IPCC WG2 impacts report released: fire, floods and rising seas in all our futures

By Gareth Renowden 31/03/2014 17


After the usual run of late nights and argument, the IPCC has released the second part of its fifth report — the Working Group 2 report on climate impacts and risks management. Commenting on the report, VUW climate scientist Professor Tim Naish said “this latest report makes it quite clear that New Zealand is under-prepared and faces a significant ‘adaptation deficit’ in the context of the projected impacts and risks from global average warming of +2 to 4°C by the end of the century.”

The IPCC identifies eight key regional risks for New Zealand and Australia:

  • significant impacts on coral reefs in Australia as oceans warm and acidify
  • loss of montane ecosystems in Australia, as climate warms and snow lines rise
  • increased frequency of and intensity of flooding in NZ and Australia
  • water resources in Southern Australia will be under increased pressure
  • more intense heatwaves will bring increased death rates and infrastructure damage
  • increasing risks of damaging wildfires in New Zealand and southern Australia
  • increased risks to coastal infrastructure and ecosystems from sea level rise
  • risk of severe drying in parts of Australia could hit agricultural production

For New Zealand, extreme weather events such as flooding and heatwaves are expected to increase in frequency and severity, and rainfall is expected to increase on the already wet west coast and decrease in the east and north east. Sea level rise of up to one metre is expected to cause significant problems for coastal communities.

VUW’s Jim Renwick points to sea level rise as a big issue:

Every 10cm of rise triples the risk of a given inundation event, and we are expecting something like a metre of rise this century. That would mean today’s 1-in-100 year event occurs at least annually at many New Zealand coastal locations. New Zealand has a great deal of valuable property and infrastructure close to the coast that will be increasingly at risk as time goes on.

The Summary for Policymakers of the WG2 report is available here (pdf), and the final draft of the full report can be downloaded from this page. The Australia and New Zealand chapter (25) is here (pdf) and the Small Islands (Ch 29) here (pdf).

A huge amount of coverage of the report’s findings has already hit the net, and there will be more to come. Check out The Guardian‘s take on the five key points in the report, The Conversation’s examination of climate health risks, Graham Readfearn’s commentary on 25 years of IPCC warnings, and Peter Griffin’s look at the prospects for agriculture. I’ll have a post about the NZ political response to the report tomorrow.


17 Responses to “IPCC WG2 impacts report released: fire, floods and rising seas in all our futures”

  • i wonder sometimes about the naiveté of climate scientists. Do they understand that remarks such as “x amount of heat” or “y amount of sea level” increase is “already built in” has the implication to many lay people that mitigation is a waste of time. Some will genuinely believe this to be the case and others, for political reasons will encourage that response.

  • Nothing has been proposed that would mitigate the climate change (myth) .
    Trading carbon schemes will increase (JP Morgans) wealth and create poverty.
    No evidence has been provided by the IPCC to prove global warming by man’s C02 emissions. It is true here is no way to mitigate climate change unless you plan to control the sun, oceans, polar shift and water vapor .

  • Another wannabe Act Party groundling perchance?

    The IPCC wasn’t formed strictly speaking to investigate and prove any of these things as you well know.
    You are simply dog whistling to the uninformed and to thereby encourage doubt. This has always been the deniers strategy as Naomi Oreskes has regularly stated. As an agency of the UN, the IPCC has a clearly defined purpose.
    “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization for the purpose of assessing “the scientific, technical and Msocioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. It does not carry out new research nor does it monitor climate-related data. It bases its assessment mainly on published and peer reviewed scientific technical literature.” [1] The goal of these assessments is to inform international policy and negotiations on climate-related issues.”

  • I see you are still into name calling Stuart – your go to strategy when you can’t argue facts. Grow up.
    Reading WG2 report, it states:”Sea level rise is a significant risk for Australia and New Zealand (very high confidence) due to intensifying coastal development and the location of population centres and infrastructure (see 25.3). Under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), global mean sea level would likely rise by 0.53 to 0.97 m by 2100, relative to 1986-2005, whereas with stringent mitigation (RCP2.6), the likely rise by 2100 would be 0.28 to 0.6 m (medium confidence).”
    Yet later on states,
    Aus and NZ: Satellite estimates of regional SLR for 1993-2009 are significantly higher than those for 1920-2000, partly reflecting climatic variability72,73,76,77 NZ: Allowing for glacial isostatic adjustment, absolute observed SLR is around 2.0mm/yr73,78
    So the sea level rise has got to jump to about 11mm a year to meet the Jim Renwick prediction, despite the fact there isn’t enough coal in the world to get to RCP8.5.
    Yet again, the data doesn’t support the prediction.
    And quoting Naomi Oreskes as your expert source shows how glib your argument really is.

