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The Critical Decade 2013

Climate change science, risks and responses


Professor Will Steffen

www.climatecommission.gov.au

Outline of talk
Basics of climate science Risks of a changing climate Responding to climate change challenges and opportunities

The atmosphere is warming

Where does the excess heat go?

Source: IPCC AR4

The ocean is warming

Changes faster than predicted

Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

Warming is occurring worldwide


Observed 20th century warming can only be explained by including both drivers of natural variability and the additional greenhouse gases emitted by human activities.
IPCC AR4 2007

2,000 year global land temperature reconstruction

Climate Change Science: Summary


Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, melting of snow and ice, and rising sea level. Numerous changes in climate have been observed at the scales of continents or ocean basins - wind patterns, precipitation, ocean salinity, sea ice, ice sheets, and aspects of extreme weather.

It is very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases caused most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century.
IPCC AR4 2007

Decisions: risks and opportunities

Risks

Decision point

Meinshausen et al. 2009

Extreme weather and climate change

We are living in a new climate

Heatwaves

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)

IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)

Projected return period of hot day compared with late 20th century return period of 20 years
B1 A1B A2

Heavy rainfall and flooding

Influence of warming on the water cycle

SST and rainfall extremes


SST anomalies 1 Aug - 31 Dec 2010

Rainfall deciles 1 Aug - 31 Dec 2010

IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)

Projected return period of heavy daily rainfall compared with late 20th century return period of 20 years

Changing rainfall patterns

IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)

Gray shading: less than 66% model agreement on sign of change Coloured shading: 66% model agreement on sign of change Stippling: 90% model agreement on sign of change

Consequences of sea-level rise


Western Australia Perth region

Torres Strait Islands

Influence of sea-level on coastal flooding

Sea-level rise projections

Adapting to sea-level rise

J. Hunter 2011

Polar ice sheets and sea-level rise

Rignot et al. 2011 Source: Shepherd at al. 2012

Decisions: risks and opportunities

Risks

Decision point

Opportunities
Meinshausen et al. 2009

Opportunities: New Energy Systems


Electron Silicon wafer Rear metal

Solar Concentrators

Solar Thermal

Opportunities: built infrastructure


Mitigation aim for C-neutrality in all buildings. Or generate more electricity than is consumed. Six green star (or above) could become the standard. Adaptation Minimise resource use e.g., water Design to minimise impact of extreme heat Build green star communities green infrastructure Dont build on vulnerable coastlines or flood-prone areas

Opportunities: engaging individuals and communities

Key Messages
The evidence for climate change is overwhelming and clear. It is beyond reasonable doubt that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause. We are already seeing the social, economic and environmental impacts of a changing climate, especially extreme events. The risks rise as climate shifts further.

Risks to business include climate change impacts, policy changes, stranded assets, loss of community support.
Opportunities for business include new green industries, rise of prosumers, networking

www.climatecommission.gov.au