Dispelling climate change myths – how ocean physics can help explain surprises in the modern-day climate record
Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre
The climate system has the capacity to surprise us at times, with variations or trends that go against our expectations. For example, despite a rapid increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations over the past half-century and rapid warming during the 1980s and 1990s, the Earth’s global average surface air temperature remained more or less steady during 2001-2014.
This so called global warming hiatus sparked intense public (and even scientific) debate around the veracity of recent climate change projections. Around Antarctica, over the past four decades, the Southern Ocean surface waters have largely cooled and Antarctic sea ice has expanded, in stark contrast to the Arctic and at odds with the majority of climate model projections. These kinds of climate surprises provide both fodder for the climate change denier industry, and a challenge to climate physicists to explain their origin.
This talk will describe the oceanic processes that can explain these two much hyped phenomena:
(1) the 21st Century global warming slowdown, and
(2) the cooling of surface waters around Antarctica.
Matthew England is a Scientia Professor of Climate Dynamics at the University of New South Wales who has previously held ARC Laureate and Federation Fellowships. He was a founding Director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) during 2006-2013. In 2014 England was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and in 2016 a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
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