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2013 IPCC Assessment Report on Climate Change

Climate Change 2007 Update

1. What makes the climate change?

    The source document for this Digest states:

    Greenhouse gases are produced mainly by the burning of
										fossil fuels
    Greenhouse gases are produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels

    INTRODUCTION

    The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report describes progress in understanding of the human and natural drivers of climate change, observed climate change, climate processes and attribution, and estimates of projected future climate change. It builds upon past IPCC assessments and incorporates new findings from the past six years of research. Scientific progress since the TAR is based upon large amounts of new and more comprehensive data, more sophisticated analyses of data, improvements in understanding of processes and their simulation in models, and more extensive exploration of uncertainty ranges.

    The basis for substantive paragraphs in this Summary for Policymakers can be found in the chapter sections specified in curly brackets.

    HUMAN AND NATURAL DRIVERS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    Changes in the atmospheric abundance of greenhouse gases and aerosols, in solar radiation and in land surface properties alter the energy balance of the climate system. These changes are expressed in terms of radiative forcing, which is used to compare how a range of human and natural factors drive warming or cooling influences on global climate. Since the Third Assessment Report (TAR), new observations and related modelling of greenhouse gases, solar activity, land surface properties and some aspects of aerosols have led to improvements in the quantitative estimates of radiative forcing.

    Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years (see Figure SPM-1). The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture. {2.3, 6.4, 7.3}

    • Carbon dioxide is the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas (see Figure SPM-2). The global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2005 exceeds by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years (180 to 300 ppm) as determined from ice cores. The annual carbon dioxide concentration growth-rate was larger during the last 10 years (1995 – 2005 average: 1.9 ppm per year), than it has been since the beginning of continuous direct atmospheric measurements (1960 – 2005 average: 1.4 ppm per year) although there is year-to-year variability in growth rates. {2.3, 7.3}
    • The primary source of the increased atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide since the pre-industrial period results from fossil fuel use, with land use change providing another significant but smaller contribution. Annual fossil carbon dioxide emissions increased from an average of 6.4 [6.0 to 6.8] 5 GtC (23.5 [22.0 to 25.0] GtCO2) per year in the 1990s, to 7.2 [6.9 to 7.5] GtC (26.4 [25.3 to 27.5] GtCO2) per year in 2000–2005 (2004 and 2005 data are interim estimates). Carbon dioxide emissions associated with land-use change are estimated to be 1.6 [0.5 to 2.7] GtC (5.9 [1.8 to 9.9] GtCO2) per year over the 1990s, although these estimates have a large uncertainty. {7.3}
    • The global atmospheric concentration of methane has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 715 ppb to 1732 ppb in the early 1990s, and is 1774 ppb in 2005. The atmospheric concentration of methane in 2005 exceeds by far the natural range of the last 650,000 years (320 to 790 ppb) as determined from ice cores. Growth rates have declined since the early 1990s, consistent with total emissions (sum of anthropogenic and natural sources) being nearly constant during this period. It is very likely that the observed increase in methane concentration is due to anthropogenic activities, predominantly agriculture and fossil fuel use, but relative contributions from different source types are not well determined. {2.3, 7.4}
    • The global atmospheric nitrous oxide concentration increased from a pre-industrial value of about 270 ppb to 319 ppb in 2005. The growth rate has been approximately constant since 1980. More than a third of all nitrous oxide emissions are anthropogenic and are primarily due to agriculture. {2.3, 7.4}

    The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the Third Assessment Report (TAR), leading to very high confidence that the globally averaged 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. (see Figure SPM-2). {2.3. 6.5, 2.9}

    • The combined radiative forcing due to increases in carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is +2.30 [+2.07 to +2.53] W m-2, and its rate of increase during the industrial era is very likely to have been unprecedented in more than 10,000 years (see Figure SPM-1 and SPM-2). The carbon dioxide radiative forcing increased by 20% from 1995 to 2005, the largest change for any decade in at least the last 200 years. {2.3, 6.4}
    • Anthropogenic contributions to aerosols (primarily sulphate, organic carbon, black carbon, nitrate and dust) together produce a cooling effect, with a total direct radiative forcing of -0.5 [-0.9 to -0.1] W m-2 and an indirect cloud albedo forcing of -0.7 [-1.8 to -0.3] W m-2. These forcings are now better understood than at the time of the TAR due to improved in situ, satellite and ground-based measurements and more comprehensive modelling, but remain the dominant uncertainty in radiative forcing. Aerosols also influence cloud lifetime and precipitation. {2.4, 2.9, 7.5}
    • Significant anthropogenic contributions to radiative forcing come from several other sources. Tropospheric ozone changes due to emissions of ozone-forming chemicals (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons) contribute +0.35 [+0.25 to +0.65] W m-2. The direct radiative forcing due to changes in halocarbons8 is +0.34 [+0.31 to +0.37] W m-2. Changes in surface albedo, due to land-cover changes and deposition of black carbon aerosols on snow, exert respective forcings of -0.2 [-0.4 to 0.0] and +0.1 [0.0 to +0.2] W m-2. Additional terms smaller than ±0.1 W m-2 are shown in Figure SPM-2. {2.3, 2.5, 7.2}
    • Changes in solar irradiance since 1750 are estimated to cause a radiative forcing of +0.12 [+0.06 to +0.30] W m-2, which is less than half the estimate given in the TAR. {2.7}

    Source & ©: IPCC (WGI)  Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis,
    Summary for Policymakers (2007)
    , p.2-5


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