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What is the scientific consensus on climate change and impacts? University of Washington Program on Climate Change.

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Presentation on theme: "What is the scientific consensus on climate change and impacts? University of Washington Program on Climate Change."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is the scientific consensus on climate change and impacts? University of Washington Program on Climate Change

2 Who we are… Graduate Students, University of Washington Program on Climate Change Lia Slemons Robert Hahn

3 "I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take power from them, but to inform them by education." - Thomas Jefferson 3rd President of U.S. Author of the Declaration of Independence

4 Outline What are greenhouse gases? How do they affect climate? What will the future look like? air water storms and drought What can we do?

5 Greenhouse effect Source: Murray ca. 2005 GHG GHGs reradiate some escaping energy back towards the surface, making the temperature warmer GHG Sunlight heats the earth To maintain an equilibrium, Earth reradiates the energy to space Greenhouse gases absorb this energy GHG

6 Human sources of Greenhouse Gases Source: Earth Trends 2008 ~50% of CO 2 emissions to atmosphere are currently from humans Fossil fuel burning represents 81% of human sources of GHGs

7 U.S. 186.1 European Union 127.8 Russia 68.4 Ukraine 21.7 Poland 14.4 China 57.6 Japan 31.2 Australia 7.6 India 15.5 Kazakhstan 10.1 South Africa 8.5 Canada 14.9 Mexico 7.8 Trinidad and Tobago United Arab Emirat es Kuwait Total CO 2 emissions since 1950 in billions of tons Time, 2001

8 Global Energy trends U.S. has ~4% of global population, and contributes ~25% of global CO 2 emissions. China now emits more CO 2 than the U.S. (International Energy Agency, 2007) After 2010, China is predicted to surpass the U.S. to become the worlds largest consumer of energy. Earth Trends 2008

9 CO 2 1958 to present Year CO 2 (ppm) CO 2 concentrations have increased since 1958 Estimated increase of about 30% since 1850 (280 ppm to 370 ppm)

10 Instrumental Temperature Record Source: NOAA Δ Temperature ( C ) Δ Temperature ( F )

11 More Evidence: Ice Cores Ice layers preserve information about each year Sources: NOAA, GISP2 websites

12 Ice Core Evidence CO 2 and temperature, 420,000 BP to present Source: various, (1) Vostok assembled by Davies 2000, (2) GISP2 Today 2050 2100??

13 Using Computer Models to Understand Climate Natural Climate Influence Human Climate Influence All Climate Influences

14 Impacts of Climate Change Regional focus on China

15 Typhoon Saomai (Aug. 06) Most powerful storm ever to strike mainland China. Landfall was in Zhejiang Province 458 deaths--most were caused by storm surge flooding in coastal fishing communities. $2.5 billion (2006 USD) in damage -- 4.9 billion yuan in Zhejiang alone. Six reservoirs in Jiangxi Province were destroyed.

16 Temperature & Precipitation Patterns Source: IPCC ARW4, Session 1, Figure 10.9 Will the wet will get wetter and the dry will get drier? --Dr. Isaac Held Source: GFDL Modeling Research Highlights

17 What Causes the Precipitation Changes? Poleward Expansion of the Hadley Cells associated with weakened equator-to-pole temperature gradients. Source: Eastern Illinois University

18 Regional Impacts: Chinas Water Resources Anticipated decrease river runoff in northern China: Would worsen existing water shortage and deplete groundwater. Increased evaporation in each watershed (up to 15%): Would increase the likelihood of drought. Increased evaporation + changing precipitation patterns: Would reduce wetlands, lose biodiversity, and increase extinctions. Decreased snowpack and glaciation: Would make western China more drought-susceptible. Source: Chinas National Assessment Report on Climate Change

19 Regional Impacts: Chinas Agriculture Warmer weather in the past several decades has changed agriculture: - Wheat production has expanded north and west. -Climate change would result in reduced yield of rice, maize, and wheat (up to 37% by 2100). Source: Chinas National Assessment Report on Climate Change

20 Air quality Coal meets 2/3 of Chinas energy needs. The burning of coal produces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Urban air pollution accounted for 3.4% of all deaths in 2001. (Disease Control Priorities Project 2006) Beijing raised the sulfur pollution tax and offset the cost of installing sulfur dioxide scrubbers for power plants in 2006. (Earth Trends 2008) Coal miner from Linfen, China State Environmental Protection Agency Coal miner from Kansas, U.S. Kansas Historical Society

21 Our Future Depends on Our Choices Policy : International agreements After Kyoto Protocol, new talks in Bali National and regional laws US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement WA voters: by 2020, 15% state power from renewable energy Chinas goal: 2020, 16% renewable energy Personal: Reduce energy use: at home: heating, light drive less, drive efficiently As a consumer support businesses that are energy conscious Get political vote Choices require value judgments and long-term planning

22 Summary Human-induced climate change is apparent and will increase into the future. Temperature change is more certain than changes in precipitation. Precipitation change can profoundly impact groundwater, agriculture, drought and flooding. Human health effects of coal are both short-term because of air quality and long-term because of climate change. Todays choices will impact the future.

23 The End. Questions? University of Washington Program on Climate Change

24 Our Future Depends on Our Choices The technology needed to decrease emissions while still powering our world exists today The problem becomes more tractable if we attack it in The problem becomes more tractable if we attack it in wedges. Other wedges: Nuclear power, Reduced vehicle usage, More effiecient buildings, Biomass fuels, wind hydrogen cars, More efficient power plants, Reduced deforestation, Conservation tillage, More efficient power plants … Possible wedges: Wind power (50 times current capacity) Carbon capture and storage (3,500 Sleipners) Efficient Vehicles (Change 2 billion cars from 60mpg to 30mpg) Source: Pacala and Socalo 2004

25 2004 Emissions per capita IPCC 4th Assessment Report, 2007

26 Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1900-1999 World Resources Institute


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