Science Assessment
and Analysis

Climate science is highly complex and the policy implications are not always clear. We make the latest climate science easily accessible for stakeholders in the international climate change arena.

 ©Sarah Depper, CC BY 2.0
©Sarah Depper, CC BY 2.0

We synthesise and advance scientific knowledge in the area of climate change science, policy and impacts to make it easily accessible for stakeholders in the international climate change arena. This includes conducting our own research (for example, to evaluate the uncertainties in climate science associated with potential mitigation pathways, project sea-level rise or evaluate impacts and risks at different levels of warming) as well as bringing together and communicating the findings of the available scientific literature and providing the context needed to understand their implications. Projections of future climate change are subject to uncertainty, as they depend on a range of developments that cannot be foreseen (e.g. emission pathways). Also, there remain important limitations in the understanding and the modeling of some key processes of the climate system. Much of our work therefore focused on understanding these key process and the probabilities associated with climate impact projections.

Latest

It's a given of climate change that greenhouse gases emitted today will shape the world for future generations. But new research underscores just how long those effects will last. A striking new study published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications suggests that sea-level rise—one of the biggest consequences of global warming—will still be happening 300 years from now, even if humans stop emitting greenhouse gases before the end of the current century.  
Peaking global CO2 emissions as soon as possible is crucial for limiting the risks of sea level rise, even if global warming is limited to well below 2°C. A study now published in the journal Nature Communications analyses for the first time the sea level legacy until 2300 within the constraints of the Paris Agreement.  
The world is far off course from its goals in cutting greenhouse gas emissions — and research published Tuesday illustrates one of the most striking implications of this. Namely, it finds that for every five years in the present that we continue to put off strong action on climate change, the ocean could rise an additional eight inches by the year 2300 — a dramatic illustration of just how much decisions in the present will affect distant future generations.  
A report prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research and Climate Analytics says that in Bangladesh 40% of productive land will be lost in the southern region by the 2080s due to sea level rise. Bangladesh is already experiencing observable impacts of climate change.  
COP23 briefing - Limiting warming to 1.5°C is of paramount importance to protect the oceans. This briefing provides an overview of the latest science on key risks for ocean systems including from sea- level rise, ocean acidification and impacts on coral reefs and other marine and coastal ecosystems.  
We can only limit sea level rise to around half a meter by 2100 if cumulative carbon emissions stay below 850 gigatonnes and coal is nearly phased out by 2050. If emissions continue unchecked, oceans could rise 55 per cent more than previously thought – by around 130cm in 2100, according to a paper published in Environmental Research Letters today.  

Publications

Sea-level rise is a major consequence of climate change that will continue long after emissions of greenhouse gases have stopped. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims at reducing climate-related risks by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and limiting global-mean temperature increase. This study quantifies the effect of these constraints on global sea-level rise until 2300, including Antarctic ice-sheet instabilities.  
This paper incorporates latest findings on Antarctic ice sheet dynamics into new sea level rise modelling, and pairs it with the new generation of scenarios – Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) and compares them with outcomes for the previous generation of scenarios - Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), used in the last IPCC Assessment (AR5). It finds that without any mitigation, sea levels could rise by an average of 132 cm in 2100 relative to the 1986-2005 mean.  
This article is a first comprehensive assessment of key climate impacts for the policy relevant warming levels of 1.5 °C and 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. It finds substantial impact differences in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, regional water availability and agricultural yields, sea-level rise and risk of coral reef loss. The increase in climate impacts is particularly pronounced in tropical and sub-tropical regions.  

Projects

Science and policy to assist and support SIDSs and LDCs to negotiate a strong international climate regime, enabling low carbon development and supporting adaptation needs.  
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