Expert Reactions to IPCC Oceans & Cryosphere Report

IPCC Report Ocean Cryosphere Climate Nexus

IPCC Oceans & Cryosphere Report Author Quotes

Read IPCC Oceans & Cryosphere Report key takeaways here.

“Taken together, these changes show that the world’s ocean and cryosphere have been taking the heat for climate change for decades. The consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe. This report highlights the urgency of timely, ambitious, coordinated, and enduring action. What’s at stake is the health of ecosystems, wildlife, and importantly the world we leave our children.”

  • Ko Barrett, IPCC Vice Chair

“The changes that we see are not only consistent across the systems, but also we are striking how much they are linked. I think that is a major outcome of this report to show, it’s really from the highest mountains to the oceans, the systems are directly linked to each other. That makes also then the we see changes in every single component, but these are linked. That is very important to recognize that you cannot just go and consider one system or one in isolation, but it’s all these changes happening consistently and coherently around the world and they’re linked together.”\

  • Regine Hock, Lead Author on Chapter 2, University of Alaska Fairbanks

“What you get is an overriding impression is a huge,an extraordinary range of these systems that over these broad regions that have all had in the ecosystem’s area negative impacts in the human services and human systems and ecosystem services area, negative impact and largely driven by the physical changes that are going on in the ocean. And so the equal view that figure is sort of a picture of widespread changes through all of the things that we understand about the ocean caused in some part by human activity.”

  • Nathan Bindoff, Coordinating Lead Author Chapter 5, University of Tasmania and CSIRO

“The data in SROCC that were collected and assessed by scientists are the tip of a massive iceberg of global change impacts that are happening as cold places warm up. We know that immense changes are taking place on our planet due to the changing climate. These are changes beyond what we can see or what has been measured. Though changes to the Earth’s oceans and cryosphere are immense, our future does not depend on the past. Our future depends on who we are and what we can do together.”

  • Heidi Steltzer, SPM Draft Contributing Author and Coordinating Lead Author on Chapter 2, Fort Lewis College

Expert Reaction Quotes

“The IPCC report paints a gloomy picture of the impacts of climate change on the ocean — an ocean that is warmer, more acidic and less productive — and the dire consequences for our own well being. Fortunately we have solutions for healing the ocean that can also be a powerful part of the climate solution. It is time to embrace ocean-based mitigation options such as expanding renewable ocean energy, adopting nature-based solutions like fully protected marine protected areas, and greening our shipping fleets. Now we know. There is too much at stake to do anything less than fully embrace the challenge of achieving the 1.5 degree target.”

  • Jane Lubchenco, Professor at Oregon State University, former Administrator of NOAA, former U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean

“The IPCC report carries a powerful message – the Arctic is rapidly unraveling. The loss of sea ice, the shrinking of the Greenland ice sheet, thawing permafrost, and the melting of high latitude glaciers have major global consequences. Governments must decide the future state of the Arctic and rapidly cut emissions to sustain the global climate system.”

  • Rafe Pomerance, Chair of Arctic 21 and Senior Arctic Policy Fellow at Woods Hole Research Center

“This sobering report demonstrates how our Ocean, the crucible of life on our planet, is at grave risk of collapse. What’s frustrating is that we know what the solutions are, but what’s lacking is the political will to enact them. We can turn that frustration into opportunity with an Ocean Climate Action Plan, which would help protect coastal communities and ecosystems that are increasingly threatened from storms, sea level rise, and fisheries decline, while building a sustainable blue economy and creating jobs through climate solutions like offshore wind development.”

  • David Helvarg, Author and Executive Director of Blue Frontier

“The findings of this report are a wake-up call for everyone – not just for those who live near the ocean. Climate change has already brought severe changes, especially for communities that directly rely on coastal ecosystems and fisheries, snowmelt for water supplies, and Arctic climate stability. Our entire global society is reliant on the ocean and ice systems that regulate our planet. We can no longer afford business as usual, and it is going to require the participation of each of us. These signals are too strong for us to ignore any longer – now is the time for bold, urgent climate action to avoid even more catastrophic impacts.”

  • Louie Psihoyos, Filmmaker, The Cove and Racing Extinction, and Executive Director, Oceanic Preservation Society

“As an economist I study market failure, and nowhere is this more present than in ocean and coastal policy. This IPCC report shows that along with the tremendous costs that come with climate change, also come great opportunities – to rethink our relationship with three quarters of the planet and develop new economist development strategies that protect vulnerable communities, create jobs in offshore clean energy, and invest in resilient coastal infrastructure.”

  • Jason Scorse, Director of the Center for the Blue Economy

“This IPCC report is significant because it shows clearly that we cannot afford to leave oceans – and in particular, fisheries – out of the climate change discussion. Inevitable climate change impacts on the ocean mean inevitable impacts on the integrity of ocean ecosystems and the global nutrition, food security and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world. We must acknowledge the report’s concerns and move swiftly to protect global fisheries – particularly through sustainable fisheries management and intergovernmental cooperation. By acting to protect the ocean and global fisheries now, we can preserve a safe, fair future for all people reliant on the ocean.”

  • Doug Rader, Chief Oceans Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

“Climate change appears to be the most likely culprit behind the warm water blobs we’ve been experiencing off the California coast off and on for the past five years. The warmer waters just don’t have as much food for baby salmon as cold waters. We’re seeing similar problems in the ocean salmon fishery all the way up to Alaska. From dead seabirds to the proliferation of disease that leads to kelp forest loss, warm water off our coast is not what we want.”

