World faces risk of abrupt climate change: study
The world faces a growing risk of “abrupt and irreversible climatic shifts’ as fallout from global warming hits faster than expected, according to research by scientists released.
Global surface and ocean temperatures, sea levels, extreme climate events, and the retreat of Arctic sea ice had all significantly picked up more pace than experts predicted only a couple of years ago, they said. The stark warning comes less than six months before an international conference aiming to seal a treaty to save the planet from the worst ravages of global warming. A 36-page document summarized more than 1,400 studies presented at a climate conference in March in Copenhagen, where a United Nations meeting will be held in December to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012.
The report said greenhouse gas emissions and other climate indicators are at or near the upper boundaries forecast by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose 2007 report has been the scientific benchmark for the troubled UN talks. There is also new evidence that the planet itself has begun to contribute to global warming through fallout from human activity. Huge stores of gases such as methane — an even more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — trapped for millennia in the Arctic permafrost may be starting to leak into the atmosphere, speeding up the warming process.