Assessing the need for more Data on Worldwide Climates

Climate change is one of the best-discussed topics in modern environmental sciences and it is an ongoing debate in many global forums, which are grappled with finding answers to the continued problem of global warming, environmental pollution and other natural phenomena contributing to worldwide climate changes. However, in many such forums, experts have argued regarding the need for obtaining more data for better understanding these manmade and natural phenomena leading to worldwide climate change and this article expects to assess the need for more data, based on opinions expressed by the leading international agencies.

The United National Environmental Programme (UNEP) is one such organization tasked with intervening in programmes related to addressing the issues of worldwide climate change and in one of their scope papers aimed at a ‘climate change conference’, they express their perspective related to ‘data needs for addressing climate change’.

In that, the UNEP emphasize that they have moved ‘climate change’ up to top of their agenda and that every part of the UN system is committed to partner its member states in mitigating and adapting to climate change. It also highlights the opinion expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which made clear that climate change is already happening and that it is accelerating. Furthermore, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report also highlight the detrimental effects of climate change in some of the most poor and vulnerable countries in the world. At the same time, one of UNEPs flagship reports, the GEO-4 has also made explicit that, ‘adapting to climate change’ has become a ‘global priority’ and it further calls for ‘improved monitoring and enhancing our scientific understanding of the potential tipping points beyond which reversibility is not assured.’

When looking at these opinions, it is evident that many agencies are not satisfied with the work progress, especially related to improving the scientific understanding of climate change.

In order to address the issues of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, the international agencies, the UN and expert panels have formulated a set of variables identified as ‘observed changes in climate and weather indicators’ and ‘essential climate variables’. These parameters will help scientists and member countries to communicate climate related data and exchange knowledge in relation to mitigation and adaptation. Some of the data variables belonging to the ‘observed changes in climate and weather indicators’ include, air temperature, ocean temperature, sea level, snow cover, mountain glaciers, arctic sea-ice extent, permafrost extent, heavy precipitation events, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones, cold days and nights, hot days and nights and hot extremes. Meanwhile, the essential climate variables have been categorized into several domains, which include atmospheric, ocean and terrestrial domains. At the same time, two other sets of data known as ‘key impacts as a function of increasing global average temperature change’ and ‘mitigation variables’ have also been formulated to address the growing problem.

According to UNEP, apart from the above mentioned data variables, there are many more parameters that need to be assessed in order to derive certain other information which are essential in fully understanding the global phenomena of climate change and countering it effectively. As such, they conclude the paper by stating, “while a vast amount of data and indicators is already available for analysis and information purposes, more data of high quality is needed.”

Thus, it is evident that, countries and various agencies dealing with climate change issues should collaborate and exchange the wealth of knowledge among each other in order to at least minimize the effects of ‘worldwide climate change’.