News Highlights

2019 IPCC Special Report: Oceans and Cryosphere

In the midst of Climate Week and National Clean Energy Week, a major climate science report is coming out. On Wednesday, September 25 at 5am ET, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. More than 100 leading scientists from 36+ countries prepared the report, citing nearly 7,000 research publications. Here’s what to look for:

  • The latest science on how climate change affects the ocean, coastal, polar, and mountain regions—as well as the communities that depend on them.
  • A focused chapter on sea level rise and its ramifications for low-lying islands.
  • A look at climate extremes and “abrupt changes”, including tropical storms and the jet stream.
  • Options for risk management, adaptation, and sustainable development.

For chapter-specific details ahead of time, see the IPCC’s fact sheet

For the full report, click here

In recent decades, more than 90% of the excess heat and 25% of human-caused CO2 emissions have gone into the ocean. This has limited the severity of global warming on land, but with major consequences that affect humans and ecosystems alike. The warming waters are devastating coral reefs, and leading to oxygen depletion with dead zones that inhibit marine life. Dissolved CO2 also leads to an increase in ocean acidity, which has surged by 30% over the past 250 years—with significant impacts on many species. And rising sea levels are already an urgent concern, flooding coastal communities around the world. Drastically cutting our greenhouse gas emissions—as emphasized in last year’s IPCC report—would lessen these impacts.

Here are some resources to help tell the story:

Full Release: World Oceans Day Full Release: Ocean Acidification
Sea Level Rise: Surging Seas web tools Sea Level Rise: Coastal Flooding Toolkit
Cryosphere: Shrinking Sea Ice Volume Cryosphere: Melting Ice Fuels Heat Spiral

See more high-resolution graphics and videos in our searchable media library.


Infographic: Climate Change: A triple threat for the ocean


Provided by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)



  • Dr. Maya Buchanan, sea level rise scientist and contributing author to the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere
  • Dr. Heidi Cullen, director of communications and strategic initiatives for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; former chief scientist for Climate Central
  • Dr. Francisco Chavez, Biological Oceanographer and expert on long-term ocean cycles (Note: Dr. Chavez is a native Spanish speaker and is available for interviews in English or Spanish.)


Arctic sea ice has reached its likely minimum extent for 2019—tied for the second lowest on record according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. See last week’s Climate Matters for more.

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Source: Climate Central