Sweeping and Severe: IPCC Oceans Report Warns of Huge Consequences of Climate Change for 'Nature and Humanity'

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned of "sweeping and severe" consequences for "nature and humanity" as a result of climate change.

In its latest report on the state of the world's oceans, the IPCC said severe events that used to happen once per century will become an annual occurrence by around 2050.

The report assesses the state of the world's ocean, coastal, polar and mountain ecosystems. It was released Wednesday at a meeting held in Monaco and involved research from more than 100 experts from over 80 countries across environmental disciplines.

"There's now no doubt at all that scientific evidence shows that the Earth's climate is changing in unwelcome ways, affecting everything everywhere—from the poles to the equator, and from the highest mountain to the deepest part of the ocean," Phillip Williamson, an honorary reader at the U.K.'s University of East Anglia's School of Environmental Sciences, and lead author for the ocean chapter of the report, told Newsweek. "Our planet won't be the same again."

The report said severe effects of climate change are now inevitable—but how bad those effects are depend on how we progress. To prevent a a worst-case scenario, we must take drastic action to stop temperatures rising far above the 1 degree Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels that has already taken place, the study authors warn.

"The world's ocean and cryosphere have been 'taking the heat' from climate change for decades, and consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe," Ko Barrett, Vice-Chair of the IPPC, said in a statement.

Climate change requires action that is "timely, ambitious, coordinated and enduring action," Barrett told audiences in Monaco.

The report said smaller glaciers in Europe, eastern Africa and elsewhere are projected to lose more than 80 percent of ice mass by 2100 under a high emission scenario, reducing water availability and quality in those regions.

Other parts of the globe will see increases in tropical cyclones and rainfall as climate change exacerbates extreme weather events. The average intensity, size of storm surges and precipitation rates of tropical storms will intensify, the report authors warn.

The report cited ocean acidification, extreme permafrost thaw and shifts in the distribution of fish species as just some of the consequences that will disrupt ecosystems across the globe

If global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, one-quarter of near-surface permafrost will thaw by the end of the century. If warming allowed to increase much further, 70 percent of near-surface permafrost could be gone by 2100. Picture: Melting permafrost tundra at the town of Quinhagak on the Yukon Delta in Alaska on April 12, 2019

Sea level rise is currently taking place at rates twice as fast as the twentieth century and is predominantly caused by accelerated melt in Greenland and Antarctica.

The report said that if little is down to curb greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels could rise 3.6 feet by the end of the century, and further in decades and centuries to come. This would affect billions of people across the world, including millions who live in coastal mega-cities, like London, Shanghai, and New York.

"An overarching main point that emerges from the report is that choices we make now are going to be key for the future for the ocean and cryosphere of our planet," Michael Meredith, the Science Leader of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK, told Newsweek.

"Changes we are seeing are, in many cases, accelerating—such as the loss of ice from Antarctica and Greenland—but choices we make can greatly affect how these changes progress over the coming decades."

Talking about how to protect marine environments from climate change, Williamson said: "Natural climate solutions based on conserving coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, will provide many benefits—but are relatively ineffective in slowing climate change.

"Rapid reduction in CO2 emissions (to net zero) as soon as possible is our only exit route—to minimise the future damage caused by climate change, but not eliminate it entirely."

The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate follows a landmark report published by the IPCC in 2018 that highlighted the need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures to avoid the most severe effects of human-driven climate change.