AER research contributes to international report on climate, oceans, and the cryosphere

AER research contributes to international report on climate, oceans, and the cryosphere


Scientific analyses conducted by AER researchers have contributed significantly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), published on September 25, 2019. The Special Report summarizes, for both the scientific community and worldwide governments, the latest knowledge about observed and projected changes in the oceans and cryosphere (see Summary for Policymakers for an overview). The ocean and cryosphere (including ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice, and snow and permafrost covered regions) are critical indicators of climate change due to their dominant role in the uptake and redistribution of carbon dioxide, heat and freshwater. They are also responsible for many climate change-related human impacts, for example those resulting from changes in sea level and water supply, altered weather patterns, and effects on tourism, trade, and transport.

The 1000+ page report contains critical information concerning the spatial pattern of ocean warming, carbon uptake and redistribution, fisheries, water supply, and changes in tropical cyclones (among many other topics). AER research contributions to this report focus on the topic of observed and future changes in sea level driven by various factors, including changes in ocean circulation, ice sheet melting, and ocean heat uptake. More specifically, the research cited by SROCC includes analyses (see papers referenced below) that: 1) uncover the underlying physical processes responsible for sea level changes observed by tide gauges and satellites; 2) model historical and future changes in sea level, 3) develop probabilistic frameworks that account for uncertainty in sea level projections and 4) demonstrate a link between a rapidly changing Arctic and colder mid-latitude winters.

The SROCC assessment is expected to inform decisions by the international community and various levels of government relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. It will be assimilated into the broader IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), expected to be finalized in 2021. AR6 will undoubtedly be informed by additional cutting-edge research performed by AER.


References in the report

Cohen, J., H. Ye and J. Jones, 2015: Trends and variability in rain-on-snow events. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(17), 7115-7122, doi:10.1002/2015GL065320. 

Cohen, J., K. Pfeiffer and J. A. Francis, 2018: Warm Arctic episodes linked with increased frequency of extreme winter weather in the United States. Nature Communications, 9 (1), 869, 41doi:10.1038/s41467-018-02992-9.

Cohen, J. L. et al., 2012: Arctic warming, increasing snow cover and widespread boreal winter cooling. Environmental Research Letters, 7 (1), doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/1/014007. 

Cohen, J. et al., 2014: Recent Arctic amplification and extreme mid-latitude weather. Nature Geoscience, 7, 627, doi:10.1038/ngeo2234.

Little, C. M. et al., 2015: Joint projections of US East Coast sea level and storm surge. Nature Climate Change, 5 (12), 1114-1120, doi:10.1038/nclimate2801.

Forget, G. and R. M. Ponte, 2015: The partition of regional sea level variability. Progress in Oceanography, 137, 173-195.

Little, C. M., C. G. Piecuch and R. M. Ponte, 2017: On the relationship between the meridional overturning circulation, alongshore wind stress, and United States East Coast sea level in the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 122 (6), 4554-4568, doi:10.1002/2017jc012713.

Little, C. M. et al., 2015b: Uncertainty in twenty-first-century CMIP5 sea level projections. Journal of Climate, 28 (2), 838-852.

Little, C. M., N. M. Urban and M. Oppenheimer, 2013: Probabilistic framework for assessing the ice sheet contribution to sea level change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110 (9), 3264-3269.

Stammer, D., A. Cazenave, R. M. Ponte and M. E. Tamisiea, 2013: Causes for contemporary regional sea level changes. Annual Review of Marine Science, 5, 21-46.

Wunsch, C., P. Heimbach, R. Ponte and I. Fukumori, 2009: The global general circulation of the ocean estimated by the ECCO-Consortium. Oceanography, 22 (2), 88-103, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2009.41.