sue mcnab

Climate change course blog

Climate Change course – week 3

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Is a warming world likely to have more rain, or does it depend on where on Earth you are?

Exploring the map shows that while in the UK 2012 was the wettest on record, other parts of the world (US, Brazil, W.Australia, S.China) had severe droughts. Presumably the increase in hurricane activity in the Atlantic has a big effect on UK rainfall, & in turn is influenced by temperatures in N & S America. From what we have already learnt, a warming world will have more rain (until the oceans evaporate & we dry up!) but whether this map provides further evidence of climate change or adds complexity to the issue I don’t know – I am confused – as ever…

 What places on Earth have experienced the largest warming from 1980-2004? Are the areas that are experiencing the most warming also showing the largest variability in temperature and or precipitation?

Northern hemisphere predicted to have largest warming by 2050-74 compared to 1980-04 (if I have understood the question correctly) though if you look at 2070-95 that is spreading south to most land masses. Variability in temp (again if I have understood question right) appears similar (0.8-1.0) in most countries. But with precipitation, variability is much less in the northern regions compared to the south. Equator predicted to get increased precipitation over the period in question with less pronounced changes in north & south. More explanation on variability (ie standard deviations) needed – is it variability between each year in the period (eg 2050-74) being modelled, or between the various models being used?

What would you consider the largest threats from extreme weather events to where you live?

Other examples: increased atmospheric water vapour, decreases in the extent of mountain glaciers, snow cover, permafrost and Arctic sea ice. Largest threats here in UK are increased flooding from sea level rises, storms caused by changes to the jet stream & Atlantic conditions affected by melting Arctic sea-ice & hotter temps in US. Also increased pollution from fossil fuel emissions unless we get our act together! All the threats mentioned to public health, coastal infrastructure, agricultural productivity as well as damage to private & commercial property (eg Somerset levels right now).

The World Bank publishes a variety of environmental data, including carbon emissions (measured in kt). Create a graph to show a variety of countries at different levels of economic development by following this link to the World Bank web site. Include the USA and China in your graph. Share your graph in the discussion. You may also want to try plot carbon dioxide emissions measured in metric tons per capita. What conclusions can you draw?
In overall emissions, US long time big offender but China powering away from them. Other countries shown are relatively lower levels. But per capita, US & Australia highest although latter levelling off/falling slightly. But, other countries shown (including UK – shame!) show increasing per capita rates with exception of India. Worrying in countries where population is increasing as well – especially China where change in One child policy likely to cause pop. increase on top of rising per capita emissions. Conclusion – we need to control pop growth & per capita emissions at the same time.

Reflections on Week 3:

This week highlighted for me the problems of interpreting the mass of data that exists & drawing meaningful conclusions. I found session 3.4 “Your warming world” quite difficult & the questions maybe badly worded (sorry!). I could do with more explanations on the topic & perhaps the correct answers? I didn’t do any further research because I felt overwhelmed with statistics & didn’t think I could take any more…


Author: suemcnab

I've been in IT (developing & supporting my own software) for a long time & now want to get involved in new activities! I am very interested in & concerned about the issue of climate change & want to learn more about it.

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