Prompt climate action needs to be taken according to the new major scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The AR6 WGI Report provides a full and comprehensive assessment of the physical science basis of climate change that builds on the previous assessments and these Special Reports and consider new information and knowledge from the recent scientific literature, including longer observational datasets, new scenarios and model results.

For the first time, the Sixth Assessment Report provides a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, including a focus on useful information that can inform risk assessment, adaptation, and other decision-making, and a new framework that helps translate physical changes in the climate – heat, cold, rain, drought, snow, wind, coastal flooding and more – into what they mean for society and ecosystems.

We are witnessing changes in the climate system, resulting from past, present and future human activities, which will continue long into the future (centuries to millennia) even with strong reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  Some aspects of the climate system, including the terrestrial biosphere, deep ocean and the cryosphere, respond much more slowly than surface temperatures to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. As a result, there are already substantial committed changes associated with past greenhouse gas emissions. For example, global mean sea level will continue to rise for thousands of years, even if future CO2 emissions are reduced to net zero and global warming halted, as excess energy due to past emissions continues to propagate into the deep ocean and as glaciers and ice sheets continue to melt.

Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions –  which will all increase with further warming.  These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans. For example:

  • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.
  • For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.

Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate