Identifying hotspots: Climate Impacts World Conference

Press release by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research 


Identifying hotspots: Climate Impacts World Conference

Researchers identified a number of hotspots both of global climate change impacts and the science that deals with them. New analyses presented at the Impacts World 2013 Conference this week in Potsdam, Germany, revealed that the Amazon region, east Africa and the Mediterranean will experience serious change if greenhouse-gas emissions continue unabated. More than 300 scientists and stakeholders from 40 countries spent four days discussing the path forward for research on the impacts of climate change – one key outcome is the joining of forces between impacts researchers with economists to assess possible future loss and damage.

“Some of the most excellent brains of climate impacts research from all disciplines came together for the first time to combine their skills,” said co-organizer Hermann Lotze-Campen of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research. “We’re overwhelmed by their dedication to draft a joint research agenda that focuses on the most burning issues of climate impacts.” The assembled scientists agreed on a plan to move from the research of multiple biophysical impacts, affecting natural resources, to economic and social impacts on states and eventually businesses and communities.

At the same time, it was agreed to take concrete steps to explore synergies between regional and global climate impact modelling. “This will help to substantially increase the robustness of these computer simulations,” Lotze-Campen said. “We know that climate change is happening, that it’s largely man-made, and that its negative effects outweigh the positive ones – but now we must, and can, enhance the precision of large-scale impact assessments. This will contribute to improved risk management strategies at various levels.”

The results of the Intersectoral Impacts Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP) are an example of the benefits of this new direction. In an unprecedented community effort, more than 30 modelling groups worldwide across four sectors – agriculture, water cycle, health, and ecosystems – investigated where climate change impacts will hit hardest. “This provides extremely valuable information for climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Lotze-Campen pointed out. “With this joint effort, scientists can help decision-makers to tackle these challenges.”

The conference aimed at painting the big picture of climate impacts, revealing important contours. “Even though we’re very clear about the research gaps that still need to be bridged, it became obvious at the conference that ‘wait-and-see’ is no option for dealing with the effects of climate change,” Lotze-Campen added. “The emerging picture confirms for various sectors that global warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius should be avoided to prevent large-scale damages, and the increasing severity of damage beyond this threshold.”

Martin Parry, Imperial College London / The Centre for Environmental Policy: “Findings of the Intersectoral Impacts Model Intercomparison Project reported at this conference demonstrate that the project is a ‘shot in the arm’ for impacts research – in other words that it has injected some fresh pace into our research efforts.”

 Liyong Xi, Shenyang Agricultural University, China: “Scientists should not shy away from saying very clearly what the impacts of climate change are likely to be, and what adaptation could look like – as many speakers put forward that this is what policy-makers keep asking us. So we need to quantify impacts, and put numbers to adaptation measures. This conference aimed to and achieved more progress in doing this. Yet we must – and will – continue this crucial effort on global scale. One important issue is agriculture, which is very sensitive to climate change. This affects global food security, of course for developing countries with a large population in particular. So it turns out we must pay more attention to climate change impacts on farmers worldwide.”

Filipe Duarte Santos, University of Lisbon, Portugal: “The Impacts World 2013 Conference was a very successful opportunity to present and discuss the more recent achievements in modeling climate change impacts. We understand better the uncertainties involved, but we still have a long way to go because of the complexity of human and natural systems. Nevertheless, we should engage in planned adaptation. I suggest a greater effort on the study of impacts on health, in particular with regards to vector borne diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other animals that due to the changing climate spread to regions where they did not exist before.”

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Comment on “Identifying hotspots: Climate Impacts World Conference”

  1. These people should stick to ‘model’ airplanes and such. Gee, it must be tough on the alarmist fund raising front, sort of a cold front I guess. The IMGS (Increase My Grants Society) normally hold such sessions in the more expensive and exotic locales. They only prove one thing for sure; you can go anywhere on other people’s money! That the ‘Impacts World 2013 Conference’ was held in Potsdam, Germany is proof of their funding difficulty. Next they’ll be telling me that Al Gore and Michael Moore left their estates and aimed their climate friendly jets for Potsdam!

    Pity Warren Buffett couldn’t make it. Sadly, he’s far too busy guiding Berkshire Hathaway’s BNSF Railway Co. to a capital spending increase of about $4.1 billion this year. That’s a lot of money but no one knows better than Buffet that you’ve got to speculate to accumulate. You see his railroad is preparing to better handle rising oil shipments from the northern states and Canada. The 2013 proposal includes $2.3 billion on the core rail network and about $1 billion on locomotive, freight car (oil cars) and equipment purchases as well as the expansion of intermodal terminal capacity. Oh yes, he is still an advisor to President Obama.

    But back to the climate, yes it is true, global temperatures did increase for about twenty years from the late 1970s to the late 1990s. The warmest year ever recorded in the USA from 1900 until these globally incinerated times, however, was in 1934. That’s according to NASA. Five of the ten warmest years since 1900 were before 1940 and the warmest decade in the USA was the 1930s.

