Is the climate changing and if so, what does it mean for our region
Saturday March 31, along with a group of broadcast meteorologists in the mid-Atlantic area from Roanoke, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania I attended a unique workshop on climate science. This workshop was a project of Climate Central in cooperation with “The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media”. The goal is a “full-day climate science “immersion” workshops designed to help meteorologists feel more comfortable with the increasing number of questions many are getting, on- and off-air, concerning possible connections between weather anomalies and a warming climate” The workshop included many questions and candid discussion between broadcasters and 5 eminent research scientists in climate, solar, atmospheric and environmental science. So with that quick intro here is a review of what these top scientists presented about the state of the science of climate studies, observations, projections, uncertainities and local impacts in our area, as well as a few points I made. Comments from some of my fellow participants very welcome. I've put together a gallery of many of the data, images and general science from the participants at the workshop I'll post in a photo galley soon. First, this is how we look now, a composite of the new polar orbiting satellite the "Suomi" named after a pioneer of of satellite meteorology the late Vern Suomi.
So the first question many people often ask we meteorologists, just after, "Will it rain tomorrow" is this
This is a slide I showed with measurements and proxy reconstructions of the earth's temperature going back millions of years. The answer is YES, of course the climate is changing, it always has changed and will in the future.
Why does climate change? Dr. Judith Lean, Senior Scientist for Sun-Earth System Research at the Naval Research Laboratory, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, showed this diagram of the earth's energy budget. Imagine if you were trying to figure this out for your house.
Another graph I showed. Has the earth's surface temperature been increasing? Again yes, especially during the last 100 years, but sure not in a straight line
Dr. Anthony Broccoli of Rutgers University who's research is in climate measurement, modeling and forcing showed that long term trends do not mean there may not be steady or even cooling trends for decades. What is the trend over decades or hundreds of years? Climate does change but it is slow . . .so far.
Judith Lean pointed out the spirted scientific debate about the reasons for the recent lag in the general warming trend over the last 50-100 years. An example of science and discussion among scientists in action.
Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a leading hurricane and cloud systems researcher and also a member of the National Academy of Science, showed the relation between recent increases in the Atlantic water temperature and the power of tropical storms.
Dr. Broccoli's points on why global warming and climate change is so controversial
Judith Lean's outline of the many causes of climate change. Indeed science can be messy,
Dr. Donald Boesch is President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and professor of marine sciences showed the changes, due to warming waters on the Chesapeake Bay
And the expected changes in the decades ahead with continued regional changes
- Dr. Keith Dixon climate researcher at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton,NJ showed that almost all of the heat being added to the earth, in a warming world, is going into the oceans. Not surprising - remember that the oceans hold vast amounts of heat and cover 70% of the earth's surface Judith Lean's diagram of the natural and human influence causes of climate change. And finally few general "take aways" from this excellent workshop.
Judith Lean's research work for what might be ahead in the coming decades.