Assessment of the BACC Report ‘BALTEX Assessment of Climate Change for the Baltic Sea Basin’

SurBACC 2010: Assessment of the BACC Report ‘BALTEX Assessment of Climate Change for the Baltic Sea Basin’ (BACC Author team, 2008)

In 2008 the BALTEX Assessment of Climate Change for the Baltic Sea Basin was published as a comprehensive report, much like the familiar IPCC reports, with a regional focus on the Baltic Sea basin: . The report included chapters on past and current climate change, projected futures of anthropogenic climate change and observed and projected impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

In March 2010 members on the BALTEX mailing list were sent a survey questionnaire, with two goals in mind. The first goal as to assess Baltic Sea region climate scientists’ perceptions of the climate change issue in general, and the second goal was to assess their level of satisfaction with the BACC Report.

Scientific agreement (or consensus) is not usually as simple a single yes-no response. Surveys such as SurBACC 2010 attempt to look at the details of agreement and disagreement of scientists’ perceptions, the details of agreement on the strengths and weaknesses in the science, of scientific needs, of scientific problem issues and of knowledge gaps in the science.

On the issue of climate change in general, it is clear that a majority of the survey participants agree that climate change, be it of anthropogenic causes or otherwise, is occurring now. There is not so much certainty though as to attribution, i.e. natural versus anthropogenic causes. Many details were asked concerning aspects of climate modelling and responses are widely varied, both for climate models and for ocean models. The understanding of physical processes and the availability of data were assessed and, as would be expected in the course of any science, there is a reasonable level of agreement among the respondents that there is considerable room for improvement. There were mixed responses concerning the level of threat from both climate and sea level rise in the Baltic region, with climate change seen as a slightly higher threat, and no catastrophic scenarios were foreseen for the next 10 years at least.

The second section of the survey was for the purpose of the assessment of a comprehensive report on the state of climate change science as it pertains to the Baltic Region. Here, the level of satisfaction with production and content of the report are quite favourable with claims that the report is significant for the advancement of climate change assessments for the Baltic region but somewhat less significant for the advancements of regional sea level assessments. On nearly all accounts, the estimates of change (changes to surface air temperature, changes in extreme events, etc.) are claimed to be reflected fairly well in the report. A large majority of respondents concluded that a second BACC Report would be a worthy and significant contribution some time in the future.

The full report of the survey ‘SurBACC 2010’ is available on line here