TAG: GS 3: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
THE CONTEXT: As per the State of the Cryosphere 2023 report, nearly all tropical glaciers, most mid-latitude glaciers and polar regions will disappear even if the world manages to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial era.
- The State of the Cryosphere 2023 Report was released by the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI), an organization that brings together scientists from around the world to study the cryosphere and its impacts on climate change.
- The report delves into the profound impact of rising global temperatures on the Earth’s cryosphere.
- It emphasizes the critical need to limit global warming to 1.5°C to safeguard this essential frozen component of the planet.
STATE OF THE CRYOSPHERE:
- Impact of Temperature Rise:
- The report underscores that even with a 2°C temperature increase above preindustrial levels; the cryosphere faces dire consequences.
- Most tropical and mid-latitude glaciers, along with polar regions, will vanish, causing severe ice loss.
- Regional Effects:
- The Himalayas are predicted to lose half of their current ice under a 2°C scenario.
- Various regions like the northern Andes, East Africa, and Indonesia are already witnessing rapid glacier disappearance due to the current 1.2°C temperature rise.
IMPORTANCE OF LIMITING WARMING TO 1.5°C:
- Criticality of 1.5°C Limit:
- The report highlights that 1.5°C is not just a preferable target but the only viable option to mitigate catastrophic consequences for the cryosphere.
- It urges leaders to discard the 2°C threshold, emphasizing the urgency of adopting the 1.5°C target.
- Cryosphere as Ground Zero:
- The cryosphere, encompassing frozen water in various forms, is depicted as ground zero for climate change.
- Its vulnerability to temperature changes serves as a barometer for the severity of global warming’s impact.
OBSERVATIONS AND CLIMATE INCIDENTS:
- Climate Disasters:
- The year 2023 witnessed various climate-related disasters, such as the Sikkim flash flood triggered by a glacial lake outburst and significant losses in Swiss glaciers.
- Alarming Indicators:
- The report highlights alarming indicators, including record-low sea ice around Antarctica, unusually high-water temperatures in the Arctic and North Atlantic, and atmospheric CO2 levels surpassing those of the past three million years.
CONSEQUENCES OF TEMPERATURE RISE:
- Sea-Level Rise and Ice Loss:
- A temperature increases of 2°C, it spells catastrophic sea-level rise from ice sheet melting in Greenland and parts of Antarctica, potentially leading to extensive and rapid irreversible effects.
- Permafrost Thawing:
- Both 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios signify significant permafrost thawing, releasing substantial CO2 and methane emissions that could amplify global warming.
CALL TO ACTION AND COP28:
- Urgent Course Correction:
- The report urges a significant shift in climate action, highlighting COP28 as a pivotal moment for global leaders to prioritize the 1.5°C target and avert long-term environmental catastrophes.
- Potential Consequences:
- Failure to act decisively risks displacing millions due to rising sea levels, disrupting freshwater resources, harming polar ecosystems, and committing future generations to offset irreversible permafrost emissions.
- The report’s comprehensive analysis emphasizes the urgency of addressing global warming to protect the cryosphere.
- It stresses the significance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, outlining the profound repercussions of exceeding this threshold on glaciers, polar regions, and permafrost.
- The report serves as a critical call to action for global leaders to prioritize ambitious climate policies at COP28 and beyond to prevent catastrophic consequences for humanity and the environment.