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Climate Change Impact More Extensive than Previously Thought
Date: Monday, March 05 2007


Climate Change Impact More Extensive than Previously Thought

By Volker Mrasek

Global climate change is happening faster than previously believed and its impact is worse than expected, information from an as-yet unpublished draft of the long-awaited second part of a United Nations report obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE reveals. No region of the planet will be spared and some will be hit especially hard.

Is the world's weather already out of control? Is the pollution of the past decades having an impact on the present? That's exactly what the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fears: Human influences over the last 30 years "have had a recognizable effect on many physical and biological systems," write the authors of the as yet unreleased second part of the 2007 global climate change report.

According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is convinced global warming is already making the world sweat. At least that's the gist of the "Summary for Policymakers" from the group made up of hundreds of scientists.

The second part of the report is to be presented in April in Brussels after final discussions with government representatives from around the globe. The meta-study is certain to have a major political impact on the ongoing debate about climate change.

Mounting evidence: Climate change is happening now

The main conclusion of the report is that climate change is already having a profound effect on all the continents and on many of the Earth's ecosystems. The draft presents a long list of evidence:

Glacial lakes are increasing in both size and number, potentially leading to deadly floods
Permafrost in mountainous regions and at high latitudes is warming increasing the danger of landslides.
As the temperature of rivers and lakes rises, their thermal stratification and water quality is changing.
River currents, affected by melting glaciers and ice, are speeding up during the spring.
Springtime is starting earlier, causing plants to bloom earlier and changing the migrations of birds.
Many plants and animals are expanding their habitats into mountainous regions and higher latitudes that are becoming milder.

The authors of the report have sifted through some 30,000 data sets from more than 70 international studies documenting changes to water circulation, to cryospheres (ice zones), as well as to flora and fauna over a period of at least 20 years.

Related SPIEGEL ONLINE links:
Photo Gallery: The Four Regions Most Affected by Climate Change,5538,19791,00.html
Antarctic Ice Study: Refrigeration System for the Earth's Oceans Threatens to Break Down (03/02/2007),1518,469495,00.html
Hot Air: A Europe Divided over Climate Policy (02/17/2007),1518,467367,00.html
Bad News for the Planet: Humans Responsible For Climate Change, Says UN Report (02/02/2007),1518,463888,00.html
SPIEGEL 360: Our Climate Change Coverage,1518,k- 6975,00.html
UN Climate Change Report: The Main Findings on Global Warming (02/02/2007),1518,464008,00.html
The Eelpout Index: A Small Fish Becomes an Indicator of Global Warming (01/18/2007),1518,459995,00.html
The Warming Climate: Historically Hot in 2007 (01/04/2007),1518,457759,00.html
Climate Research in the Death Zone: Why Is Mt. Kilimanjaro Melting? (02/20/2006),1518,403035,00.html

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[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on March 7, 2007]

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