UH researchers take part in UN climate report

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Severe droughts, massive flooding, and record-setting heat waves — those are several of the extreme weather events that are the consequences of human activity, according to several hundred scientists who participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

Three University of Hawaii Manoa researchers were among the lead authors of the Fifth Assessment Report, which deals with the physical science basis of climate change.

“Global warming to a large degree, in particular since the 1950s, can be explained in terms of human drivers. Mostly CO2, but also methane and land use changes,” said Axel Timmermann, UH professor of oceanography.

“The projections all show that sea level is going to increase during the next century. By the end of the century, we could have levels that are one to two feet where we are now,” said Mark Merrifield, UH professor of oceanography.

Merrifield says if that happens, flooding will be more frequent in parts of Hawaii.

“Not just spring tides, but most high tides would be a situation where we might get flooding of Kakaako, over wash of the roads, or problems of even using the beach at Waikiki,” Merrifield said.

Skeptics have long said the panel ignores opposing research and the only reason it exists is to produce evidence supporting the idea of man-made climate change.

But researchers argue they are 95 percent sure that humans are the reason for an apparent rise in global average temperature and they predict global temperatures will continue to rise if behaviors don’t change.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of mankind,” Timmermann said.

They say all they’re doing is providing scientific evidence to decision makers so they can plan for the future.

“If we do nothing and if we keep going the way we’re going, sea level will be something like two to three feet higher than it is today by the end of the century,” Merrifield said.

For more information on the report, visit this website.

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