New UN climate report: Global warming having ‘profound consequences’ on oceans, ice

The world is already feeling the effects of global warming with more frequent and stronger storms, flooding and hotter temperatures across the world. Now a new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds it is also profoundly impacting the world's oceans and frozen regions like the poles.

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Millions of people living along coastal zones, on small islands and in Arctic regions depend directly on marine and Arctic ecosystems for their livelihood.

Greenhouse gas emissions have already pushed global temperatures 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels, resulting in "overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people," the new IPCC report said.

The panel pointed to the "evidence" of warming ocean waters, which are becoming more acidic and less productive, and melting glaciers around the world, which are causing sea level rise and more flooding and erosion in coastal communities.

The IPCC urged immediate action, saying that it's not too late -- that a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can still work to limit the severe changes and potentially deadly consequences of unchecked global warming.

"The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people," IPCC Chairman Hoesung Lee said in a news release. "But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and well-being, for culture and identity."

Lee said it’s possible to limit the worst effects of global warming if people and governments take action through more sustainable development.

"If we reduce emissions sharply, consequences for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable," he said.

More than 100 scientists were involved in the latest IPCC report, which was approved Tuesday by the 195 governments that are part of the IPCC.

The dire assessment follows several other recent IPCC reports, including one this summer that warned of unchecked global warming's impact on food and water resources, and another last fall that predicted devastating consequences for the planet unless temperature increases are kept below 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

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