Representing the first major global assessment of climate change science in six years, “Climate Change 2007 – The Physical Science Basis” has quickly captured the attention of both policymakers and the general public. The report confirms that our scientific understanding of the climate system and its sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions is now richer and deeper than ever before. It also portrays a dynamic research sector that will provide ever greater insights into climate change over the coming years.
The rigor and credibility of this report owes much to the unique nature of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988, the IPCC is both an intergovernmental body and a network of the world’s leading climate change scientists and experts.
The chapters forming the bulk of this report describe scientists’ assessment of the state-of-knowledge in their respective fields. They were written by 152 coordinating lead authors and lead authors from over 30 countries and reviewed by over 600 experts. A large number of government reviewers also contributed review comments.
The Summary for Policymakers was approved by officials from 113 governments and represents their understanding – and their ownership – of the entire underlying report. It is this combination of expert and government review that constitutes the strength of the IPCC.
The IPCC does not conduct new research. Instead, its mandate is to make policy-relevant – as opposed to policy-prescriptive – assessments of the existing worldwide literature on the scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of climate change. Its earlier assessment reports helped to inspire governments to adopt and implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. The current report will also be highly relevant as Governments consider their options for moving forward together to address the challenge of climate change.
Climate Change 2007 – the Physical Science Basis is the first volume of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. The second volume considers climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation options, while the third volume assesses the opportunities for and the costs of mitigation. A fourth volume provides a synthesis of the IPCC’s overall findings.
The Physical Science Basis was made possible by the commitment and voluntary labor of the world’s leading climate scientists. We would like to express our gratitude to all the Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors, Contributing Authors, Review Editors and Reviewers. We would also like to thank the staff of the Working Group I Technical Support Unit and the IPCC Secretariat for their dedication in coordinating the production of another successful IPCC report.
Many Governments have supported the participation of their resident scientists in the IPCC process and contributed to the IPCC Trust Fund, thus also assuring the participation of experts from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The governments of Italy, China, New Zealand and Norway hosted drafting sessions, while the Government of France hosted the final plenary that approved and accepted the report. The Government of the United States of America funded the Working Group I Technical Support Unit.
Finally, we would like to thank Dr R.K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, for his sound direction and tireless and able guidance of the IPCC, and Dr. Susan Solomon and Prof. Dahe Qin, the Co-Chairs of Working Group I, for their skillful leadership of Working Group I through the production of this report.
World Meteorological Organization
United Nations Environment Programme