The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report that says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans.

The report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. A total of 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, were selected to produce the report. They enlisted the help of 436 contributing authors, and a total of 1,729 expert and government reviewers.

The report concludes that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear, though climate change will also continue to produce surprises. The report identifies vulnerable people, industries, and ecosystems around the world. It finds that risk from a changing climate comes from vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends). Each of these three components can be a target for smart actions to decrease risk.

“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”

Adaptation to reduce the risks from a changing climate is now starting to occur, but with a stronger focus on reacting to past events than on preparing for a changing future, according to Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II.

“Climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried. Governments, firms, and communities around the world are building experience with adaptation,” Field said. “This experience forms a starting point for bolder, more ambitious adaptations that will be important as climate and society continue to change.”

Future risks from a changing climate depend strongly on the amount of future climate change. Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe and pervasive impacts that may be surprising or irreversible.

“With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage, and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits,” said Field.

Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: “The Working Group II report is another important step forward in our understanding of how to reduce and manage the risks of climate change. Along with the reports from Working Group I and Working Group III, it provides a conceptual map of not only the essential features of the climate challenge but the options for solutions.”

The Working Group I report was released in September 2013, and the Working Group III report will be released in April 2014. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle concludes with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014.


Impacts of climate change .Please click on the image for a larger view

Impact on Shipping Industry

Impacts of inland navigation vary widely due to projected rise or fall in water levels. Overall, the effects on inland navigation are projected to be negative, and are region-specific.

Increased frequency of flood periods will stop ship traffic on the Rhine more often; longer periods of low flow will also increase the average annual number of days during which inland navigation is hampered or stagnates due to limited load carrying capacity of the river; channel improvements can only partly alleviate these problems. Economic impact could be substantial given the value of navigation on the Rhine.

Virtually all scenarios of future climate change project reduced Great Lakes water levels and connecting channel flows, mainly because of increased evaporation resulting from higher temperatures. The potential economic impact may result in reductions in vessel cargo capacities and increases in shipping costs. The lower water levels predicted as a result of a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide could increase annual transportation costs by 29%, while more moderate climate change could result in a 13 percent increase in annual shipping costs. The impacts vary across commodities and routes.

Warming leads to increased ice-free navigation and longer shipping season, but also to lower water levels from reduced runoff. In cold regions, increased days of ice-free navigation and a longer shipping season could impact shipping and reduce transportation costs, although movement in ice waters as the Canada Arctic sea more become more difficult.

Ports will be affected by climate changes including higher temperatures, sea level rise, increasingly severe storms, and increased precipitation. However, (the need to prioritize) adaptation of ports has been overshadowed by a focus on potential impacts. Training of port personnel is needed to begin the adaptation process. Over $3 trillion in port infrastructure assets in 136 of the world's largest port cities are vulnerable to weather events.

Increased storminess in certain routes may raise cost of shipping through additional safety measures or longer routes that are less storm-prone. Transport costs would increase or new routes sought if storms disrupt supply chains by destroying port infrastructure connecting road or rail. Increased storminess may also affect passage through lock systems. Increased storminess may increase maintenance costs for ships and ports and result in more frequent weather-related delays.

Impact on Energy

Climate and weather related hazards in the oil and gas sector include tropical cyclones with potentially severe effects on off-shore platforms and on-shore infrastructure as well, leading to more frequent production interruptions and evacuation. Gradual changes in air temperature and precipitation are projected to generate risk and opportunities for the oil and gas industry. For example, new areas for oil and gas exploration could open in the Arctic, potentially increasing the technically recoverable resource base. Reduced sea ice thickness and coverage might open new shipping routes, thus reducing shipping costs, while ice scour and ice pack loading on marine structures would increase. However, most changes involve increased risks, such as thawing permafrost would increase construction costs on unstable ground relative to ice-based construction, while thaw subsidence would trigger increased maintenance costs. Sea level rise and coastal erosion would degrade coastal barriers, damage facilities and trigger relocation

Source and Image Credit: IPCC

For more information please read the IPCC report:

Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability

Also read

IPCC Report: A changing climate creates risks but opportunities exist




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