Posts tagged "global warming"

IPCC special: Long-term climate projections

Chapter 12 of the 5th Assessment Report of IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) deals with future projections of climate change in the long-term. Long-term in this case means beyond the middle of the 21st century when the projections start to depend more strongly on the pathway or scenario of emissions of greenhouse gases, principally CO2. We rely extensively on computer models of the climate system for this as, obviously, there are no observations of the future. While computer models are not completely accurate in their ability to project future climate change, it is possible to use our understanding of the climate system to assess uncertainties...

Wildfire: recycled sunlight or fuel for climate change?

The rainforest is burning in Sumatra, Indonesia. A majestic Meranti tree is close to the fire line. As flames from the surrounding canopy rage closer to this ancient tree, water quickly evaporates from its leaves, transforming the foliage into dry fuel for the fire. When turbulent, convective winds within the canopy bring hot air to the immediate surroundings of our tree, long-chain cellulose molecules in the desiccated foliage begin to crack, producing hydrocarbon gases and solid char deposits; with a flash, the gases ignite, forming the flames of the fire. This brief, catastrophic episode at the end of this tree’s life quickly re-balances a century...

Beyond the science: Facing the challenge of climate change

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, along with global population, poverty alleviation, environmental degradation and global security. The problem is that ‘climate change’ is no longer just a scientific concern, but encompasses economics, sociology, geopolitics, national and local politics, law, and health just to name a few. But with so many other problems in the world should we care about climate change? What we are finding is that if we do not produce win-win solutions then climate change will make all our other problems worse.   Human induced Climate Change We have strong evidence that we have been changing...

Challenged by carbon: rocks and climate change

You can’t argue with a rock.  So ideally we would now be on a field trip.  Instead, I offer you a short film made in the field by the Science Museum to accompany a lump of Hertfordshire Puddingstone that is featured in the Atmosphere Gallery, first opened in 2010.   Thanks to geology, the scientific case for human-induced climate change has recently become significantly more plausible.  New observational science based on cores taken from deep beneath the floor of the oceans offers crucial support and control for the computer-based forecasts of those creating models of future climate change.  Thanks to the work of the late...