Scientific evidence that can be used in litigation

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The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been very helpful in solving court cases on climate change, as this scientific information shows the scope, effects, and causes of climate change. It is important to cite and encourage the courts to view the IPCC reports as a respected authority on climate science, so that arguments made in defense of the environment cannot be dismissed.

Also see Attribution Science

IPCC Assessment Reports[edit]

The IPCC periodically releases reports summarizing the scientific consensus on the last climate science. These reports include both the latest hard science about climate change and its impacts, as well as information on mitigating climate change.

The latest Assessment Report to be released was the Fifth Assessment Report, released in 2014. The report on the physical science details the scientific understanding of climate change at the time.

The Sixth Assessment Report is expected to be fully relesased in 2022. The report on physical sciences which will provide an updated summary of the latest climate science is expected to by released in July 2021.

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report[edit]

Released in 2013, the physical science report from the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report summarizes the scientific understanding of climate change at that time. Below are links and summaries of some of the key sections.

Observations: Atmosphere and Surface[edit]

This paper addresses the scientific evidence of climate change from the observations of the atmosphere and the surface has grown significantly in recent years. This report contains studies explaining changes in:

  • Atmospheric composition
  • Radiation budgets
  • Temperature
  • Hydrological cycle
  • Extreme events and atmospheric circulation
  • Variability patterns

Article Recommendation: 'The Rise of Global Atmospheric CO2, Surface Temperature, and Sea Level from Emissions' [1]

Observations: Ocean[edit]

These studies address the issue of change in temperature and heat content. You can learn more specifically about:

  • Changes upper ocean has warmed
  • Salinity and freshwater content
  • Ocean surface fluxes
  • Water-mass properties
  • Ocean circulation
  • Sea level change, including extremes
  • Ocean biogeochemical changes, including anthropogenic ocean acidification

Article Recommendation: 'Attributing Ocean Acidification to Major Carbon Producers'[2]

'Tracing Fossil Fuel Companies' Contribution to Climate Change and Ocean Acidification' by the Union of Concerned Scientists [3]

Sea Level Change[edit]

This document considers changes in global mean sea level, regional sea level, sea level extremes, and waves. It also contains:

  • Projections of Components and Models of Sea Level Change
  • Past Sea Level Change
  • Contributions to Global Mean Sea Level Rise during the Instrumental Period
  • Projected Contributions to Global Mean Sea Level
  • Projections of Global Mean Sea Level Rise
  • Regional Sea Level Changes
  • Projections of 21st Century Sea Level Extremes and Waves

Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional[edit]

This study addresses atmospheric temperatures. More than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. The consistency of observed and modeled changes across the climate system, including warming of the atmosphere and ocean, sea level rise, ocean acidification and changes in the water cycle, the cryosphere, and climate extremes points to a large-scale warming, resulting primarily from anthropogenic increases. You can learn more specifically about:

  • Evaluation of detection and attribution methodologies
  • Atmosphere and surface
  • Changes in ocean properties
  • Cryosphere
  • Extremes
  • Multi-century to millennia perspective
  • Implications for climate system properties and projections

Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change[edit]

This document assesses the scientific literature on projected changes in major climate phenomena and, more specifically, their relevance for future change in regional climates, contingent on global mean temperatures continue to rise. It also says that Regional climates are the complex result of processes that vary strongly with location and so respond differently to changes in global scale influences. More specifically it includes:

  • Monsoon systems
  • Tropical phenomena
  • El Niño- southern oscillation
  • Annular and dipolar modes
  • Large-scale storm systems
  • Additional phenomena of relevance
  • Future regional climate change

Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycle[edit]

This document addresses the biogeochemical cycles of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). The three greenhouse gases (GHGs) have increased in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times, and this increase is the main driving cause of climate change. The increase of CO2, CH4, and N2O is caused by anthropogenic emissions from the use of fossil fuel as a source of energy and from land use and land use changes, in particular agriculture. The observed change in the atmospheric concentration of CO2, CH4, and N2O results from the dynamic balance between anthropogenic emissions, and the perturbation of natural processes that leads to a partial removal of these gases from the atmosphere. You can learn more specifically about:

  • Variations in carbon and other biogeochemical cycles before the fossil fuel era
  • Evolution of biogeochemical cycles since the Industrial Revolution
  • Projections of future carbon and other biogeochemical cycles
  • Potential effects of carbon dioxide removal methods
  • Solar radiation management on the carbon cycle

Evaluation of Climate Models[edit]

This document includes models for the representation of biogeochemical cycles important to climate change. These models allow for policy-relevant calculations such as the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compatible with a specified climate stabilization target. This evaluation is based on recent internationally coordinated model experiments, including simulations of historic and paleo climate, specialized experiments designed to provide insight into key climate processes and feedbacks and regional climate downscaling. You can learn more specifically about:

  • Climate models and their characteristics
  • Techniques for assessing model performance
  • Experimental strategies in support of climate model evaluation
  • Simulation of recent and longer-term records in global models
  • Simulation of variability and extremes
  • Downscaling and simulation of regional-scale climate
  • Climate sensitivity and climate feedback
  • Relating model performance to credibility of model applications

Health Impacts of Climate Change[edit]

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has published quantitative assessments of the health impacts of climate change. The 2014 WHO report concluded that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050; 38,000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48,000 due to diarrhoea, 60,000 due to malaria, and 95,000 due to childhood undernutrition. The WHO finds that climate change will continue to disproportionately impact children in developing countries, but that other population groups will also be increasingly affected.

Additional Resources[edit]

References[edit]