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GLOBAL WARMING Andrew Goudie St Cross College Oxford GLOBAL WARMING - AN UPDATE.

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Presentation on theme: "GLOBAL WARMING Andrew Goudie St Cross College Oxford GLOBAL WARMING - AN UPDATE."— Presentation transcript:

1 GLOBAL WARMING Andrew Goudie St Cross College Oxford GLOBAL WARMING - AN UPDATE

2 OBJECTIONS If warming is taking place, it is due to solar activity Satellite observations do not show warming trend Only urban centres are warming Past changes have been large and rapid, yet we survived Higher carbon dioxide levels fertilize Some environments will be nicer under warming Changes in the ocean conveyor could cause cooling Increased cloud cover will dampen down warming Models give very different scenarios No continuous warming in 20 th century

3 SUPPORT The world is getting warmer Greenhouse gas levels are spiralling There is evidence from ice cores of past links between greenhouse gas levels and climate Sensitive environments are already adversely affected and there are hot spots where modest changes cause major responses There are tipping points and positive feedbacks (e.g. Switching off the fridge causes putrefaction)

4 HOT SPOTS Ice bodies sensitive to wave attack as ice shelves retreat Valley glaciers Permafrost – negative mean annual temperatures Coral reefs in hot water – 30 o C threshold Hurricane prone coasts – 27 o C threshold Dunes at vegetation threshold

5 IPCC, 2007 Main boxes are last 10,000 years, small inset boxes are since 1750 Carbon dioxide Methane Nitrous oxide

6 IPCC 2007



9 SNOWPACK Long term monitoring of mountain snowpacks in the W. USA and Europe have shown trends towards decreasing snowpack depth (50-75%) though this depends on such features as the North Atlantic Oscillation and degree of continentality

10 FIRE Warmer temperatures and less snowpack appear to be increasing the duration and intensity of wild fires in the western US Since 1986 there has been a 4x increase of major wildfires and a 6x increase in the area burned, compared to the period from 1970-1986 (Westerling et al., 2006).


12 WARMING IPCC 2007 says that warming this century will be around 2-6 degrees There will be greater warming than the average in high latitudes This will produce the greatest warmth of the last 3 million years In geological terms the rate of change will be high.

13 Latitudinal gradient of precipitation change

14 IPCC 2007 Drylands will tend to get drier

15 PRECIPITATION CHANGE Overall global increase Some intensification of tropical circulation Northward displacement of sinking Hadley cell air More moisture availability in cold regions Increase in UK winter rainfall and decrease in summer rainfall Changes in rainfall intensity

16 Oxford

17 SINKING HOUSES Higher evapotranspiration loss of moisture Lower summer rainfall Drying of clay subsoils 1976 was once in a thousand year event, by 2076 more likely to be a one in five year event.

18 STREAM RUNOFF In arid regions, an increase of temperature by c 2 degrees, and a reduction in precipitation of c 10% can lead to a discharge reduction of c 60 or more %.

19 Hadley Centre predictions of change in runoff by 2050

20 Large areas of Holocene and late Pleistocene dunes are ready to move They were active in Holocene drought phases They are on the border between vegetated stability and unvegetated reactivation

21 A black blizzard in the dirty thirties

22 Sea water temperature threshold of 27oC Increase in geographical spread? Increase in intensity? Increase in frequency? Warm water is not the only control of hurricane formation

23 HURRICANES AND WARMING Walsh (2004) says no detectable changes in hurricane characteristics that can be ascribed to global warming Goldenberg et al (2001) show Atlantic hurricanes have not shown trend like variability over the last century but multi-decadal cycles Knutson & Tuleyas (2001) simulations suggest 5-12% increase in wind speeds for 2.2 degree C rise in SST Emanuel (2005) has found hurricanes have become increasingly destructive as SSTs have warmed over last 30 years

24 THE RHINE – SHABALOVA ET AL The Rhines discharge will become markedly more seasonal with mean discharge decreases of about 30% in summer, and increases by about 30 percent in winter by the end of the century The summer decrease is due to decrease in precipitation + increase in evapotranspiration The winter increase is caused by increased precipitation, reduced snow storage and increased early melt

25 ALTITUDINAL SHIFT IN VEGETATION Lapse rates suggest that vegetation will shift c 180 m for every degree rise in temperature This implies that vegetation belts (and snowlines, etc.) will migrate by some hundreds of metres.



28 PERIGLACIAL AREAS Retreat of permafrost Thermokarst Removal of glue from slopes Erosion of shores and banks Deeper active layer – debris flows, etc. Change in runoff seasonality



31 THE BIG ISSUE Ice sheets will be subjected to increased ablation (melting), the buoyancy effects of rising sea levels, the effects of ice shelf disappearance on wave attack, and the wasting effects of warmer oceans On the other hand, higher temperatures will lead to more snowfall and thus to higher rates of accumulation

32 GLACIERS Since Little Ice Age general retreat of c 20-70m per year Glaciers of European Alps have lost c 50% of their volume since the LIA Tidewater glaciers retreat especially quickly – The Columbia glacier in Alaska retreated 13km between 1982 and 2000 East African glaciers occupy one third to one sixth of former area They provide a lot of water – when it has gone it has gone.

33 cm

34 20th century rate of rise = < 2mm per year 21 st century rate of rise = c 6 mm per year c Half will be due to Steric effect

35 SUBSIDING AREAS Deltas, atolls Tectonic sinking Isostatic compensation Groundwater and hydrocarbon removal Compaction of organic sediments

36 SENSITIVE COASTS Beaches Salt marshes Mangrove swamps Deltas Coral reefs Lagoons Estuaries


38 Subsidence Accelerating sea level rise Diversion of flow to other mouths Reduction in nourishment due to embankments Reduction of silt loads by cascades of dams


40 CORAL REEFS Increase in sea surface temperatures will cause stress (bleaching) or stimulus Increase in storm frequency and intensity will build up islands, erode reefs, change species composition Increase in sea levels will stimulate reef growth (if slow), but will cause inundation (if fast) or if corals are stressed by siltation

41 SALT MARSH VULNERABILITY Less sensitive – areas of high sediment input, areas of high tidal range (with high sediment transport potential), areas with effective organic accumulation More sensitive – areas of subsidence, areas of low sediment input, slow growing mangroves, micro-tidal areas, reef settings (lack of allogenic sediment), constrained by sea walls

42 BRUUN RULE About 100 m of erosion for 1 m rise in sea level on sandy beach DEPOSITION EROSION

43 ACCELERATING COASTAL EROSION Sea level rise and the Bruun Rule Reduced beach nourishment because of dams and defences Increasing storm activity?

44 GLOBAL WARMING AND HAZARDS Droughts and dunes and dust Fires Hurricanes Permafrost degradation Glacier retreat Sea-level rise Coast erosion

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