Global experts selected for critical IPCC climate change reports

Published by Shane O'Reilly on

August 18th, 2017

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has invited over 200 experts from countries on each continent to prepare two separate special reports on how climate change will impact critical aspects of the Earth.

The reports will document existing scientific knowledge and the linkages between climate change and land and climate change and oceans and the cryosphere – the region of the globe that is frozen.

The reports were commissioned and outlined at the conclusion of the 45th IPCC Meeting back in March of this year.

Both reports are being referred to as “unique in IPCC history”, reflecting the increased awareness of how important and fragile these spheres are to climate change.

Oceans, Ice and Land

In reference to the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere (SROCC), Hans Pörter, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II said: “The oceans offer many services to ecosystems and humankind, from climate regulation to food supply”.

He also emphasized the serious risk to humanity posed by sea-level rise: “ocean-cryosphere-atmosphere interactions will shape sea-level rise as a major challenge to human civilization”.

Rising sea-level is a major concern since many major urban centres are situated on coasts and are at major risk given projected sea-level rise between 20 centimetres and 2 metres by 2100.

Desertification, salinisation, land grabbing and urbanisation, soil carbon loss, greenhouse gas emissions from land and food security are all major concerns for mankind and will be exacerbated by climate change.

The Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) will assess the scientific basis behind these issues, how they will be impacted by climate change and provide strategies towards sustainable land management.

Rigorous selection

Since the conclusion of the 45th IPCC meeting in March, the selection process has whittled down the authors from hundreds of nominations.

Referring to the rigorous selection process, Debra Roberts Co-Chair of Working Group II stressed: “a diverse and skilled author team is critical in ensuring a report of the highest policy relevance” is needed.

The process took into account expertise, geographic representation, gender and previous IPCC experience to decide on the current invited authors.

36 per cent of selected experts for the SROCC are from developing countries, with that figure rising to 56 per cent for the SRCCL.

Just short of one third of authors are women for both reports.

The sole Irish-based author is Gary Lanigan, who is a Teagasc research officer with expertise on greenhouse gas emissions and emissions mitigation strategies in relation to the agricultural sector.

Both reports are set to be finalized by September 2019 and will be essential documents for policymakers as we transition into what many believe are the critical years where we must make last-ditch efforts to mitigate the most serious impacts of climate change this century.

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Shane O'Reilly

Shane is a contributor to the Green News. He is an environmental research scientist, based in University College Dublin and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his PhD in environmental chemistry from Dublin City University.