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International Day for Biological Diversity: Biodiversity and Climate Change 22 May 2007 Institute of Jamaica, Kingston. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change and some of the findings of the AR4. Jeffery Spooner (Climate Branch Head)

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International Day for Biological Diversity:

Biodiversity and Climate Change22 May 2007

Institute of Jamaica, Kingston

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Climate Change and some of the findings of the AR4

Jeffery Spooner (Climate Branch Head)

Meteorological Service, Jamaica

Jeffery Spooner (Climate Branch Head)

Meteorological Service, Jamaica


Introduction to the Intergovernmental Panel

  • on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • The IPCC: An inter-governmental body of scientists:
    • Provides Scientific, Technical and Socio-economic advice to the world community, and in particular to the 170-plus Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
    • Open to all Members of UNEP and of WMO
    • Has completed 3 Assessment Report so far
    • In the process of completing the 4th Assessment Report (Entitled Climate Change 2007)

Climate Change 2007:

  • Working Group 1: Assesses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change
  • Working Group 11: Assesses the vulnerability of socio- economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it: (Small Islands Developing States are the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt)
  • Working Group 111: Assesses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.

Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science BasisWorking Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report

  • Since the TAR, progress in understanding how climate is changing in space and in time has been gained through:
      • Improvements and extensions of numerous datasets and data analyses
          • Broader geographical coverage
          • Better understanding of uncertainties and
          • A wider variety of measurements

Direct Observations of Recent Climate Change has

  • shown the following:
  • Warming of the climate

system is unequivocal, as

is now evident from

observations of increases

in global average air and

ocean temperatures,

widespread melting of

snow and ice, and rising

global mean sea level.


Global average air temperature updated 100-year shows

linear trend of 0.74 [0.56 to 0.92] oC for 1906-2005. This is larger than corresponding trend of 0.6 [0.4 to 0.8] oC for 1901-2000 given in TAR.

  • Average ocean temperature increased to depths of at least 3000 m – ocean has absorbed 80% of heat added: Leads greater sea-water expansion and Sea Level Rise
  • At continental, regional, and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include:
    • Changes in Arctic temperatures and ice
    • Widespread changes in precipitation amounts
    • Changes in ocean salinity
    • Changes in wind patterns and different aspects of extreme weather events, including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones

Changes in Precipitation - Increased Drought

and increase flooding events

  • Significantly increased precipitation in eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe and northern and central Asia.
  • The frequency of heavy precipitation events has increased over most land areas - consistent with warming and increases of atmospheric water vapour
  • Drying in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia
  • More intense and longer droughts observed since the 1970s, particularly in the tropics and subtropics.

Caribbean Precipitation

  • Peterson and Taylor et al., (2002) shows:
  • That the maximum number of consecutive dry days is decreasing and the number of heavy rainfall events is increasing – not statistically significant.
  • Peterson and Taylor et al., (2002) found:
  • No statistically significant trends in mean precipitation amounts from 1950’s to 2000
  • No significant evidence for changes in precipitation in the Caribbean.
  • Neelin et al., (2006) note:
  • A modest but statistically significant summer drying trend over recent decades in the Caribbean in several observational data sets.

Other changes in Extreme Events

  • Widespread changes in extreme temperatures observed
  • Cold days, cold nights and frost less frequent
  • Hot days, hot nights, and heat waves more frequent
  • Observational evidence for an increase of intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970, correlated with increases of tropical sea surface temperatures

Observed Caribbean Temperature Change

  • Peterson and Taylor, et al, 2002:Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 107, No. D21, 4601
    • 1950’s to 2000
    • % time that maximum and minimum temperature were very high is increasing,
    • % that maximum and minimum temperature were very low is decreasing.
      • number of very warm days and nights is increasing
      • number of very cool days and nights is decreasing.
  • Yes, there is evidence that temperature has been increasing

Recent analysis of Caribbean temperature by Peterson and Taylor et al (2002) show increasing trend


Marked increase after 1994

North Atlantic hurricanes have increased with SSTs




Understanding and Attributing Climate Change

  • Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.
  • This is an advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”.
  • Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns

Projections of Future Changes in Climate

  • Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century.
  • Best estimate and assessed likelihood range for future temperature projections for first time are similar to the TAR but not directly comparable
  • For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios
  • Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.

Earlier IPCC projections of 0.15 to 0.3 oC per decade can now be compared with observed values of 0.2 oC

  • There is now higher confidence in projected patterns of warming and other regional-scale features, including changes in wind patterns, precipitation, and some aspects of extremes and of ice
  • So Very likely that hot extremes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent
  • Also Likely that future tropical cyclones will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds and more heavy precipitation

Less confidence in decrease of total number Extra-tropical storm tracks projected to move pole-ward with consequent changes in wind, precipitation, and temperature patterns

  • Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized
  • Temperatures in excess of 1.9 to 4.6°C warmer than pre-industrial sustained for millennia…eventual melt of the Greenland ice sheet. Would lead raise sea level by 7 m. Comparable to 125,000 years ago.


  • The science has proven with much more confidence that many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century.

So we need to act and act now

While Jamaica’s initial national communication to the UNFCCC has an initial investigation of potential vulnerabilities it is clear that there is a need for further work in the area of vulnerability with regards to climate change. There is a considerable amount of infrastructure located on the coast, with the international airports, seaports and a number of industries being located in areas that would be extremely sensitive to climate change.


Investigation of the socio-economic vulnerabilities in all sectors including our biodiversity is a must

  • The effects of and understanding of climate change, particularly
  • vulnerability and adaptation, need further analysis to fully
  • address our concerns
  • The need is there for the formulation of a comprehensive
  • adaptation plan for the entire Island
  • The need for Public Awareness and Education must be key in
  • any adaptation plan
  • All these I am sure will be addressed in the preparation of the 2nd National Communication to the UNFCCC and as such all major stakeholders are urged to get on board.
  • “The time to act is Now. Delay is not an option”.


Thanks for listening


Any Questions / Comments??

Meteorological Service, Jamaica