Video of the Week: The IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released on Sept. 25 its Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, or SROCC.

The study examines the already apparent effects that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions have had on the oceans and frozen areas of the world and offers projections on what is likely to occur in the coming decades.

“The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, said in a press release. “But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways — for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”

The melting of glaciers, the report says, is causing people in high mountain regions to become increasingly exposed to hazards like avalanches, landslides, and flooding and more susceptible to changes in water availability.

Small glaciers in Europe, eastern Africa, the Andes, and Indonesia could diminish by 80 percent by the end of the century if nations fail to dramatically reduce their emissions, the report says. Tourism, recreational activities, and cultural life will continue to be impacted by glacier mass loss, and hydroelectric and agricultural production are being altered.

“Changes in water availability will not just affect people in these high mountain regions, but also communities much further downstream,” Panmao Zhai, an IPCC co-chair and general secretary of the Chinese Meteorological Society, said in a press release.

“Limiting warming would help them adapt to changes in water supplies in mountain regions and beyond, and limit risks related to mountain hazards,” he said. “Integrated water management and transboundary cooperation provides opportunities to address impacts of these changes in water resources.”

SROCC is the latest special report authored by the IPCC, which conducts a comprehensive assessment of the Earth’s climate about every five to seven years. It released in Oct. 2018 a special report on the impacts of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming compared to pre-Industrial Age levels. Its sixth assessment report is expected to be published in June 2022.

Read more about the report in this post, republished with permission from the Mountain Research Initiative.

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