The thin blue line – humanity’s fragile safety cordon in the face of rising sea level.

Scoping Meeting for IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Oceans and Cryosphere | 6-9 December 2016 | Monte Carlo, Monaco

The thin blue line – humanity’s fragile safety cordon in the face of rising sea level | Bruce Glavovic

The IPCC is preparing three Special Reports during this assessment cycle, including the above report on climate change and the oceans and cryosphere. The second special report will focus on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to climate change threats, sustainable development, and poverty eradication efforts. The third special report focuses on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

Special Reports are distinctive because they are designed to address policy-relevant issues that require input from more than one Working Group, and that these issues merit explicit consideration outside the framework of the more detailed Working Group Assessment Reports.

Experts invited to the Scoping Meeting reflect on available science and jointly develop a chapter structure and report outline to enable objective assessment of the relevant science. The Scoping Meeting recommendations the will be submitted to an IPCC Panel for consideration and approval in April 2017.

The content of the Special Report will be produced by Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review Editors selected following a call for nominations from IPCC member governments, observer organisations and Bureau members (open in April 2017). The Special Report will be approved and accepted by the IPCC Panel in September 2019, while the main Assessment Report will be approved and accepted during 2021–2022. In the context of the Paris COP21 (2015) Agreement the Special Report will provide a scientific assessment that may be relevant for global stocktake and climate policies related to the oceans and the cryosphere. In particular, the Paris Agreement has noted the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity. The Special Report is also highly relevant for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., 2, 11, 13, 14).

Being one of about 65 scientists selected from some 500 nominations by UN member nations and IPCC observer organization SSC Co-chair Bruce Glavovic was invited to present the first of four joint keynote presentations to contextualize and inform discussion. His keynote with Roderik van de Wal focused on sea level rise, flooding and coastal impacts. We sub-titled our presentation: “The thin blue line – humanity’s fragile safety cordon in the face of rising sea level”.

Next steps involve seeking IPCC Panel approval of the recommended report structure and then an invitation for potential authors will be circulated before authors are selected and work gets under way.