, 24th November 2009, 1500 hours (UTC/GMT) 

Tuesday, 24th November 2009, 1600 hours (Central European Time)

Wednesday 25th November 2009, 0200 hours (Australian Eastern Summer time)

Press Conference:  Wednesday, 25th November 2009, 11:00 a.m. Australian Eastern Summer Time

Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) Conference Room, Level 4 Mathews Building,

(Enter Gate 11, Botany Street) University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.



Global ice-sheets are melting at an increased

rate; Arctic sea-ice is disappearing much

faster than recently projected, and future sea-level rise is now expected to be much higher

than previously forecast, according to a new global scientific synthesis prepared by some

of the world’s top climate scientists. 

In a special report called ‘The Copenhagen Diagnosis’, the 26 researchers, most of whom

are authors of published

IPCC reports, conclude that several important aspects of climate

change are occurring at the high end or even beyond the expectations of only a few years


The report also notes that global warming continues to track early IPCC projections based

on greenhouse gas increases.  Without significant mitigation, the report says global mean

warming could reach as high as 7 degrees Celsius by 2100.

The Copenhagen Diagnosis, which was a year in the making, documents the key findings

in climate change science since the publication of the

landmark Intergovernmental Panel

on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report in 2007.

The new evidence to have emerged includes:

Satellite and direct measurements

now demonstrate that both the Greenland and

Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass

and contributing

to sea level rise at an

increasing rate. 

Arctic sea-ice has melted

far beyond the expectations of climate models. For

example, the area of summer sea-ice melt during 2007-2009 was about 40%

greater than the average projection from the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

Sea level has

risen more than



over the past 15 years, about 80%

higher than IPCC projections from 2001. Accounting for ice-sheets and glaciers,

global sea-level rise may exceed 1 meter by 2100, with a rise of up to 2


considered an upper limit by this time.  This is

much higher than


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projected by the IPCC.  Furthermore, beyond 2100, sea level rise of several meters

must be expected over the next few centuries.

In 2008 carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were ~40% higher than those in

1990. Even if emissions do not grow beyond today’s levels, within just 20 years the

world will have used up the allowable emissions to have a reasonable chance of

limiting warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

The report concludes that global emissions must peak then decline rapidly

within the next

five to ten

years for the world

to have a reasonable

chance of avoiding the very worst

impacts of climate change.

To stabilize climate, global emissions of carbon dioxide

and other long-lived greenhouse

gases need to reach near-zero well within this century, the report states.

Statements by Authors

"We have already almost exceeded the safe level of emissions that would ensure a

reasonably secure climate future. Within just a decade global emissions need to be

declining rapidly. A binding treaty is needed urgently to ensure unilateral action among the

high emitters."

Professor Matthew England, ARC Federation Fellow and joint Director of the Climate

Change Research Centre of the University of New South Wales, Australia.

“Sea level is rising much faster and Arctic sea ice cover shrinking more rapidly than we

previously expected. Unfortunately, the data now show us that we have underestimated

the climate crisis in the past."

Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the Oceans and a Department Head

at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

"The massive climate change risk of continuing our surging carbon emissions is clear.  It's

imperative for us to move to a low carbon economy or we risk a climate crunch that would

be far more damaging to humanity this century than any financial crisis."

Dr. Ben McNeil, Climate Change Research Centre of the University of New South Wales,


“The latest data all support the longstanding predictions that the Earth will keep warming if

we keep emitting greenhouse gases like we do now


nobody really knows how well

Australia or the rest of the world could cope with a dramatically warmer climate.”

Professor Steven Sherwood, Professor of Atmospheric Physics, Climate


Research Centre, the University of New South Wales, Australia.

For more information contact:   

Stephen Gray +61 403 802 027 (mobile) or 

Matthew England +61 425 264 485 (mobile) or 

Ben McNeil +61 401 336 857 (mobile) or  

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