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Lower increases in global temps could lead to greater impacts than previously thought, study finds
Date:2/23/2009

Princeton, NJ February 23, 2009 - A new study by scientists updating some of the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 Third Assessment Report finds that even a lower level of increase in average global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions could cause significant problems in five key areas of global concern.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is titled "Assessing Dangerous Climate Change Through an Update of the IPCC 'Reasons for Concern."

In 2001, the IPCC published as part of its Third Assessment Report an illustrative figure which identified changes in climate authors determined to be "reasons for concern," and which could cause some or significant risks among five types of outcomes that could be categorized as "dangerous."

Sometimes referred to as the "burning embers" diagram, the five reasons for concern are:

  • Risk to unique and threatened systems, such as the potential for increased damage to or irreversible loss of unique and threatened systems such as coral reefs, tropical glaciers, endangered species, unique ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots, small island states, and indigenous communities. The study authors contend that there is new and stronger evidence since 2001 of observed impacts of climate change on unique and vulnerable systems, with increasing levels of adverse impacts as temperatures increase further.

  • Risk of extreme weather events, which tracks increases in extreme events with substantial consequences for societies and natural systems. Examples include increase in the frequency, intensity, or consequences of heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires or tropical cyclones. The study authors point to new and stronger evidence of the likelihood and likely impacts of such changes, such as the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report conclusion that it is now "more likely than not" that human activity has contributed
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Contact: Steven Barnes
sbarnes@princeton.edu
609-258-5988
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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