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Dr. Kyle Forinash Professor of Physics School of Natural Sciences Indiana University Southeast New Albany, IN,USA. What Do We Know About Climate Change?. Climate is what you expect, . weather is what you get . How Do We Get Climate Information?. Instruments for last 200 yr .

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Dr. Kyle Forinash

Professor of Physics

School of Natural Sciences

Indiana University Southeast

New Albany, IN,USA

What Do We Know About Climate Change?

Climate is what you expect
Climate is what you expect,

weather is what you get.

How do we get climate information
How Do We Get Climate Information?

Instruments for last 200yr.

Tree Rings for last 10,000yr.

Ocean and Lake Sediment for last 125,000yr:

  • Tri- and di-saturated alkenones in plankton;

  • Micro fossils, pollen;

  • Oxygen isotopes;

  • Heavy metal uptake in coral;

  • Inorganic debris.

    Ice Cores for last 800,000yr:

  • CO2 & Methane from air bubbles;

  • Temperature from deuterium, oxygen and nitrogen isotopes, aerosols;

  • Volcanic activity from aerosols;

  • Solar activity from beryllium isotopes.

What causes the these changes
What Causes the These Changes?


  • The sun (duh)!

  • Orbital parameters.

  • The atmosphere.

  • ENSO (El Niño), NAO, etc.

  • Volcanoes, meteors (aerosols, particulates).


  • Ocean and air circulation patterns.

  • Clouds.

  • Albedo.

  • Atmospheric Changes.


  • Pushes system away from equilibrium.

  • Can work in both directions.

  • But: Albedo feedback is NOT strong enough to produce ice ages.

All objects emit infrared radiation ir
All Objects Emit Infrared Radiation; (IR).

We ve known co 2 ch 4 and h 2 o absorb ir since 1859 o 2 and n 2 do not
We’ve Known CO2, CH4 and H2O Absorb IR Since 1859! (O2 and N2 do not)

With an atmosphere co 2 h 2 o ch 4 we get the right temperature
With an Atmosphere (CO2, H2O, CH4) We Get the Right Temperature.



15C – just right!

Co 2 ch 4 and h 2 o act as big feedbacks
CO2, CH4 (and H2O) Act as BIG Feedbacks.

Temperatures are increasing
Temperatures Are Increasing.

Alaska: Face of

Glacier in 2001

Alaska: Face of

Glacier in 1951

Temperature isn t all that is changing
Temperature Isn’t All That is Changing.

  • Permafrost is melting.

  • Earlier springtime.

  • Changes in migration patterns.

  • Changes in plant growth patterns.

  • Ocean acidification.

Are We Missing Anything?

  • El Niño (ENSO).

  • NAO.

  • Other Ocean Patterns.

  • Clouds.

  • Sea mixing.

  • Precipitation.

Let s get a computer to do the calculations
Let’s Get a Computer to do the Calculations!

And Include:

  • More atmospheric layers;

  • Variations in sea and land surface temperature;

  • Stratosphere and troposphere temperature;

  • Temperature variations between daily extremes;

  • Sea level changes;

  • Average precipitation;

  • Ice coverage; ocean circulation;

  • Frequency and intensity of extreme weather events;

  • Deviations in atmospheric water vapor.

What do we know for sure
What Do We Know for Sure?

No doubts:

  • 35% increase in CO2 in 250yr due to human activities;

  • 0.6C temperature increase in last 100yr;

  • 20cm sea level rise in last 100yr;

  • 15% decrease in arctic sea ice in 40yr.

    Very High Confidence (90%):

  • Temperature increase in the past 30yr due to green house gases;

  • Glaciers shrinking, permafrost melting;

  • Shifts in timing of peak river flow due to earlier spring snow melting;

  • 28,000+ cases of changes in biological marine and land systems.

What about the future
What about the future?

Very High Confidence (90%):

  • Continued emission will lead to an increase in temperature of 1.4C to 5C in next 100 yr;

  • Sea levels will rise by 40cm in next 100yr;

  • Precipitation patterns will shift;

  • Hurricane and typhoon intensity will increase.

    Likely (>66%):

  • Permanent submersion of some islands and coastal areas;

  • Food and water shortages;

  • More species extinctions;

  • Increased death during heat waves;

  • Migration of pests including infectious diseases;

What can we do
What Can We Do?

  • Energy Conservation.

  • Alternative Energy (solar, wind, nuclear, biomass).

  • Capture Negative External Costs (the True Cost of Fossil Fuels):

    • Carbon tax;

    • Carbon trading;

    • Tax incentives, rebates;

    • Subsidies.

Why the doubt about climate
Why the doubt about climate?

  • What do you read? Human caused climate change:

    • Scientific (peer reviewed) articles: 928 yes; 0 no.

    • Popular journals: 88% “balanced” (i.e. both positions presented).

      • ~50 denying scientists, some not even climate scientists.

      • 2000+ climate experts on just the IPCC committees.

  • IPCC: Very conservative process!

  • Follow the money:

    • Exxon-Mobil: $16 million to 43 organizations over 7 years to confuse the public on climate.

    • IPCC scientists: not paid to write IPCC reports.

Kyle Forinash

Indiana University Southeast


Island Press, July 2010