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Climate-related impacts Does GCOS have a role? Michael Glantz GCOS 13-16 October 2008 Geneva, Switzerland u8480e/U8480E2t.jpg.

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Presentation on theme: "Climate-related impacts Does GCOS have a role? Michael Glantz GCOS 13-16 October 2008 Geneva, Switzerland u8480e/U8480E2t.jpg."— Presentation transcript:

1 Climate-related impacts Does GCOS have a role? Michael Glantz GCOS October 2008 Geneva, Switzerland u8480e/U8480E2t.jpg

2 Global warmings Tipping points IPCC 1st to 3rd Assessments IPCC 4th Assessment Inconvenient Truth Nobel Prize

3 The Spotlight has shifted From … WG 1 IPCC SCIENCE To … WG 2 IPCC IMPACTS

4 Problem Climates In The Earths Problem Climates Trewartha (1960) wrote that… Many areas [of the earth] are climatically so normal or usual that they require little comment in a book which professes to emphasize the exceptional In Weather and Climate R.C. Sutcliffe (1960) wrote that… No climates are normal

5 What about …Climate? 1984

6 The climate future is arriving earlier than expected Some of the changes associated with a warmer climate are appearing faster than expected –Melting of the Arctic sea ice –Greenland ice sheet melting –Rising sea level –Warm ecosystems moving upslope –Glaciers melting globally

7 Melting Glaciers Columbia Glacier, Alaska

8 5 Aspects of Climate Climate variability Climate fluctuations Climate change New global climate state Extreme meteorological events SEASONALITY

9 Perceptions of Climate Climate as a constraint Climate as a hazard Climate as a resource

10 Perceptions of risk (preceptions "R" Us) Risk taking Risk averse Risk making Source: B. Fischhoff

11 How are we doing it? Wholesaling and Retailing climate, water and weather science Wholesaling Broadcasting –What it is –Why is it useful information –Who should use it? Retailing Tailoring –How to use it in specific locations, sectors, activities –Convincing people of it value –Demonstrating its usability

12 Perception of Climates Impacts on Agriculture weather Weather USDA 1984

13 Reality of Climates Impacts on Agriculture drought USDA 1984

14 Commoners 4 Laws of Ecology 1) Everything is connected to everything else. 2) Everything must go somewhere. 3) Nature knows best. 4) There is no such thing as a free lunch. Could these also be the 4 Laws of Climate ?

15 Climate Change Impacts on the United States, USGCRP, 2000

16 Climate Science Understand the climate system Understand its components Society is an integral component

17 Climate Science in the 21 st Century Understand the Climate System Understand its components Understand its components Society is a component Society is a component

18 Coping with climate change and its impacts Mitigation Adaptation Prevention Bring back prevention

19 Physical changes are to be expected Societal changes are also to be expected

20 EWSs more important than some governments might realize

21 Creeping Environmental Problems. Why care? To improve an understanding of rates of change, the processes that drive and respond to them, both natural and human To underscore the importance of the human contribution to global environmental change –Most environmental changes in which humans are involved are of the creeping kind Solutions to CEPs are also likely to be late, incremental and less effective (adaptive) than having addressed them early (mitigative or preventive), if left unaddressed To generate a wake-up call to politicians about the importance of early warning systems (monitoring with an attitude)

22 Shanghai Harbor societal changes Photographs taken from same location

23 Societies are having to adapt to subtle Creeping Environmental Changes Urban heat island Air pollution Acid rain Global warming Ozone depletion Soil erosion Deforestation Mangrove destruction Desertification Water quality & quantity Increasing population Increasing affluence Increasing demands for energy

24 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment The equivalent of the IPCC Review this document for enhancement of the GCOS mission

25 What one generation leaves for the next generation Natural changes; different timescales Human induced; not all changes are bad The proverbial 11 th hour; little time to act Too costly, too late. Move on. Focus here This level captures attention Changes become critical Thresholds of environmental change

26 Why Care about Hotspots? Avoid surprises Earliest warning of possible instabilities –Governmental vulnerability –Environmental degradation Crossing unforeseen thresholds –Economic progress –Human health and public safety –Food security and insecurity

27 raffensperger/sld007.htm Precautionary Principle Late lessons from early warning European Environment Agency

28 Words Matter: The concept of climate proofing Similar to other idealistic goals, such as Eradicating poverty No child left behind MDGs by 2015 Sustainable development It is a feel safe and feel good concept But… is it realistic? Does it raise false hopes? Toward Climate Proofing is more correct!

29 Proposed geo-engineering schemes to control climate After Kellogg & Schneider REDIRECTING AGULHAS CURRENT TOWING ICEBERGS CREATE THERMAL MOUNTAINS HYDROPOLE TOW ICEBERGS Damming the Med South-North water diversions in China * And now … aerosol injections to the stratosphere

30 Christian Kerr, Australian writer (25 May 2005) We can't drought proof Australia. What we can do is try to idiot proof public policy – and spend public money in the way that delivers the best possible outcomes.

31 People and the seasons People, societies, and economies are attuned to the normal (expected, not actual) flow of the seasons Most people on the globe depend on the normal flow of the seasons for their food supply

32 Temperature Anomalies (July 2001 compared to July 2003) Deadly Heat Wave in Europe, 2003

33 2005 was a Busy, Destructive, Deadly & Expensive Hurricane Season Source:, December 7, set a new record for the number of hurricanes & tropical storms at 26, breaking the old record set in All 21 names were used for the first time ever, so Greek letters were used for the final 5 storms: Alpha though Epsilon

34 Global warming and changes in seasonality People live by the expected flow of the seasons Hunting season, growing season, harvest time, disease outbreaks, rainy season, water season, etc. Rainfall timing, intensity, location, extremes are expected to change Societal activities that are climate, water and weather dependent will be affected in subtle ways.

35 Summary thoughts

36 Plethora of forecasters: too many cooks in the kitchen? Many forecast models Heavy competition to get it right and to be first doing so (onset, intensity, duration, impacts)

37 Integrating knowledge We must distinguish between what is interesting and what is essential to know to cope with climate change and its impacts. develop methods to link and integrate quantitative and qualitative knowledge, compiled for different time and space scales in different environments. bushbook/images/image81.gif

38 Climate Equity and Ethics Inter-generational versus intra- generational equity Environmental justice Downwind Downstream Natural disasters and poverty (the poor tend to live in high risk zones) North-South views on climate change Polluter Pays Principle (except if you are the polluter!) Precautionary Principle (better to be be safe now than sorry later) Natures Bank analogy (everyone knows about banks)

39 Priority setting Governments and institutions must decide about how they are going cope: preventive, adaptive, mitigative responses to climate change and its impacts, local to global. Not to do this puts responses to climate change and impacts in an ad hoc piecemeal modus operandi dd/report10/report10.gif

40 Why I think time is important to GCOS (and the WMO) GCOS has a window of opportunity Focus is shifting from IPCC Assessment for WG1 (Climate Science) to WG2 (Climate Impacts) Decision makers want to know about impacts in their jurisdictions Ecosystems make up the interface between society and the atmosphere (climate)

41 The way ahead for countries Many preventive, mitigative and adaptive strategies and tactics proposed for coping with climate change and its impacts on human activities and ecological processes are worth doing, even in the absence of a climate change. The key is to assure that such strategies are not just identified but implemented and supported by adequate resources for monitoring

42 and Walking on two legs science and society In 1970s: Science for the People In 2000: Science with the People Uppsala Universitet: Field Season 1999 Sharing Science with the People (called stakeholders) Campaign button considered radical at the time

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