New reports show that the issue of climate change needs to be addressed with an early warning system. Concerns have swelled about the possibility of swift and extensive changes within climate structures. These changes will affect the Earth’s atmosphere, land surfaces and oceans, and could take place within a few decades, or potentially years. If this happens, it will leave little time for society and ecosystems to adjust.
A new report from the National Research Council, expands on the idea of abrupt climate change. Researches claim that even with firmly gradual changes within the physical climate system, there could still be sudden influences elsewhere. For example, within ecosystems.
The report has urged the development of an early warning system, that could provide early assistance to alleviate the problems of climate change, rather than witnessing a sudden struggle.
James W.C, a professor of geological sciences who wrote the report, stated that the research is helping to identify more imminent threats of climate change, and differentiate them, from the ones that are less inclined to occur this century. This, he said, is something that helps the evaluation of climate change, as it looks at impacts from a “potential magnitude,” and likelihood of occurrence, point of view. Ultimately, this will influence future decision-making, and how to prepare or adapt for these events.
Abrupt climate change and impacts are already being scrutinized as pressing concerns, which includes the evaporation of late-summer, Arctic-ocean ice, and also an increasing number of species that will become extinct, particularly ones from oceanic and terrestrial habitats. This is why the report states that climate change needs to be addressed with an early warning system.
Other scenarios include the deterioration of the west Antarctic ice sheet. This has the potential to trigger major consequences. However, the probability of this happening within the next century needs to be further investigated, as scientists are still attempting to fully comprehend the situation.
Despite this, the understanding of climate change has seen much progression, and scientists have the ability to establish whether certain high-impact climate changes are likely to occur within the next century. The report indicates that a breakdown in the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation formations, and a fast discharge of methane from permafrost or ice below the ocean, is not likely to happen this century. However, problems like this continue to be troublesome in the long-term.
The report added that even changes that occur progressively, can cause sudden ecological or socio-economic changes once a “tipping point” is accessed. This could also affect things like human infrastructure and the extinction of species.
Scientists are hoping to gather enough information to create an early warning system, which will provide meticulous monitoring, by using “existing land and satellite systems, and modifying them if necessary.” They have also stated the possibility of constructing new systems. The system would provide data collection and analysis, model testing and development. There would also be predictions made about the needs of future data.
As investigations continue, this type of early warning system may be generated by scientists, as they believe that society needs to address the potentially crippling impacts of climate change.
By Melissa McDonald