Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Illinois professor to address global warming at book launching

10.05.2006


Michael Schlesinger, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will participate in news conferences in New York City on May 9, and Washington, D.C., on May 10, publicizing the U.S. debut of the book "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change."

Published by Cambridge University Press, the book builds upon scientific findings presented at the "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change" conference held in Exeter, England, in February last year. The conference was sponsored by the United Kingdom Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The conference brought together more than 200 scientists and political leaders from 30 nations. Major themes included key vulnerabilities of the climate system and critical thresholds, socio-economic effects, and technologies to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.



Based on his talk at the conference, Schlesinger contributed a book chapter titled "Assessing the Risk of a Collapse of the Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation."

Higher temperatures caused by global warming could add fresh water to the northern North Atlantic Ocean by increasing the precipitation and by melting nearby sea ice, mountain glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet, Schlesinger said. This influx of fresh water could reduce the surface salinity and density, leading to a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation.

"We have evidence dating back to 1965 that shows a drop in salinity around the North Atlantic," Schlesinger said. "So far, the salinity change is small, but we could be standing at the brink of an abrupt and irreversible climate change."

Among the talking points Schlesinger will cover at the news conferences:

  • The observed warming during 1856-1990 was predominantly human-induced. "Using a simple climate/ocean model, we calculated the contributions to the observed changes in global-mean, near-surface temperature caused by human and volcano forcing, and putative variations in the irradiance of the sun for the years 1856-1990," Schlesinger said. "We found the human effect has steadily increased and is now the dominant external factor. Variations in solar output played only a minor role in the observed temperature change, and we found no significant contribution from volcanoes."

  • The observed melting of alpine glaciers, the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, the freshening of the North Atlantic Ocean, and the slowdown of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation are the "smoking gun" of global warming. "We are seeing dangerous, human-induced climate change," Schlesinger said. "The melting of the Greenland ice sheet would raise sea level by 18 feet. Melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would raise sea level an additional 22 feet. Most coastal cities would be inundated."

  • These observed changes in climate and ongoing research have shown that human-induced warming is proceeding more quickly than anticipated. "Not only are the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets melting much faster than models predicted, measurements show a significant freshening (influx of fresh water) of the North Atlantic Ocean and a 30 percent reduction of North Atlantic circulation within the past 50 years," Schlesinger said. "What we are seeing is very worrisome. It is now clear that we have no time to spare -- we must act immediately."

  • If the present course of increasing emissions continues, there is a high likelihood that the Atlantic thermohaline circulation will shut down during the next 200 years. The thermohaline circulation is driven by differences in seawater density, caused by temperature and salinity. Like a great conveyor belt, the circulation pattern moves warm surface water from the southern hemisphere toward the North Pole. Between Greenland and Norway, the water cools, sinks into the deep ocean, and begins flowing back to the south.

"This movement carries a tremendous amount of heat northward, and plays a vital role in maintaining the current climate," Schlesinger said. "If the thermohaline circulation shut down, the southern hemisphere would become warmer and the northern hemisphere would become colder. The heavily populated regions of eastern North America and western Europe would experience a significant shift in climate."

Two major factors affect the range of possible future temperature increases: Scientists don’t know precisely how sensitive the climate system will be to future emissions; and they don’t know exactly how much humankind will emit. People can only control one of the factors. By reducing emissions, the amount of future warming and associated impacts can be reduced.

"Recent work by five independent research teams has shown that climate sensitivity could be larger than the 4.5 degrees Celsius upper bound published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," Schlesinger said. "In fact, climate sensitivities as high as 9 degrees Celsius are not implausible. Paralysis in near-term action to significantly reduce emissions could make mitigation nearly impossible to attain."

Two other authors and one of the book’s editors will also participate in the news conferences. The May 9 news conference will begin at noon EDT at JP Morgan-Chase corporate headquarters in Manhattan. The May 10 news conference will begin at 4 p.m. in Room 485 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines
24.04.2017 | Indiana University

nachricht NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>