Global Climate Change, A long term perspective, Global Warming, CO2

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  • 1.Global Climate Change A long term perspective
  • 2.Global Warming CO2 levels in the atmosphere rising Average global temperature is rising Polar ice caps and mountain glaciers are shrinking Sea level is rising Deserts are expanding Weather is getting more severe
  • 3.Is this normal? How can we tell if the present change in climate is normal or something produced by humans? Is the amount of present climate change normal or is it extreme? Is there any way to answer these questions?
  • 4.Changing Perspectives Our perspective: single human life. Expand to a few other generations. We need a longer time frame to evaluate global climate change.
  • 5.Geologic Record Provides us with longer perspective Contains indirect evidence of climate Contains direct evidence of climate Gives us a history of global climate change on a scale of millions of years to billions of years.
  • 6.Indirect Evidence Evidence for Aridity Warm Climate Cold Climate Recorded by specific types of rocks
  • 7.Examples: Desert sandstones
  • 8.Examples: Reef Limestones
  • 9.Examples: Glacial Features
  • 10.Direct Evidence Ice Cores Sediment Cores Temperature Proxies
  • 11.Ice Cores
  • 12.Data from Ice Cores Direct Evidence for last 100,000 years Quantities of dust in each layer Related to wet vs. dry climate Air bubbles trapped in each layer Samples of ancient air Levels of CO2
  • 13.Sediment Cores Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Ocean Drilling Project (ODP) Integrated Ocean Drilling Project (IODP) Coring in lakes and bogs
  • 14.Data from Sediment Cores Quantity of mud vs. shelly material Relates to sea level, climate and weathering on land Temperature proxies From Chemical Signatures From Fossils
  • 15.Temperature Proxies Stable Isotopes Not radioactive Proportions of stable isotopes are dependent on temperature Ratio of 18O to 16O Ratio of 13C to 12C Coiling in microfossils
  • 16.What does theGeologic Record Tell Us? The “normal” climate of the past 1.0 billion years Warmer than present More uniform than present (less fluctuation) Past 20 million years have been highly variable and generally much colder
  • 17.Climate History:20 Ma to Present 20 Ma – climate was somewhat moderate Similar to present 5 Ma – coldest climate of past 65 million years 2 Ma – Great Ice Ages begin At least 4 episodes of glacial advance and melt back 12,000 – 10,000 Modern Climate sets in
  • 18.Recent Climate History 7000-6000 BP - Warm Peak 950-1300’s – Medieval Warm Spell 1300’s – Cool and Wet 1550 – 1850 – “Little Ice Age”
  • 19.Food For Thought How many of the great events of recorded human history have been directly influenced by climate?
  • 20.Recent Climate History 7000-6000 BP - Warm Peak – Great Ancient civilizations (e.g., Mesopotamia, Egypt) 950-1300’s – Medieval Warm Spell – Rise of “modern” European nation-states 1300’s – Cool and Wet – Bubonic Plague 1550 – 1850 – “Little Ice Age” Washington crosses the Delaware Winter at Valley Forge
  • 21.So, are we to blame? Paleoclimatic record reveals major shifts in climate through time Is it coincidence or causation that climate is warming as we come out of last ice age? Is it coincidence or causation that industrial revolution falls within this same time?
  • 22.What factors cause changes in climate? Long term vs. short term changes Volcanic eruptions Earth’s orbital variations