Climate Change affects all parts of the Earth system such as the world’s oceans and the cryosphere, an IPCC special report outlines. From storing huge amounts of heat in ocean depths to shrinking glaciers in polar regions and high mountain elevations, no place or watery aspect is immune from the changing climate.
The world’s leading marine and climate scientists united to produce this special report to determine the extent of potential problems like sea-level rise for coastal dwellers and shrinking glaciers for people who rely on meltwater for downstream water supplies. Mountain snowpack is crucial to life because it makes up about half of global freshwater supplies. In the opening lines of the special report, the IPCC authors state that,
“All people on Earth depend directly or indirectly on the ocean and cryosphere” …noting that “human communities in close connection with coastal environments, small islands, polar areas and high mountains are particularly exposed” to the changes of a warming planet.
All told, the shifts in oceans and the frozen parts of the Earth have forced adaptation responses beyond what is possible for society to cope with, but especially for those who are the most vulnerable. World leaders and the wealthy must encourage sustainable development, which means increasing quality of life while implementing “urgent and ambitious emissions reductions coupled with coordinated sustained and increasingly ambitious adaptation actions.” [Carbon Brief]