Sweeping Federal Climate Change Report

climate changeClimate Change Report – Background

The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years.  According to the New York Times, the National Academy of Science has signed off on the draft report and the authors are awaiting permission from the administration to release it.  The Climate Change draft report was created by scientists from 13 federal agencies.  The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land, in the air and in the oceans. 

Climate Change Report Key Findings as Reported in the New York Times

  1. The average temperature in the U.S. has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years.
  2. The government scientists wrote that surface, air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are rising at a frighteningly fast rate, twice as fast the global average.  “It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the U.S. due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities.”
  3. In the U.S. the number and severity of cool nights have decreased since the 1960’s while the frequency and severity of warm days have increased.  Extreme cold waves are less common since the 1980’s while extreme heat waves are more common.  
  4. The average annual rainfall across the country has increased by about 4% since the beginning of the 20th century.  Parts of the West, Southwest, and Southeast are drying up, while the Southern Plains and the Midwest are getting wetter.  
  5. Worldwide it is extremely likely that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to human influence.
  6. Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.
  7. A small difference in global temperatures can make a big difference in the climate: The difference between a rise in between a rise in global temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius and one of 2 degrees Celsius, for example, could mean longer heat waves, more intense rainstorms and faster disintegration of coral reefs. 
  8. Stabilizing the global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, what scientists have referred to as the guardrail beyond which changes become catastrophic, will require significant reductions in global levels of carbon dioxide.
  9. Nearly 200 nations agreed as part of the Paris accords to limit or cut fossil fuel emission.  If countries make good on those promises, the federal report says, that will be a key step toward keeping global warming at manageable levels.