  • It is important to note that the Royal Society report is a rehash of the SPM for WG2. There is no real science about climate change itself in WG2. All of that is in WG1. In the passage I quoted above from WG2, note that it is only medium confidence. If you bury into another part of the document, you find this means about 50% (33-66%) , in other words, a coin toss. Now look at the passage again. To what part does the 50% probability apply? With regards to the way the uncertainties are conveyed, someone who is a lot better writer than me wrote about the process
    “It’s an example of what I call language creep that seems endemic if not epidemic in climate science. A tentative scientific assertion is made deep in a paper, but with caveats and some sort of confidence guestimate. By the time a summary of the paper for policy makers is done or the press release for it is issued, all uncertainty has been magically banished as though it never existed. Phrases like conceivably might happen successively mutate into probably could happen and finally arrive at will happen.
    All those little adjustments to wording and fudging over the uncertainties are all driven by the science is settled mantra, because having to admit they’re not sure, never mind they simply don’t have a clue, might bring down the whole house of cards. When you look into the detail of so much climate science, the uncertainties are large, the climate models are basically crap from any predictive perspective and overlooking and ignoring those problems will neither bottom them out nor make them go away.
    Climate science is actually in its infancy. At this stage, even calling it a science is a bit of a reach. There are simply too many unknowns, unknown unknowns and some of the vital enablers such as a robust mathematical treatment of things like turbulence are still a long way off.
    Words are important, because that’s the language we use to process pattern and order in the world about us. If you’re too sloppy or lazy to use language precisely, then that’s the way you’re going to think; sloppily and lazily.”
    That is the issue – everything is massaged to ensure it stays on-message and inconvenient contradictions are disappeared.

  • Chris… After your convincing blather about gas and hydro generation being base load and how you have converted me to your true religion of fosil fuels… Can you advise me where I might sign up for a small stipend payment for making retarded comments on this blog ? Much appreciated.. PS getting rid of the solar panels in the weekend…

  • I see Stuart that rather than discuss issues on the actual comments sections of the posts, you have taken to hiding them in irrelevant ones and taking to ad homs as your only message. If you think I am wrong in any of the stuff I posted, please post what you think is correct and the source. If you can’t, please grow up and shut up.

  • Sorry in the above post I meant Justin but I’m not sure if he is a different person to Stuart, as their writing style is the same – a lot of smoke and noise but no substance.

    • Yes, some have said of Chris that “He is a sucker for the precepts of the Koch brothers”…. Now for ten points please rearrange and shorten this sentence

  • Actually all of this is a distraction. We need to begin acting.

    The IPCC report that we need to read, discuss and act on is the third report. What we can do!

    There are many people acting now. Each step is a step forward and improves our chances. And many of these are improving lives and making money. We need action. The sooner we do the better.

    I suggest looking here to start: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg3/ and in the New Zealand context here: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/expert-advice/papers/yr2016/mitigation-options-for-new-zealand/

    And if you are concerned with economics, I suggest you begin here: http://newclimateeconomy.report/

    Have a good day.

  • Hi Chris… Howzit going man? Some people were protesting against Coal in Newcastle today…. A lot of them were arrested… Fossil Fuel free world and all that.. Pffff! But Chris I am a bit confused now.. Surely not of these protesters are all dumberer than you? Also, about removing my solar panels… if I cause a short circuit taking them off my house is it possible they may meltdown and release radioactive material or could they trigger a long term underground fire thus also releasing pollutants? Please confirm… Anyway, all good here with me teacher… Thanks again for the heads up on how hydro and gas are base load. Also, on which way water flows along the Waikato… That’s probably why I had to leave MRP after five years cause I didn’t understand Waipapa only had one turbine rather than three and this single turbine had to run all the time…. Take care buddy… Gunna review your blather above soon…

  • Justin (and Stuart)
    Thank you for proving my point. Rather than dispute what I said, it is speculation about what I might do for a job.
    With regard to my comments about Waipapa, for the last month it has been running most of the time over a very small generation range with one or two changes a day. That is it is base loaded in the old System Control terminology. That does not mean fully loaded. Though no doubt if you had stayed at MRP longer, you would have learnt that.

  • No Chris, you were trying say that it is only capable of running as base-load….. I am saying that it is theoretically possible (that means it is technically capable of, not what it is currently doing at the moment in time when you happen to check it) to run the entire Waikato System in minimal generation “dribble mode” while wind injection is high – thus essentially using Taupo as a Wind Storage. The reason MRP don’t do this is because of their market position (i.e. MRP don’t own any Wind or other intermittent generation) not because the system is designed as a “base-load” system technically…. This may be of interest to you after you finish with your Alan Jones (I just make facts up as I go along podcast download) … http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/base-load-power-a-myth-used-to-defend-the-fossil-fuel-industry-96007

  • No Justin
    In response to your comment
    ” FYI – the actual bottle neck on the Waikato system is Waipapa Dam which has Mareatai upstream with its twin power stations (hardly ever operating at full capacity), there is plenty of scope for storage / more peaking within the Waikato system esp if a small allowance for spilling and some slight changes to ramp rates allowances were made”

    I replied several posts down
    “Maraetai 2 was built as a peaking station. Waipapa is baseloaded. How are you going to increase storage?”
    my comments were because the storage in Waipapa is only 11 cumec days and Maraetai not much more at 33 cumec days.
    They do twoshift Waipapa at times in conjunction with Maraetai, but a lot of their operation is relatively baseload. Look at the generation data.
    I suppose you know there is no wind generation at present so the DC load is right up and a lot of coal and gas burn because they can’t get water to the Waikato dams. Doesn’t match your theory, does it.
    With regards to the link, I went to the Australian Power Workshop a couple of months ago and heard a totally different story. That was actually senior engineers talking, not some journaliasts spin on a speaker

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