Category: Earth systems

Responding to environmental change

This blog post is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change event, organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).

A recent event in London brought together emerging environmental scientists (PhD students and early career researchers) with leaders from business, policy and academia to explore the challenges posed by environmental change and opportunities to work in collaboration to respond to these.

Communities today find themselves and the environments they live in under increasing pressure. This is driven by growing populations, urban expansion and improving living standards that place increasing stress on natural resources.

Resilience to environmental hazards

This blog post by Malcom Graham, an SSCP DTP student, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).

See the full list of blogs in this series here.

Environmental hazards are becoming more frequent and severe, with potentially serious impacts on people, supply chains and infrastructure globally. Advancing our knowledge and understanding of these hazards, and the processes involved, will allow us to better predict, plan for and manage the risks in order to increase resilience to these changes.

Managing environmental change

This blog post by Rebecca Emerton, a Scenario DTP student at University of Reading, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).

See the full list of blogs in this series here.

In addition to natural variability, human activities are causing rapid, large-scale climate and environmental change. Understanding how these processes work as a whole Earth system can improve our understanding of the impacts of these changes and inform responsible management.

How will Antartica’s ice-sheet contribute to 21st century sea level rise?

by Professor Martin Siegert, Co-director, Grantham Institute

On 27th October I convened a meeting at the Royal Society of London to discuss the results of a recent 20-year research horizon scanning exercise for Antarctic Science (Kennicutt et al. 2014). Part of the discussion focused on the research needed to better quantify Antarctica’s likely contribution to sea level rise in the coming decades and beyond, as published in the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report.

The report states that, ‘Global mean sea level rise will continue during the 21st century, very likely at a faster rate than observed from 1971 to 2010, and will likely be in the ranges of 0.26 to 0.55 m [in the lowest emissions scenario] … and … 0.45 to 0.82 m [in the highest emissions scenario – the closest to “business as usual”]’.

Ocean heat uptake – checking the facts

The Climate and Environment at Imperial blog has moved. View this post on our new blog 

By Dr Flora Whitmarsh, Grantham Institute

The recent slowdown in global temperature rise has led to suggestions that global warming has stopped. In fact, the Earth system is still gaining heat, and the slowdown was likely caused by a series of small volcanic eruptions, a downward trend in the solar cycle, and increased heat uptake of the ocean. Writing in the Telegraph, Christopher Booker claims that a new paper by Professor Carl Wunsch (Wunsch, 2014) shows that ocean warming cannot explain the slowdown because the deeper ocean is in fact cooling rather than warming.

Ocean warming in the media

A recent paper on ocean warming has been reported on in a number of newspaper articles, most recently by Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph.

The author of the paper, Professor Carl Wunsch of MIT, wrote a letter to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph in response to Christopher Booker’s article. As the letter has yet to be published in the Sunday Telegraph, with the permission of Professor Wunsch we have decided to post it here.

Dear Editor,

In the Sunday Telegraph of 27 July 2014, Christopher Booker pretends to understand a highly technical paper on ocean warming to such a degree that he can explain it to his lay-audience.

Grantham Institute welcomes results of Energy and Climate Change Committee review of IPCC WG1 report

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee report on the Working Group 1 contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, which is published today, has found the IPCC process to be robust. The committee launched an inquiry into the IPCC WG1 report in October 2013, following criticism by some commentators of the IPCC review process and its conclusions.

The Grantham Institute submitted written evidence to the committee (you can read our evidence here) and our Chair Professor Sir Brian Hoskins was called before the committee to give oral evidence.

The committee found that “the IPCC has responded extremely well to constructive criticism in the last few years and has tightened its review processes to make its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) the most exhaustive and heavily scrutinised Assessment Report to-date.

Fact checking a recent Telegraph article by Christopher Booker

by Dr Flora WhitmarshGrantham Institute

In an article for the Telegraph, Christopher Booker gave his views on Professor Sir Brian Hoskins’ appearance on the Today programme earlier this year. In the article, Booker made several claims about climate science relating to rainfall, atmospheric humidity, polar sea ice extent, global temperatures and sea level rise. In this blog I will assess his claims against the findings of the latest report of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a hugely comprehensive assessment of the scientific literature.

  Rainfall and floods

Booker’s comment: “Not even the latest technical report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could find any evidence that rainfall and floods were increasing.”

 Scientific Evidence:

The IPCC report found a significant climate influence on global scale changes in precipitation patterns (with medium confidence), including increases in precipitation in northern hemisphere mid to high latitudes.

Updates to the IPCC WG1 Summary for Policy Makers

By Dr Flora MacTavish

The IPCC has released corrected figures for past carbon dioxide emissions and future emissions trajectories quoted in the Summary for Policy Makers of the Working Group 1 report, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis”.  The original numbers were published in the report released on 27th September, which was subject to copy edit and final layout changes.

In total, six values from the summary have been changed. As noted by Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute, these corrections are minor adjustments to historical greenhouse gas emissions and to the cumulative emissions consistent with achieving a 2 degree warming target with different levels of probability.