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Quebec Bulletin
June - July 2014/Volume 17/Number 3

Global climate change: Main highlights

volution du climat planétaire

Temperature departure (°C) from the 1981‑2010 average for January to March 2014. Source: National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

This last April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) completed its fifth report on climate change. The report reinforces the main conclusions of the previous four reports, published in 1990, 1996, 2001 and 2007.

Why then was the winter of 2014 so cold in Quebec? Although winter 2014 had us shivering, other places in the world experienced much milder conditions. As we know, weather conditions in Sochi, Russia had an impact on certain events at the Winter Olympics. Looking at the planet as a whole, winter 2014 (January to March) was actually the fourth warmest in history, with an average temperature 0.71 °C warmer than the 20th century average. How different local reality can sometimes be from global reality!

To guide politicians and other decision-makers on potential mitigation measures, scientists have quantified the extent of global warming with greater precision. They have projected four scenarios of total world carbon dioxide emissions between now and 2100. In Paris in 2015, they will examine the consequences of these scenarios and determine how to follow up from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

équipe d’échantillonnage

Erosion on a North Shore beach.

The first volume of the IPCC's fifth report addresses the issue strictly from a physical science basis. This scientific snapshot of the climate was used as a basis for the second volume, which examines the impacts of, and adaptation and vulnerability to, climate change. It was also used as a basis for the third volume, which looks at various options for mitigating climate change.

IPCC publications can be found on the organization's website.

Denis Gilbert, physicist and researcher at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont-Joli, is one of the 1,089 scientists, expert reviewers for IPPC. He contributed to the organization's fifth report with his research into the rising mean sea level and ocean temperature as well as ocean deoxygenation. He has been studying climate change issues since 1983.

Denis Gilbert

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