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The Climate Change Challenge

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Title: The Climate Change Challenge


1
The Climate Change Challenge Sound Waters
February 4, 2006
Dr. Richard Gammon Professor of Chemistry,
Oceanography, Atmospheric Science
(Adj) Co-Director, Program on the
Environment University of Washington
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Extensive recent coverage in national weeklies
and monthlies
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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2001 Under the auspices of the World
Meteorological Organization and the United
Nations Environmental Program gt 100 Nations
(Including all Industrialized Nations) have
Accepted these Findings www.ipcc.ch
5
Main Findings of IPCC
  • Climate change is underway and the early impacts
    are already visible.
  • Climate impacts over the next 100 years will be
    much more significant than over the past 100
    years.
  • Natural systems are the most vulnerable because
    of their sensitivity to climate and limited
    capacity to adapt.

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Physical signal observed changes in ice and
snow cover
South Cascade Glacier, 1928 and 2000
  • Duration of ice cover on rivers and lakes has
    decreased by 2.5 weeks over the last century in
    mid- high latitude areas
  • Arctic sea ice loss in area (10 - 15) and
    thickness (40) over the last half century.
  • Decline in snow cover (10) for N hemisphere
    since 1960
  • World-wide retreat in alpine glaciers over last
    century
  • Widespread changes in permafrost

IPCC
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Source OSTP
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Main Findings of IPCC
  • More frequent, intense weather extremes and
    severe impacts expected. Surprises are
    possible.
  • Developing countries and poor communities in
    developed countries are most vulnerable.
  • Adaptation can reduce impacts, but its costly
    and some damages are inevitable.
  • Win-win options exist, if action is swift.

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Observed vs. modeled temperature rise since 1860
IPCC
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Projected Changes in Annual Temperatures for the
2050s
The projected change is compared to the present
day with a 1 increase per year in equivalent CO2
Source The Met Office. Hadley Center for Climate
Prediction and Research
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Ocean Shores, WA
Sea-Level Rise
  • Thermal expansion and glacier/icecap melting
  • 4 to 8 inches over the last century
  • IPCC projects 4 to 35 inches this century
  • Erodes beaches and wetlands, inundates
    low-lying areas

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Costs of extreme weather events
IPCC
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PNW trends, expected impacts
Source for PNW impacts UW Climate Impacts
Group http//tao.atmos.washington.edu/PNWimpacts/
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Temperature trends in the PNW
  • 113 stations with long records
  • Almost every station shows warming
  • Urbanization not a major source of warming

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Trends in timing of spring snowmelt (1948-2000)
20d later 20d earlier
Courtesy of Mike Dettinger, Iris Stewart, Dan
Cayan
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Climate change in the PNW
Warmer, wetter winters. Warmer
summers. Estimated climate change from 20th
century to the 2040s using 8 climate model
scenarios (summerApril-September, winter
October-March).
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The Main Impact Less Snow
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Snowpack loss Western Washingon and Oregon are
especially sensitive
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Municipal water supply
For western Washington rivers (Sultan, Tolt,
Cedar, Green) in the 2040s Winter 30 to
40 Summer -20 to 30
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Climate disruption and forest health
Rise in disturbances due to warm winters, hot
summers pest, diseases, fires
Loss of forests after disturbances difficulty
regenerating in dry, hot summer conditions
The pine beetle has destroyed an area over twice
as big as Vancouver Island 4.2 billion in
timber losses - BC Ministry of Forests
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Climate disruption and NW Salmon
  • Increased winter flooding habitat destruction
  • Decreased summer and fall streamflow
  • Higher stream and ocean temperatures
  • Salmon impacts symptomatic of larger water
    resource impacts

For the factors we can simulate with some
confidence, the prospects for many PNW salmon
stocks look bleak - UW Climate Impacts
Group
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Solutions UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change
  • Foundation of international efforts to combat
    global warming
  • Objective stabilize GHG concentrations in the
    atmosphere at a level that would prevent
    dangerous human interference with the climate
    system
  • Kyoto protocol sets binding limits Ratified by
    over 100 nations emission trading and markets
    are evolving rapidly

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CO2 Emissions and Concentrations The
environment responds to concentrations
aggressive emission reduction needs to begin
quickly
IPCC
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