State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

An Inside Look at the Making of the Recent IPCC Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on August 9, 2021. This report summarizes the findings of more than 14,000 peer-reviewed studies about the physical science basis for climate change. The conclusions are sobering. The evidence is unequivocal that humans have warmed the planet, causing widespread and rapid changes, the authors write, warning that the present state of the climate system is unprecedented going back thousands of years.

Daniel Ruiz Carrascal and dog
Daniel Ruiz Carrascal is a former Adjunct Research Scientist at the IRI, and a current Associate Research Scientist at E3B.

IRI climate scientist Daniel Ruiz Carrascal was one of thousands of researchers who contributed to the report. Ruiz was one of the lead authors for Chapter 12 of the report, which focused on “climate change information for regional impact and for risk assessment.” He also contributed to Chapter 11—about extreme weather events—and helped write IPCC’s factsheets on Central and South America and mountain ecosystems. Ruiz’s research focuses on developing climate adaptation strategies for the fragile ecosystems across the Tropics.

We asked Ruiz to share his experiences working on this globally influential report, as well as his thoughts about how he hopes it will affect research and action in the future.

The final AR6 report for Working Group I is massive! How long have you and others been working on this? What has that process been like?

The full Working Group I report, which includes a summary for policy makers, a technical summary and thirteen chapters (including the atlas), is 3,085 pages long! Just the chapter I worked on, Chapter 12, is 227 pages long. It took us more than three years to write it. By “us” I mean three coordinating lead authors, twelve lead authors, eighty-five contributing authors, three review editors, and two early-career scientists. We participated in one in-person expert meeting, three in-person lead author meetings, two virtual (online) author meetings, and multiple online internal coordination meetings.

Our multiple drafts of the chapter address more than 78,000 review comments. It was a privilege to join efforts with all the scientists involved. It was challenging to keep the report moving forward under the exceptional circumstances of the last 18 months under COVID-19. In a recent tweet, I mentioned that in our chapter we behaved like a family: there was a lot of respect, appreciation, acceptance, kindness, sacrifices, support, and joy. And we argued too. That’s how I feel the process was. It feels great to look back and see what we all managed to do.

Read the full story — including key findings and why Ruiz is optimistic about solving climate change — on the website of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.   

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