This introductory chapter serves as a lead-in to the science presented in the Working Group I (WGI) contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Chapter 1 in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) (Le Treut et al., 2007)[1] provided a historical perspective on the understanding of climate science and the evidence regarding human influence on the Earth’s climate system. Since the last assessment, the scientific knowledge gained through observations, theoretical analyses, and modelling studies has continued to increase and to strengthen further the evidence linking human activities to the ongoing climate change. In AR5, Chapter 1 focuses on the concepts and definitions applied in the discussions of new findings in the other chapters. It also examines several of the key indicators for a changing climate and shows how the current knowledge of those indicators compares with the projections made in previous assessments. The new scenarios for projected human-related emissions used in this assessment are also introduced. Finally, the chapter discusses the directions and capabilities of current climate science, while the detailed discussion of new findings is covered in the remainder of the WGI contribution to the AR5.


  1. Le Treut, H., R. Somerville, U. Cubasch, Y. Ding, C. Mauritzen, A. Mokssit, T. Peterson and M. Prather, 2007: Historical Overview of Climate Change. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
ES 1.1 1.2.1 1.2.2 1.2.3 1.3 1.3.1 1.3.2 1.3.3 1.3.4 1.4.1 1.4.2 1.4.3 1.4.4 1.5 1.5.1 1.5.2 1.6 Box 1 FAQ Refs