Friday, September 18, 2009

China's top climatologist questions IPCC's disaster predictions

It is too early to determine the level of meteorological risk posed by global warming, says the director-general of the Beijing Climate Centre

A 2C rise in global temperatures will not necessarily result in the calamity predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), China's most senior climatologist has told the Guardian. Despite growing evidence that storms in China are getting fiercer, droughts longer and typhoons more deadly, Xiao Ziniu, the director general of the Beijing Climate Centre, said it was too early to determine the level of risk posed by global warming.

"There is no agreed conclusion about how much change is dangerous," Xiao said. "Whether the climate turns warmer or cooler, there are both positive and negative effects. We are not focusing on what will happen with a one degree or two degree increase, we are looking at what level will be a danger to the environment. In Chinese history, there have been many periods warmer than today."

The IPCC warns a 2C rise substantially increases the risks of floods, drought and storms. Whether a 2C rise turns global warming into global burning has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in advance of the Copenhagen summit. The G8 and EU want the world to set 2C as a ceiling by 2050, but China is sceptical. A senior government adviser said yesterday that the target of two degrees was unrealistic and would not give developing nations room to grow.

Xiao said China had started its own climate modelling programme for the next 100 years aimed at predicting the point when global warming will result in environmental collapse. His centre will also release yearly climate predictions for China. Even with weather satellites and sophisticated simulation software, Xiao is not overly optimistic about accuracy the initial results.

"Climate prediction has only come into operation in recent years. The accuracy of the prediction is very low because the climate is affected by many mechanisms we do not fully understand."


Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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