Month: January 2015

With climate models, simpler isn’t necessarily better

Grantham Institute Co-Director Professor Joanna Haigh discusses a recent paper which argues that  existing climate models ‘run hot’ and overstate the extent of manmade climate change.

It is perplexing that some climate change sceptics, who expend much energy in decrying global circulation (computer) models of the climate, on the basis that they cannot properly represent the entire complexities of the climate system and/or that they contain too many approximations, are now resorting to an extremely simplified model to support their arguments.

The model used in the Sci. Bull. article is a very useful tool for conceptualising the factors which contribute to the relationship between increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global average temperature – indeed, we use such models as teaching aids for students studying atmospheric physics – but it is in no way fit for purpose as an accurate predictor of climate change.  

Internship Experiences: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

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

by Peter Blair, Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP student

The Thames Basin is set to face many challenges in the future: climate change, a growing population and economic requirements all present developmental challenges, as well as major sources of uncertainty. Having previously worked on a voluntary project producing a vision for planning in the Great Lakes Basin over the next hundred years, Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) were interested in applying the same methodology to the Thames Basin to determine how we may best plan for the future in this area.

2014 – the warmest year on record

A summary of global temperature for 2014 from NASA and NOAA has just been published, showing that the average global temperature for 2014 was 0.69°C above the average for the 20th century. The small margin of uncertainty in calculating average global temperature means that the exact ranking of 2014 cannot be distinguished from the previous record years of 2005 and 2010, but it is nominally the warmest year on record. The ten warmest years have all occurred since 1998.

Professor Jo Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute, commented on the report saying that: “This and other indicators are all pointing in the same direction of continued global warming, reflecting the overall upward trend in average global temperatures”

A large amount of warming was seen in the oceans with globally-averaged sea surface temperature 0.57°C above the 20th century average.

Who’s responsible for tackling climate change? – COP 20 outcomes

By Dr Flora WhitmarshGrantham Institute

An agreement produced by the 20th Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru, noted ‘with grave concern’ that countries’ current pledges on emissions reductions are insufficient to keep global temperature rise within either 2°C or 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels. This is indeed a serious concern because temperature changes of just a few degrees are enough to change the climate significantly. Rising sea levels, melting mountain glaciers and polar ice caps and increases in extreme precipitation have already been observed. These trends will continue with ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, and it is expected that we will continue to see an increase in extreme high sea levels, an increase in the intensity of the heaviest rain, and changes in the global distribution of rainfall.