Understanding and responding to danger from climate change: the role of key risks in the IPCC AR5

Katharine J. Mach, Michael D. Mastrandrea, T. Eren Bilir, Christopher B. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Abstract: The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) identifies key risks in a changing climate to inform judgments about danger from climate change and to empower responses. In this article, we introduce the innovations and implications of its approach, which extends analysis across sectors and regions, and consider relevance for future research and assessment. Across key risks in the AR5, we analyze the changing risk levels and potential for risk reduction over the next few decades, an era with some further committed warming, and in the second half of the 21st century and beyond, a longer-term era of climate options determined by the ambition of global mitigation. The key risk assessment underpins the IPCC’s conclusion that increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts. Here, we emphasize central challenges in understanding and communicating risks. These features include the importance of complex interactions in shaping risks, the need for rigorous expert judgment in evaluating risks, and the centrality of values, perceptions, and goals in determining both risks and responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-444
Number of pages18
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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