    The coldest occurred in the mid 1970s. This was a period when some scientists and most of the press said the earth was heading toward another Ice Age. I remember that. It was cold and it snowed a lot where I live. Happily, the summers were fine. Mind you, a goodly number of those same scientists and reporters are still about today. Only it’s not another Ice Age they are yammering about, it’s Global Warming. Whatever could be next? What could possibly be more “severe” or “extreme?” Not to worry, they’ll find something. Perhaps I can be of some assistance.

    It has been widely reported lately, outside of Potsdam at least, that it has either stopped warming or begun to cool in the last fifteen years. Hundreds of years of historical trends and observation of solar activity have predicted this subsequent cooling of global temperatures. Solar activity is in decline. Four of the five most active solar cycles since the 1600’s resulted in periods of warming. Active solar cycles historically have caused these warming temperatures but sunspots are becoming fewer and fewer (according to the S.I.D.C.).This has led to cooler temperatures in the past and will do so again.

    Warm is good though and for most of the past 10,000 years the earth was warmer than today’s temperatures. The Roman Period and Medieval Period were both several degrees warmer than today. Grapes grew all over England and Germany during Roman times! Temperatures today would be deemed cool by comparison. But the world did cool by at least four degrees from approximately 1450 to 1850. This period was called the Little Ice Age. This was a period of glacial advance. These very same glaciers have been reported in retreat until recently. I am fond of pointing this period out as it was not so long ago when the Thames, the Seine and the Hudson froze. Something about that appeals to the river games of my hockey playing youth. These temperature variations were not caused by man by the way. They were caused entirely by natural forces.

    If you add the sea ice volumes at both poles there is about the same amount of ice as there was 30 years ago according to NASA and NSIDC. The Bering Sea off Alaska in 2012 had the most ice area ever recorded. In 2010, the Antarctic ice extent was the third largest ever recorded and the average snowfall there was the most ever recorded. I guess it all warms up this year.

    NSIDC/NASA AMSR-E also show that the overall trend of ocean temperatures since 2002 is one of cooling. This, of course, is contrary to climate model predictions but then the models only work when you plug in the answer you are looking for which really isn’t science, is it? Tell the lads at Potsdam.

    The trend for violent tornadoes is also in decline. U.S. landfall hurricanes are less numerous and powerful than decades ago. Remember, 6,000 people died when a #5 hurricane destroyed Galveston in 1900. Global hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone activity are nearing 50 year lows according to Florida State University. Trouble is people keep building where and how they shouldn’t. The recent tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma occurred primarily where no housing previously existed. Look what Sandy, a #1, did to Rockaway where no housing should ever be, think National Park. We build below sea level, next to rivers and in Tornado Alley. The results can hardly be blamed on the climate. Property damage from coastal storms has increased due to over development, higher population density and falling land levels. We have also filled in swamps and narrowed rivers as building lots. See the Hudson. True, it costs more to rebuild every year but those of you with grandparents still alive can ask what it cost to build their homes. Prices go up. Duh! Why build in dangerous areas? Double Duh!!

    By the end of the 2010 hurricane season, global cyclone activity was at a 33 year low while Pacific storms recorded their lowest number since recording began in 1945. Fewer hurricanes reached US shores in the past three years. Global hurricane (tornado) activity in 2010 was at the lowest level in three decades even though 2010 was a warm year overall. That should have fed the hurricanes. Tornado activity in 2012 was at the lowest level ever recorded according to NOAA. Tornados in the U.S. are down from an average of 500 per year to 250. They are destructive and dangerous all the same.

    Gore likes to bemoan, for money, that Polar Bears are threatened but there are more polar bears today than ever recorded, an increase of 300%+ since the 1950s when I was a boy. There was a grand picture of one on an iceberg on my bedroom wall. I wonder where that went. Polar Bears are excellent swimmers and can swim 200 miles or more. Forget that shot of forlorn bears “stranded” on a melting ice floe. A Polar Bear with a radio tracking collar swam over 400 miles in 9 days without rest. He was probably looking for the guy that put the collar on him! They have also survived periods when the Arctic melted completely in the past. They moved to land where they go to mate in any case. Their favorite food, besides seal meat, is blueberries which are also found on land. Normally, during the normal Summer Arctic ice melt, Polar Bears either migrate to land or further north where there is no melting. Fish swim, bears move. In the last 10,000 years Polar Bears have survived several warming periods when the Arctic had severe summer melting and, in all likelihood, melted entirely. Evidence demonstrates that the Arctic sea ice has completely melted at least four times before man first walked the earth. Tropical turtle fossils have been found in the Arctic, proving this area was once much warmer than today. Either that or these turtles had fur!

