IPCC Synthesis Report–some details and some feelings

I feel uncomfortable shifting to solutions discussed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change synthesis summary report without spending some time with what comes up for me when considering the changes to the world we live in, changes that will occur in my lifetime possibly, certainly in the lifetime of people I know.

I choose two predictions to look at in a little more detail.

In Southern Europe, climate change is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydropower potential, summer tourism and, in general, crop productivity.

NASA posted on this:

“There is some evidence that rainfall patterns already may be changing,” [Drew] Shindell added. “Much of the Mediterranean area, North Africa and the Middle East rapidly are becoming drier. If the trend continues as expected, the consequences may be severe in only a couple of decades. These changes could pose significant water resource challenges to large segments of the population.”

On RealClimate, a professor posted about going for a vacation on the Med:

The 10-hour flight from Chicago to Istanbul often inspires passengers to romanticize about Istanbul, both tourists and natives alike. Istanbul is the city of legends, forests, and the Bosphorus. It is an open museum of millennia of history with archeological and cultural remnants surrounded by green lush gardens. It is the place where east meets west; where blue meets green; where the great Mevlâna’s inviting words whisper in the wind “Come, come again, whoever you are, come!”

So you can imagine our collective horror as the plane started circling Istanbul and we saw a dry, desolate, dusty city without even a hint of green anywhere.

Temperatures reached 46 C (115 F) this year, and Turkish farmers lost billions of dollars in crops.

Tuz Golu
Tuz Golu lost half its water volume in recent decades.

The North Atlantic Oscillation appears to have moved into a positive phase:

a low pressure system prevails over Iceland and a high pressure system over the Azores. This causes cooler northern seas, stronger winter storms across the Atlantic Ocean, warm wet winters in northern Europe, and cold and dry winters in Canada and Greenland. However, this also causes less rain and reduced stream flow in southeastern Europe and the Middle East. In general, when NAO is in a positive phase, the Mediterranean region receives less precipitation.

Not mentioned are changes expected in my neck of the woods:
Precipitation changes
Precipitation changes (Science subscription needed)

If these models are correct, the levels of aridity of the recent multiyear drought or the Dust Bowl and the 1950s droughts will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades.

The authors define American Southwest as land areas of the US and Mexico between 125°W and 95°W and 25°N and 40°N. San Francisco is near the northern end at 38°N, and San Diego at 33°N is in the middle. Dust bowl conditions refer to 0.09 mm/day, just over 1 inch/year.

Dust bowl
Dust bowl conditions in the US Midwest in the 1930s arose with a cool tropical Pacific. See here for more information and animations on that time.

Meanwhile in Latin America, according to the IPCC report:

By mid century, increases in temperature and associated decreases in soil water are projected to lead to gradual replacement of tropical forest by savanna in eastern Amazonia. Semi-arid vegetation will tend to be replaced by arid-land vegetation.

Manu Cloud Forest in Peru
Manu Cloud Forest in Peru

scarlet macaw
scarlet macaw

Tapirs are gone or threatened in some areas but in Amazonia, they are only under pressure.

A Science Express article, Climate Change, Deforestation, and the Fate of the Amazon, depicts a likely decrease in precipitation during the dry season, combined with increased temperatures and evaporation, producing a seasonal water deficit. This water deficit will be exacerbated by the loss of forest along with their contribution to rain.

The forest biome of Amazonia is one of Earth’s greatest biological treasures, and a major component of the Earth system. This century, it faces the dual threats of deforestation and stress from climate change.

So how do we feel about this?
I hope to hear from readers.

When I posted on IPCC’s list of changes, my eyes glazed over. At some point, I stopped reading. I didn’t want to read more.

I struggled to describe what it means to me. At times this has been easy for me, but today it is not. I intended originally to remember for this post what I have felt in the past, but decided against it.

I feel like just one of many Hans Brinkers.

Meanwhile the tsunami, barely visible, is about to break.

tsunami in deep water
tsunami in deep water — the signs where I live are subtle, but the waves will break soon.

One Response to “IPCC Synthesis Report–some details and some feelings”

  1. Caroline W says:

    You are seeking expression of feelings in response to the IPCC Summary. I want to offer my appreciation for the entry and the pictures you chose. The effect is of a kind of Haiku. The posting is silent, picture-driven, low-key intense, if it is not absurd to say so. You choose to end on the tsunami in deep water image.

    Being tossed around by water is a powerful image.

    The earth will respond, climatically, to the geo-biologically intense force of the human. But, we can look forward and describe this, picture it – and we may be able to take corrective action. This is the greatest test of what it means to be human – which began all those tens of thousands of years ago with the capacity to begin anticipating the future. Remembering the past, as well.

    The capacity to speak about future, about past, launched us irreversibly onto the path which ends up with where we are now. Now we have to activate those powers at a new level – and the symbolism has become a highly technical system of communication between scientists, technologists, sensing machines of all kinds – and the rest of us.

    My sense is that being able to envisage the tsunami is working its way through societies now, and in the next few years a new willingness to take appropriate actions and new kinds of decisions will unfold, rapidly. For example: to stop resisting nuclear energy and being so frustratingly black and white in our thinking and acting. It will happen through people becoming more capable of discerning where the real risks lie. The task now, as the tsunami swirls, is to do all in our power to cultivate the conversations and refuse to be bullied by the dogmatists of the environmental ‘movement’ (if it could be called such)