A senior scientist from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will discuss the latest climate science, including the potential for higher sea-level rise than previously projected, at ANU on Tuesday.
Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, will discuss the latest insights on human-caused climate change, including new knowledge on sea-level risks from the Antarctic ice sheet showing the potential to double sea-level rise by 2100.
"Sea-level rise has accelerated in recent decades, mostly due to an increased contribution of the Greenland ice sheet," said Dr Masson-Delmotte, a senior scientist from Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, in France, who is visiting ANU this week.
"Summer warming above the Greenland ice sheet has been strongly related to human influence on the climate system. Sea-level rise is enhancing coastal submersion risks."
A panel discussion chaired by ANU Climate Change Institute Director Professor Mark Howden, with experts on marine ecosystems, sea-level rise and health, will follow Dr Masson-Delmotte's lecture.
Dr Masson-Delmotte said recent extreme events in Syria, France and the Arctic could be attributed to human influence on the climate system.
"The drought in Syria from 2007 to 2010 was unusual in a multi centennial context, and human influence was discerned in the two components of drought - lack of rainfall and increased temperatures," she said.
"This occurs in a region where climate models project increasing water stress in a changing climate, due to a change in large-scale atmospheric circulation for the Mediterranean area."
Dr Masson-Delmotte said the heavy rainfall and flooding events in France last year during spring were very strongly enhanced in a warming climate.
"Warmer seas and warmer air allow the atmosphere to transport more moisture, so that the same rare meteorological situation favouring heavy rainfall is associated with more intense rainfall in a warmer world," she said.
"This event in France had major impacts on crop yields in our bread basket area."
The extreme warm conditions in the Arctic last autumn were very unlikely to occur in a pre-industrial climate and could not be explained without human influence on climate, Dr Masson-Delmotte.
"This type of event in the Arctic will occur each second year in 2050, if there is no ambitious mitigation action," she said.