  • John McManus, President of Golden State Salmon Association

“This extraordinary Special Report from the IPCC makes clear the importance of the polar regions for global society, and for the deep challenges we have to overcome to secure a sustainable future. Science in, from and about the Antarctic is essential for successfully meeting these challenges. Its outcomes will reduce uncertainty about how the Antarctic Ice Sheets and Southern Ocean will behave in the immediate and more distant future, and what that means for sea level rise, global climate and the living resources of the Southern Ocean. These are crucial concerns for society globally. Time has not yet run out to avert change to our world that will render it unrecognizable. This report provides the evidence to support the global action required to do so.”

  • Steven L. Chown, President of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research  

“The latest IPCC report makes it clear that policy leaders and monied interests can no longer crank up the volume on the car’s radio to cover up the troubling noise coming from the engine. That noise —including a meltdown in the Arctic, record heat, and devastating storms—has become too loud to ignore. To preserve a world where polar bears and humans continue to flourish, we must demand our leaders listen to the science and take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before it is too late.”

 – Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, Chief Scientist at Polar Bears International

“This most recent IPCC report dramatically reinforces what our members, who make their living from the ocean, see and experience as they work their farms. Changing ocean chemistry and the number and intensity of storms are just two of the climate impacts that the shellfish industry and coalition members across the country, from Alaska to Florida, see happening right now. But we believe if we act with determination, right now, we can avert the worst of what’s coming. We urge our US Congress and the President to take immediate steps to reduce global warming pollution, so that our oceans continue to be a source of food for billions of people.”

  • Bill Mook of Mook Sea Farm of Maine, a founding member of the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition

“The single most important thing we can do for the ocean besides reducing emissions is to fully or highly protect at least 30% of the global ocean from other stressors, including industrial fishing, pollution and habitat destroying activities.  A healthy ocean will be much more resilient to climate change-related impacts than a polluted, depleted and degraded one.”

  • Lisa Speer, Director, International Oceans, NRDC

“To date, the global fight against climate change has largely overlooked the ocean-climate relationship. The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, however, illustrates the devastating effects of climate change on ocean and coastal ecosystems and the billions of people who rely on them. The report should serve as a call to leaders across sectors and levels of government to dramatically increase their efforts phasing out greenhouse gas pollution and building the resilience of the ecosystems and communities on the frontlines of ocean and climate change.”

  • Gwynne Taraska, Director of Policy and Research, Climate Advisers

“I am pleased that the IPCC is shining a light upon the myriad of ways that the ocean — and the people who depend upon it — will be affected by climate change. People who live along the coast, and the millions of people around the world who rely upon fisheries as a protein source and economic driver, will be deeply impacted by these changes. The time is now to act and invest in solutions. The report is clear that we need to curb carbon emissions and conserve habitats in the ocean that naturally store carbon dioxide – such as seagrasses, salt marshes, and mangroves – while at the same time we must take adaptation steps to protect people and environments from impacts we can’t avoid.”

  • Tessa Hill, Ph.D., Professor, Earth & Planetary Sciences Department, University of California, Davis 

“We’re incredibly fortunate for this year’s wet weather, including so much snow that skiers were zooming down Colorado’s slopes until after Memorial Day. But we know that we can’t rely on unpredictable weather patterns to get us out of the drought, water shortages and low river flows we’ve experienced for most of the last 19 years here in the Mountain West. Scientists conclude that, in the face of a warming Western climate, strong snowpack and runoff will likely be the exception, not the rule. The water future we need won’t be handed to us; we have to plan proactively to create it. That means we must pursue strategies to minimize the potential risks and uncertainties of a continued dry future — and secure water and funding for things that don’t traditionally get top billing, like stream health, our river-based recreation economy, agriculture, clean drinking water, and a healthy environment.”

  •  Bart Miller, director of Western Resource Advocates’ Healthy Rivers Program

“The release of the IPCC Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate highlights the critical importance of California’s ambitious efforts to address the impacts of climate change.   We are witnessing firsthand the effects of climate change on our ocean and coast, with threats to our fisheries, communities, economies and ecosystems. Inaction is not an option, which is why we are committed to a zero-carbon emissions economy that will stem the tide of alarming climate-related changes in our oceans. We are committed to action to help the state adapt and build resiliency against existing and anticipated climate change impacts.”

  • Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary for Natural Resources

“While filming “Chasing Ice” and “Chasing Coral,” we captured catastrophic changes happening to our world’s glaciers and coral reefs.  These ecosystems have been the first to change as a result of the climate crisis, and the IPCC report offers clear evidence that these devastating impacts will only continue in the years to come. Our civilization is actively destroying the fundamental stability of nature on which we depend. It has never been more urgent—desperately urgent— for our world leaders to unite and fight for a livable future.”

  • Jeff Orlowski, Filmmaker of Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral, Founder of Exposure Labs

“The bottom line is that we need the ocean. And right now, the ocean needs us. It’s not too late to take courageous climate action and safeguard the ocean from further damage.”

  • Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

“It’s time to double down on our investment in ocean and climate research, technology and conservation. We are in a race to explore and understand our ocean as it undergoes massive change as a result of human activity. The sooner we act, the healthier our ocean will be.”

  • Chris Scholin, president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

“The water system that supplies our farms and ranches across the West was built to work with the slow melt of the snowpack. Climate change brings reduced snowpack, longer and more severe droughts and floods. To preserve our iconic rural landscapes in the Colorado River Basin, California and across the West, we must rethink our water system to adapt to these new realities.”

  • Maurice Hall, Associate Vice President for Water, Environmental Defense Fund