Published on April 7, 2008
Slide1: SAGES Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment & Society Observing and Modelling Climate Change Prof. Simon Tett, Chair of Earth System Dynamics & Modelling: The University of Edinburgh Outline: Outline Observing Climate Change Modelling Climate Causes of Historical Climate Change Projections of Future Climate Change Observing Climate Change:What is the problem?: Observing Climate Change: What is the problem? Observing system not stable Climate changes slowly Examples: Global mean temperatures are rising: Period Rate Years /decade From Kevin E. Trenberth, NCAR Global mean temperatures are rising Sea-ice (its ½ what it was): Sea-ice (its ½ what it was) Is this unexpected? Are we missing something fundamental in our understanding of the Earth system? Climate Modelling: Climate Modelling Climate modelling has long history – first attempts made in 1950’s. Developed from numerical weather prediction Which is how weather forecasting is done Take physical laws and apply them to atmosphere and oceans. But now very complex. Modelling the Climate System: Karl and Trenberth 2003 Modelling the Climate System Main Message: Lots of things going on! HadCM3: HadCM3 20 Ocean Levels 19 Atmospheric Levels Atmospheric resolution: 3.75 by 2.5 Ocean resolution :1.25 by 1.25 Many important processes occur on scales below that explicitly modelled.: Many important processes occur on scales below that explicitly modelled. What is there… How we model Uncertainties how to do this lead to uncertainties in prediction of climate change Natural Factors that might effect climate: Natural Factors that might effect climate Volcanoes inject aerosol into the upper atmosphere where it stays for 2-3 years. There it scatters sunlight back to space cooling the planet The sun may be a variable star with amount of energy reaching the earth changing over decades Important Human Factors: Important Human Factors Greenhouse gas concentrations have changed over the last century. As have emissions of sulphur and other aerosols Attribution: Attribution are observed changes consistent with expected responses to forcings inconsistent with alternative explanations Observations All forcing Solar+volcanic Understanding and Attributing Climate Change: Understanding and Attributing Climate Change Continental warming likely shows a significant anthropogenic contribution over the past 50 years Projections of Future Changes in Climate: Projections of Future Changes in Climate Best estimate for low scenario (B1) is 1.8°C (likely range is 1.1°C to 2.9°C), and for high scenario (A1FI) is 4.0°C (likely range is 2.4°C to 6.4°C). Projections of Future Changes in Climate: Projected warming in 21st century expected to be greatest over land and at most high northern latitudes and least over the Southern Ocean and parts of the North Atlantic Ocean Projections of Future Changes in Climate Projections of Future Changes in Climate: Projections of Future Changes in Climate Precipitation increases very likely in high latitudes Decreases likely in most subtropical land regions Extreme events: Extreme events Tewkesbury 2007Photograph: Daniel Berehulak/GettyImages Met Office provisional figures show that May to July in the England and Wales Precipitation is the wettest in a record that began in 1766. We must learn from the events of recent days. These rains were unprecedented, but it would be wrong to suppose that such an event could never happen again…. (Hazel Blears, House of Commons, July 2007) Is it human induced climate change or natural variability?