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Visualizing the Science of Climate Change

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  1. Visualizing the Science of Climate Change Brian Martin Peter Mahaffy

  2. What do all of these images have in common?

  3. Acknowledments

  4. Jasper, Alberta

  5. UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) • Improve the quality of life for this and future generations, in a way that respects the planet we live on. • To do this we must learn constantly. • Challenge individuals, institutions and societies to view tomorrow as a day that belongs to all of us, or it will not belong to anyone. 

  6. Global Climate Change • The atmosphere of our planet • What is climate & is it changing? • Causes of change • Short and long term effects • How do humans respond to uncertain choices when the time scale is long?

  7. Different Regions of Earth’s Atmosphere • Exosphere • Thermosphere • Mesosphere • Stratosphere • Troposphere Stratosphere Troposphere w clouds @ top Space Shuttle Discovery 1995. Sunrise over West Indies

  8. Temperature Profile of Earth’s Atmosphere • Temperature of atmosphere controlled by 4 factors • Absorption of energy from the sun. • Heat production in interior of the earth. • Loss of energy by emission from the earth as a blackbody radiator. • Chemistry and photochemistry also play a role – especially: • Infrared absorption by gases in troposphere • Oxygen / ozone photochemistry in stratosphere

  9. Global Climate Change • The atmosphere of our planet • What is climate & is it changing? • Causes of change • Short and long term effects • How do humans respond to uncertain choices when the time scale is long?

  10. What is ‘Climate’? • Climate is ‘average weather’ • - and its variability • - for a particular region • - over a period of time • Includes many different elements • (Environment Canada – Edmonton)

  11. What is ‘climate change’? • Climate change is a shift in ‘climate’ relative to a given reference time period • It is caused by: Natural factors - Solar variability - Volcanic dust levels - Internal variability - Geological change Human factors • - Greenhouse gases • - Aerosols • - Ozone depletion • - Land use change (Environment Canada – Edmonton)

  12. Climate Change – A New Idea? • 1827: Fourier – theorized that greenhouse gases warm the planet • 1896: Arrhenius - proposed that changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to volcanic eruptions and the combustion of coal can cause climate change • 1938: Callendar – first noted that human emissions of CO2 may add significantly to natural concentrations in the atmosphere • 1957: Revelle et al. – first warned that human emissions have started a global scale geophysical experiment and initiated an atmospheric CO2 concentration monitoring program Environment Canada

  13. Is Climate Changing?Focus First on Mean Global Surface Temperature

  14. “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.” World Conference on The Changing Atmosphere: Toronto, June 1988

  15. Chemistry in Context

  16. WHO – from International Panel on Climate Change

  17. Global Climate Change • The atmosphere of our planet • What is climate & is it changing? • Causes of change • Short and long term effects • How do humans respond to uncertain choices when the time scale is long?

  18. How is Heat Trapped?Chemistry In Context

  19. Wavelength Distribution of Solar Radiation ? Chemistry in Context

  20. 6000 K 255 K Wavelength Distribution (non-linear scale)

  21. Interaction of Electromagnetic Radiation with Molecules

  22. Key Players - A Closer Look • Carbon Dioxide • Methane • Nitrous Oxide • CFCs and HCFCs • Water ! • Aerosols • Solar activity

  23. Carbon Dioxide – Mechanism for Tropospheric Warming ?

  24. Carbon Dioxide Concentration Trends Source: OSTP

  25. Chemistry in Context

  26. [CO2] and Temperature – Correlation?

  27. Per capita CO2 emissions – GlobalWikimedia Commons

  28. Photomicrograph of calcareous ooze www.soc.soton.ac.uk/.../photomicrographs/ BNFC-44PB_full.jpg

  29. Methane by Sector - Canada Residence time -12 years Global Warming Potential - 23

  30. Clathrates (methane hydrates) - Runaway Greenhouse Effect?

  31. Geomar Research Centre

  32. Nitrous Oxide (N2O) by Sector - Canada Residence time - 120 years ! Global Warming Potential – 296 !

  33. Harvey was a dentist, But now his career is through, 'Cause what he thought was N2O Was really NO2

  34. CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs

  35. “Super” Greenhouse Gases 100 year mass normalized global warming potential of 18,000 Relative to carbon dioxide

  36. Terraform Mars with Super Greenhouse Gases? Proceedings of Natl Academy of Sciences, Feb 2001

  37. Aerosols

  38. The Bottom Line?

  39. The International Panel on Climate Change is the principal source of sound advice on climate change science 1990 1992 1995 1997 2001 First Report RIO Second Report Kyoto Third Report Increasing Confidence Bonn & Marrakesh Cautious

  40. The IPCC progression in confidence FAR: "Our judgment is that the size of [global] warming is broadly consistent with predictions of climate models but it is also of the same magnitude as natural climate variability“ SAR: "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.“ TAR: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last50 years is attributable to human activities."