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Communicating (Paleo)climate Science. Kim Cobb EAS, Georgia Inst. of Technology Acknowledgements Lab members: Intan Suci Nurhati Julien Emile-Geay Laura Zaunbrecher James Herrin Hussein Sayani EAS undergrads. with special thanks to: Norwegian Cruise Lines Palmyra Research Consortium

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Communicating (Paleo)climate Science

Kim Cobb

EAS, Georgia Inst. of Technology

Acknowledgements

Lab members:

Intan Suci Nurhati

Julien Emile-Geay

Laura Zaunbrecher

James Herrin

Hussein Sayani

EAS undergrads

with special thanks to:

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Palmyra Research Consortium

Sarawak Department of Forestry, Malaysia

NOAA, NSF


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  • Which of the following are scientific statements?

  • Reducing CO2 emissions would hurt the economy.

  • 2) Improved technology is the best way to slow global

  • warming.

  • 3) A warming of 1ºC over the next 50yrs is “dangerous”.

  • 4) Global temperatures were 5ºC colder during the Last

  • Glacial Maximum.

  • 5) Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming.


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  • Which of the following are scientific statements?

  • Reducing CO2 emissions would hurt the economy.

  • 2) Improved technology is the best way to slow global

  • warming.

  • 3) A warming of 1ºC over the next 50yrs is “dangerous”.

  • 4) Global temperatures were 5ºC colder during the Last

  • Glacial Maximum.

  • 5) Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming.


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Why do 99.999% of climate scientists believe

that CO2 is warming the planet?

  • Theory predicts that increasing atmospheric CO2 should warm the planet.

  • Geologic evidence links CO2 and temperature in the past.

  • The warming is unprecedented in the most recent centuries (dwarfs natural variability).

  • 4. Climate models show that rising CO2 is necessary to simulate

  • 20th century temperature trends (solar and volcanic minor players).


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Ice core climate and CO2 records

tiny gas bubbles

in the ice trap

ancient air samples


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#2

Atmospheric CO2 and temperature over the past 650 thousand years

CO2 and temperature

are closely linked

on geologic timescales


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To understand how climate has changed in the past, we need to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “paleoclimatic” sources:

key is to CALIBRATE to temperature records


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#3 to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “

The “Hockey Stick”

Key Points:

error bars increase as you go back in time

natural variability accounts for <0.5ºC over the last millennium

late 20th century temperature trend is unprecedentedin 1,000 years


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#4 to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “

anthropogenic only

Solar and volcanic only

Intergovernmental

Panel on

Climate Change

(IPCC) 2001

natural & anthropogenic


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The uncertain climate future to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “

Range of scenarios:

Strict international agreements  CO2 at 600ppm by 2100 *390ppm today

Mid-ground  850ppm by 2100 280ppm 1800

Business as usual  1200ppm by 2100

IPCC AR4, 2007


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but we need to know about to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “

regional climate changes, and specifically

about regional precipitation changes

white = models disagree

color = models mostly agree

stippled = models agree

IPCC AR4, 2007


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Research Goal: to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “constrain tropical Pacific response to anthropogenic

global warming

Approach: reconstruct tropical Pacific climate at high-resolution for

the last millennium

El Niño Temperature

WHY?

“El Niño-Southern Oscillation”

(ENSO)

ENSO is a climate pattern in the

tropical Pacific which arises

from coupled interactions between

the atmosphere and ocean

ENSO impacts global climate every

2-7 years (huge impact on rainfall)

El Niño Precipitation

Dai and Wigley, 2000


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Research Questions to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “

How has the tropical Pacific climate system responded to CO2 forcing?

What aspects of present tropical

Pacific climate are unprecedented?

compare last several

decades to recent centuries

Palmyra

1997-?

Fanning

2005-?

Christmas

1998-?


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Corals: The geologic record of El Niño to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “

Living Porites corals provide records

for the last 200 years

CORALS from the tropical Pacific

record El Niño’s in the geochemistry

of their skeletons

Fossil Porites corals enable us to extend the record back many centuries


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Palmyra coral to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “oxygen isotopes vs. tropical Pacific SST


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Overlapping fossil corals: ancient El Niño events to use records of climate preserved in ice cores, ancient tree rings, coral bands, and other “

Good reproducibility between coral geochemical records

increases confidence in coral climate reconstructions.


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A millennium-long reconstruction of tropical Pacific temperature

Key climate observations:

1) late 20th century warming is unprecedented in the last millennium

2) no cooling during the Northern Hemisphere’s “Little Ice Age”

3) significant cooling implied during the NH’s “Medieval Warm Period”


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THIS IS THE END OF MY temperature

SCIENCE PRESENTATION



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Paleoclimate data have temperature

strong visual, intuitive

appeal.

Their dismissal by a

large fraction of the climate

science community

hasn’t helped cement

their contributions, nor

utilize their full potential.

But this is changing …


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The Pyramid of temperature

Climate Consensus

Is anthropogenic CO2 warming the planet?

yes or no?


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The Pyramid of temperature

Climate Consensus

What are the impacts of AGW?

(what? how much? by when?)

Is anthropogenic CO2 warming the planet?

yes or no?


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The Pyramid of temperature

Climate Consensus

What should

be done about it?

What are the impacts of AGW?

(what? how much? by when?)

Is anthropogenic CO2 warming the planet?

yes or no?


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How climate scientists can help temperature

  • Appreciate the differences between climate science and

  • climate policy.

climate

scientist

policy

advocate

??


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How climate scientists can help temperature

  • Appreciate the differences between climate science and

  • climate policy.

  • Denounce sloppy science from both extremes of the

  • climate science debate. (climate skeptics, IPCC WG2)

climate

scientist

policy

advocate

??


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How climate scientists can help temperature

  • Appreciate the differences between climate science and

  • climate policy.

  • Denounce sloppy science from both extremes of the

  • climate science debate. (climate skeptics, IPCC WG2)

  • Publish data in data repositories with new standards for

  • climate metadata.

climate

scientist

policy

advocate

??


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How climate scientists can help temperature

  • Appreciate the differences between climate science and

  • climate policy.

  • Denounce sloppy science from both extremes of the

  • climate science debate. (climate skeptics, IPCC WG2)

  • Publish data in data repositories with new standards for

  • climate metadata.

  • 4) Engage public, policymakers, skeptics in science of climate

  • change, with the pyramid of consensus always in mind.

climate

scientist

policy

advocate

??


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How climate scientists can help temperature

  • Appreciate the differences between climate science and

  • climate policy.

  • Denounce sloppy science from both extremes of the

  • climate science debate. (climate skeptics, IPCC WG2)

  • Publish data in data repositories with new standards for

  • climate metadata.

  • 4) Engage public, policymakers, skeptics in science of climate

  • change, with the pyramid of consensus always in mind.

  • 5) Remove existing structural impediments to outreach, consider

  • creating new structures to aid outreach. (Beyond RC?)

climate

scientist

policy

advocate

??


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Some thoughts on the IPCC temperature

from Judy Curry

As the IPCC turns 22, needs to address the question:

“What do I want to be when I grow up?”