    So where is the panic? Is it just the CO2 or the drying up of funds? True, concentrations of CO2 continue to increase yet temperatures have been falling since 2002. Global temperatures have declined in five of the last seven decades even though CO2 levels increased throughout this same period. It reminds me of the ‘Austerity’ wailing in Europe. Their spending goes up every year but they cry ‘Austerity.’ Somehow they don’t budget like we old pensioners. I could show them ‘Austerity.’

    Anyhoo, the Polar ice is growing. Storm intensity is in decline. But solar activity is at the lowest level in almost a century. In the past, periods with fewer sunspots and lower solar activity were ones with cooler temperatures. It is believed by some scientists that lower solar activity increases cloud formation and this has a cooling effect. This has already begun. Where is the global warming? Europe, North America and many other areas of the Earth have recently experienced a score of unusually low and bitterly cold temperatures.

    No doubt the shrill and the grant supported will scream until they get a carbon cap and trade system of some sort. In theory, it would raise hundreds of billions of dollars each year for the government which it would need to pay all the unemployed and, no doubt, the grants. It begs the question of who will actually pay the tax. If the U.S. eliminates 100% of its CO2 emissions and completely destroys its economy in the process, China will replace all the CO2 within in 2 years. How would the U.S. get its economy back, windmills?

    The UK Met Office in England has maintained a temperature record for over 350 years. Summer temperatures in the 20th Century were cooler than those of the 18th Century. Temperatures do vary. There were 23 periods of cooling and warming in the past 500 years with the average cycle being 27 years long. There were two cooling and warming periods in the past 100 years alone. Global temperatures today are among the coolest in the last 500 million years. Mankind has largely prospered during warming periods due to higher crop yields and open shipping lanes. By the same token, mankind has historically suffered during cooling periods, from lower crop yields, hunger and disease.
    Urban growth has increased land temperatures but upper atmosphere and sea temperatures have not increased. If CO2 was causing the higher land temperatures the seas and upper atmosphere should also be warming, but they are not. It was actually warmer in each of the last three interglacial periods than it is today.
    Atmospheric CO2 levels are today among the lowest in the last 545 million years. As a percentage of the atmosphere since 1750 it is only 1/10,000th, or (100ppm). There was 15 times more CO2 in the atmosphere during the Ordovician-Sulurian glaciation, 5 times more during the Cretaceous-Jurassic glaciation and more also during the Permain glaciation. CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been as much as 25 times what they are today. Current CO2 concentrations are among the lowest in the past billion years.

    As a trace gas, CO2 is less than 4/100’s of 1% of all gases in the atmosphere. Of the 186 billion tons of CO2 that enters the earth’s atmosphere every year only 6 billion tons are from human activity, the rest is from natural causes such as decaying vegatation, volcanic activity and the oceans to name but a few. Man only contributes 3% of CO2 in the atmosphere. If CO2 truly caused global warming there would have been a catastrophe centuries ago.

    Greenhouse gases keep us alive. Without them the average temperatures would be 4 below zero F instead of the 59F we currently enjoy. Water vapor makes up 95% of all greenhouse gases. CO2 is only 3.6% of greenhouse gases and since man only contributes 3.2% of all CO2 into the atmosphere, less than 1% of all greenhouse gasses come from human activity (Dr. Michael R. Fox).

    Concentrations of CO2 above 5,000ppm make people sick. There are no scenarios that CO2 will get anywhere near this high, no matter how much the CO2 is produced burning fossil fuels. Many say the high limit is 600 ppm, with nature (oceans) absorbing the rest. The oceans hold 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere. This CO2 is given up to the atmosphere as water warms and it absorbs more CO2 as it cools. Fossil fuels will run out before CO2 concentrations will get over the above levels.

    It was not unusual to find atmospheric CO2 levels to be ten times that of today during previous Ice Ages. There were three ice ages with more CO2 than today. CO2 does not have much impact on global temperatures and does not cause global warming or global cooling. Clearly, it did not stop any Ice Age from occurring either. Either CO2 doesn’t have much impact on climate or the sun’s reduced energy caused the Ice Ages. Perhaps it is some combination of both.

    There has only been a 1/10,000th increase in atmospheric CO2 since the beginning of the industrial age over 250 years ago. It is hard to think that this small concentration will melt the world’s ice. In the late Ordovician Period, Global CO2 concentrations were 12 times what they are today (4,400 ppm) yet this did not stop an Ice Age from occurring.

    Solar Cycle 23 which will soon be ending will be the longest solar cycle since 1796 and solar cycle 24, which is now beginning, will most likely be very weak. This is a strong indicator that the earth will be cooling and this period will last at least 30 years or more. This is based on over 250 years of observing the relationship between solar output and temperatures.

    CERN has shown that solar activity is the primary driver of the global climate. Even a UN IPCC report includes statements that a solar forcing might include other things than irradiance and a solar-cloud connection might exist. NASA says even small changes in solar activity can have a significant effect on the global climate. Weaker solar cycles are expected to cause global temperatures to plummet.

    So there it is. The alarmists can now run around screaming, “Watch out, Global Cooling is coming!”

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