Monday, 16 February 2009

Severity of Global Warming Underestimated

Leading climate change scientist, Professor Chris Field has announced that the severity of global warming over the next century will be well beyond anything predicted.

Field, a senior member of the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), revealed his findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on Saturday. He told the attendees that IPCC’s previous report on climate change in 2007 (of which he was co-author) had substantially underestimated the rate of global warming and the extent of the problem.

"We are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we've considered seriously in climate policy," he said.

Increases in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000-2007 have accelerated more rapidly than forecast “primarily because developing countries, like China and India, increased their electric power generation, by burning more coal” he said. This means that temperatures rises could exceed 6.4 oC over the next century.

The temperature rises could cause large scale melting of permafrost in the Arctic and dry out tropical forests enough for wildfires to breakout. This would dramatically increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and have potentially devastating consequences for the global climate.

"Without effective action, climate change is going to be larger and more difficult to deal with than we thought," Field warned.

Read more about this story on the BBC news website and the Guardian news website