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The Second Assessment Report (SAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 1996, is an assessment of the then available scientific and socio-economic information on climate change. It was superseded by the Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001.
The Second Assessment Report, titled Climate Change 1995, consists of reports from each of the three Working Groups, and a Synthesis Report:
These reports were prepared by over two thousand experts, and "contain the factual basis of the issue of climate change, gleaned from available expert literature and further carefully reviewed by experts and governments."
The Synthesis Report gave its purpose as providing the scientific, technical and socio-economic information for determining
what concentrations of greenhouse gases might be regarded as "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" and the charting of a future which allows for economic development which is sustainable.
Working Group I, dealing with the scientific aspects of climate, stated that
carbon dioxide remains the most important contributor to anthropogenic forcing of climate change; projections of future global mean temperature change and sea level rise confirm the potential for human activities to alter the Earth's climate to an extent unprecedented in human history; and the long time-scales governing both the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the response of the climate system to those accumulations, means that many important aspects of climate change are effectively irreversible.
Working Group I subsequently characterized its reports in the First and Second Assessments as progressing from an understanding that the greenhouse effect is well understood, greenhouse gases are increasing (due largely to human activity), and therefore should lead to significant global warming (though lack of understanding limited specific regional predictions), to a greater understanding (despite continuing uncertainties) that global warming continues and is most likely due to human activity, and that very substantial cuts in emissions would be required to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations.
Working Group II assessed whether the range of plausible impacts of global warming constitutes dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, while Working Group III provided information to help countries "take decisions they believe are most appropriate for their specific circumstances".
The Second Assessment Report consists of the following reports from each of the three Working Groups, and a Synthesis Report. The WG2 report has on-line text; all are available in PDF format at the IPCC's documents web page.