Articles

Here you can read articles written by senior scientists and postgraduate researchers. New articles will be continually added. If there is a topic you would like to know more about, contact us. You can also get involved by adding your own comments and questions.

Interview: Powering the Top of the World

Powering the Top of the World is a new documentary by Christoph Mazur and Chris Emmott, from Imperial College London. It explores energy supply in Nepal, and the innovative solutions to sustainable energy provision in some of the most remote parts of the world. With over 1.2 billion people with no access to electricity across the globe, these issues are echoed in countries the world over. Christoph Mazur speaks to Climatica about their work in Nepal, the moviemaking process, and their night at the BAFTAs.     Tell us about your new film ‘Powering the top of the world’ You’re a researcher first and foremost, what...

Snail shells provide detailed records of environmental change

By Dr Jonathan Lewis and Prof Melanie Leng The shells of molluscs from all over the world – on land, in lakes, and in the ocean – contain very detailed imprints of past climate change. Using isotope analysis, we can extract these signals and start to piece together long-term climate variations. You will never look at a garden snail in the same way again! What are molluscs? Molluscs are soft-bodied (invertebrate) organisms that are widespread in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats. We can split them into two basic groups: Gastropods: Molluscs with up to one shell or ‘valve’ (such as snails or slugs) Bivalves: Molluscs...

In brief: the IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report

Ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse for no action Michel Jarraud – World Meteorological Organization    What is the Synthesis Report? The newly published IPCC Synthesis Report, released on 2nd November, draws together the key findings of the three Working Groups of the IPCC (The Physical Science Basis; Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability; Mitigation of Climate Change – available here) as well as two Special Reports. It forms the final, and possibly most important, instalment of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). For previous Climatica reports on the IPCC’s recent findings, click on these links: IPCC: Future climate phenomenon; IPCC: Long-term climate projections;...

The greenhouse effect and its role in the Earth’s climate

The Sun bathes the Earth in radiation. Much of this radiation reaches the surface, warming the planet and driving the climate.  The surface then emits heat (as infrared radiation), most of which does not escape to space, but is instead absorbed by gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.  These gases then warm, emitting further heat radiation both to space and back towards the Earth’s surface.  This is what we all know as the greenhouse effect.   The Earth’s energy balance In order for the radiative budget of the Earth to be in equilibrium – that is heat radiation leaving the planet to equal the absorbed solar...

Understanding past sea-level change

Sea-level change is an important consequence of climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic.  Global mean sea level has been rising. For the 20th century, the average rate was 1.7 ± 0.5 mm yr–1 (IPCC AR5), and in some locations (such as the east coast of the USA) there is some evidence that the rate of sea-level change appears to have increased from the 19th to 20th centuries.  However, sea-level change is not a global process but in fact the sea level at any location and at any time is result of a complex combination of a range of factors.  Changes in sea level are a result of any...