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A day in the life of a climate scientist. Questions How do we know about past climate? Examples of climate data What is it like to collect data, and what.

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Presentation on theme: "A day in the life of a climate scientist. Questions How do we know about past climate? Examples of climate data What is it like to collect data, and what."— Presentation transcript:

1 A day in the life of a climate scientist

2 Questions How do we know about past climate? Examples of climate data What is it like to collect data, and what do scientists do with it?

3 How do we know about past climate? Measurements: (from about 1850 on) History: books, farming records, art "I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.” Edward Munch, speaking about his painting “The Scream” that he painted in 1893

4 How do we know about past climate? Proxy data: something we can measure that tells us about something else we can’t measure. For example, I can look at the clothes you are wearing, and whether or not you are wet to guess what the weather and precipitation outside are like. If everyone is soaking wet and carrying an umbrella how likely is it that it was raining outside? 0%20%40%60%80% 100%

5 Examples of Proxy Data used for Climate Tree rings And Coral Ice cores Lake and ocean floors Soil Cave formations What do these sources of data have in common? What do you think scientists can learn from these?

6 More Examples of Proxy Data Fossils tell us where and when certain animals and plants lived, letting us know what the temperature and precipitation was like. Packrat Middens: nests that desert packrats made. They collected all kinds of plants, and animal waste, which are then “glued” together with their urine. They serve as a “time capsule” of the plants and animals that were around during the animals lifetime

7 Research in Antarctica Dave Schneider spends part of the year in Antarctica taking ice core data He analyzes it in laboratories to see how much oxygen and what kinds of oxygen are in it That helps him learn what the climate used to be like He also keeps track of what is happening in Antarctica now Here are some of his slides about his work and the businesses that help him do his research

8 Polar Climate Research David P. Schneider National Center for Atmospheric Research primary sponsor:

9 Geology major Loved field trips and the outdoors Fascinated by Greenland and Antarctic ice core data Enjoyed winter, found out polar field work not too harsh (in the summer!) Went to grad school, postdoc in Boulder, pursued ‘hot topics’ in polar science Currently compare data and models (desk job, but in Boulder!) My story

10 Antarctic Research Challenges Neff et al., 2008 REMOTE, HARSH ENVIRONMENT No permanent occupants Logistics are challenging and expensive FEW CLIMATE OBSERVATIONS Short climate records Large climate variability DIFFICULT TO MODEL Global climate models ‘adapted’ to the temperate and the tropical latitudes do not necessarily do well in the polar regions Scott’s hut at McMurdo, Antarctica

11 Dave’s recommended web-sites Documentary videos Colorado businesses that support polar research

12 Atmospheric Research "Careers in Atmospheric Science" video: Do these careers focus on observational data (measurements) or proxy data? Are you familiar with any atmospheric research happening now?

13 That’s right…. HIPPO What is the point of HIPPO? To measure how much of certain molecules and particles are in the air from the north to south pole, and from close to sea level all the way up to the next layer of the atmosphere (the stratosphere.. Most planes don’t go this high)

14 Why is this important? The information that HIPPO is getting from the atmosphere is unique. No-one has ever gotten observational data from this many parts of the world, and at all these different altitudes. Satellites can get some information about the atmosphere by sending radiation to the earth, but it is not as detailed as HIPPO information since they are measurements from far away. HIPPO lets us know how correct the satellite data is. Why does that matter?

15 Who runs HIPPO? It takes a team of scientists, managers, and technicians to make a project like this work

16 HIPPO in the News

17 Answers… How do we know about past climate? Examples of climate data What is it like to collect data, and what do scientists do with it?


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