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Understanding and Preparing for Climate Change: Status of Global Climate Change Impacts and Responses

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Title: Understanding and Preparing for Climate Change: Status of Global Climate Change Impacts and Responses


1
The Changing Climate
Dr. Michael MacCracken Climate Institute 26
October 2005
Photo taken from first Apollo flight to the Moon,
December, 1968
2
To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue
and beautiful in that eternal silence where it
floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the
Earth together, brothers on that bright
loveliness in the eternal cold brothers who know
now they are truly brothers.
Archibald MacLeish American writer The New York
Times 25 December 1968
3

The World at Night
4
Height of bar is proportional to the per person
emissions of carbon (in tonnes) from burning
coal, oil, and natural gas and from
deforestation Width of bar is proportional to
the regions population (in millions) Area of
bar is thus proportional to total emissions from
each region
5
Annual global emissions of CO2 (as C) now
exceed6.5 GtC from fossil fuels and about 1 GtC
from deforestation
Emissions GtC or billions (109) of tonnes of
carbon
Year
6
Record of the Concentration of Carbon Dioxide
(CO2) at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii
The magnitude of the seasonal cycle has
increased, suggesting that, even with a reduced
amount of vegetation, the higher CO2
concentration is enhancing the seasonal growth of
vegetation
Observations by C. David Keeling
ppmvparts per million by volume
7
Coral reefs are threatened by both ocean warming
and the rising CO2 concentration
Source Kleypas, Buddemeier, et al., Science,
1999 and U.S. National Assessment.
8
Most areas of the Earth warmed during the 20th
century, with average surface temperature
increasing by about 0.8ºC
50 areal coverage gt66 years of data
35 areal coverage gt24 years of data
72 areal coverage gt20 years of data
77 areal coverage gt16 years of data
Source NOAA/NCDC
9
The area-weighted changes in surface air
temperature indicate warming over both land and
ocean of about 0.8ºC
Source NOAA/NCDC through 2004
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An increase in the average of a distribution can
lead to very large changes in the probability
that cold and hot extremes may be experienced.
14
Observations in the US (and also elsewhere)
indicate that occurrences of heavy rainfall and
high streamflow are increasing--and this trend is
projected to continue
All models project an increase in extreme rains.
The Canadian Climate Model results suggest that
by 2100, what are now 100-year storms will be
occurring about every 30 years
15
Hurricanes appear to be intensifying and
releasing more energy, and we have become more
vulnerable due to more coastal residents and
buildings
Hurricanes are becoming more intense
Hurricane models project warming will further
intensify hurricanes
Ocean temperatures are rising
Source Knutson and Tuleya, Science, 2004
Source Webster et al., Science, 2005
16
Global sea level is projected to rise by about 9
to 88 cm (4 to 35 inches) during the 21st
century, with a mid-range value likely
Contributions to global sea level rise are
projected to come mainly from thermal expansion
of ocean waters and melting of mountain glaciers.
Changes in Greenland and Antarctica are projected
to approximately balance.
Global sea level rose 10-20 cm (4 to 8 inches)
during the 20th century
17
The Gulf and East coasts are particularly
vulnerable to projected sea level rise
Coastal islands and wetlands are the shock
absorbers in the event of hurricanes
18
Coastal regions will be exposed to rising sea
level and higher storm surges
purple
19
Examples of key regional consequences within the
US
Region Environmental Consequences Economic Consequences Consequences to People
Northeast Wetland inundation Reduced wintertime recreation Rising summertime heat index
Southeast Loss of coastal ecosystems changing forests Increasing productivity of hardwood forests Increased coastal flooding longer, hotter summers
Midwest Higher lake and river temperatures alter fish species Increasing agricultural productivity Lowered lake and river levels hotter summers
Great Plains Warmer winters allow more invasive species Increasing agricultural productivity Worsened climatic extremes in spring/summer
West Altered ecosystems, and more fire Rising snowline intensifies water problems Shift toward warm season recreation greater fire danger
Northwest Stress to cold/cool water ecosystems and fish Earlier winter runoff tightens water supplies Shift to warm season recreation coastal erosion
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The amount of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere,
compared to the long-term average, has been
decreasing. Sea ice thickness has also been
decreasing
1900-2002 Multiple sources
1973-2002 Satellite observations
Source Univ. of Illinois Polar Research Group
Source NOAA/NCDC
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The US National Assessment (1997-2000) prepared
national, regional, and sectoral reports about
past impacts and likely future consequences.
These are downloadable from http//www.usgcrp.gov
/usgcrp/nacc/default.htm
This National Overview report is also available
from Cambridge University Press
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