Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation

By S. C. Pryor | Go to book overview

1.
Climate Change Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability,
and Adaptation:
An Introduction
S. C. PRYOR
global Climate Change
There is an overwhelming preponderance of evidence to suggest that human activities have, and are, modifying the global atmospheric composition sufficiently that anthropogenic climate change is already being experienced (Bernstein et al. 2007). Further, it is now inevitable that the global climate system will continue to change as a consequence of both past and future emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) (Bernstein et al. 2007) and may achieve conditions that lie outside the range of climate states that humans have experienced (Solomon et al. 2009). Although “No-one can predict the consequences of climate change with complete certainty; . . . we now know enough to understand the risks” (Stern 2007). Substantiating evidence for these assertions may be drawn from the following major findings from the Fourth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (see Table 1.1 for information regarding the IPCC definitions used to articulate confidence or likelihood):
We have “very high confidence that the global average net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m−2” (Solomon et al. 2007).
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Palaeoclimatic information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years. . . . Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” (Solomon et al. 2007).
“For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected . . . Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century” (Solomon et al. 2007).

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