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Climate Change: The Physical Science Basis

Extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth's ecosystems
Considered to start with Industrial Revolution
Anthropogenic net emissions of CO2 increased from 280ppm to 395ppm
AAAS --> IPCC Working Group I Assessment Reports (FAR, SAR, TAR, AR4)
Nine of the ten warmest years are in the 21st century (except 1998, warmed by strongest ENSO)
Rose by 0.74+0.18 degrees C over the 20th century
Over last half, rate was almost double --> 13 degrees C
2005 & 2010 tied for the warmest year since measurement
Skeptics say that it's due to "urban heat island effect"
Air temperatures
Reduced vegetation in urban areas alters the degree of shading & evapotranspiration
Surface materials --> lower albedo
Urban geometry influences wind flow, energy absorption & ability to emit long-wave radiation
back into space
Anthropogenic heat emissions
Urban heat island effect
Changes in Arctic T & sea ice
Changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity & wind patterns
Changes in extreme weather (heat waves, droughts, intensity of tropical cyclones, etc.)
Urban heat island effect very small (less than 0.002 C of warming per decade)
Other direct observations of climate change
Land surface temperatures rising faster than SSTs
Warming in the Arctic is double that for the globe (late 1960s to present)
Snow/sea ice/glaciers reflect as much as 80 to 90 percent of incoming solar energy, whereas
snow-free surface reflects 10-20 percent
Warming trend --> decrease snow/sea ice/glaciers --> absorption of solar radiation increases -->
adds more heat
Positive feedback
Precip. Increased in eastern parts of NA & SA, Northern Europe & N & C Asia
Drying in Med. S. Africa & S.E. Asia
Changes in Precipitation & Increased Drought
Proxy data: data gathered from natural recorders of climate variability
Medieval warm period
Trees record past climates --> thickness of rings
Michael Mann's temperature Hockey Stick (Observations, Northern Hemisphere, proxy data from
1000 - 1860; Global instrumental observations, 1860 to 1990; Projections until 2100) --> y axis is
departures in temp in C
Paleoclimate Perspective
Climate Change: The Mechanisms
Flow of energy from sun to earth and from earth back to space
Albedo: percentage of shortwave radiation scattered upwards by a surface
Snow/ice have high albedo (45-85%)
Black pavement has low albedo (3%)
Global Energy System
Climate Forcing
GEOL 130 Final Notes
Thursday, May 02, 2013 1:58 AM
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Glaciation-deglaciation cycles w/ periodicity of 1000kyr w/ superimposed cycles of
about 41 to 21kyr
Precession: axis of rotation wobbles --> changes the time when earth reaches
perihelion, at ~22,000yrs
Obliquity: axial tilt varies at periods of 41,000 yrs
Orbital forcing/Milankovitch hypothesis
How the sunspot # is related to solar output is unclear
Solar activity
External causes
Mount Pinatubo (2nd largest volcanic eruption in 20th century)
Eruptions inject material into the tropical stratosphere & distributed worldwide within
1-3 yrs
Spread out toward closer pole --> decay time of 2 yrs
Volcanic eruptions
Deep currents move ocean water in slow circuit across floors of worlds' oceans
Responsible for rapid cyclic climate change
Below the pycnocline, slow velocity
In cold regions the highest surface water densities are reached (salty & cold);
this causes sinking of water --> drives circulation
Salinity is involved in a positive feedback: higher salinity --> enhances
circulation, circulation in turn transports higher salinity waters into deep water
formation regions
Shutting it off would cool N.H. & warm S.H. because cross-equatorial heat
transport in oceans is reduced
Thermohaline Circulation
Ocean circulation changes
Internal factors: Natural changes
Water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone
Greenhouse gases
Tropospheric aerosols & clouds
Stratospheric ozone
Land-surface changes
Internal factors: human-induced factors
Climate Forcing
Tsunamis I
Tsunami: covers all forms of impulsive wave generation (earthquake, volcanic eruption, submarine
landslide, etc.)
Sudden rise or fall of the seafloor displaces large volume of water
Generates waves with large wavelengths that travel very fast in the deep ocean
Become compressed & move slower as they travel closer to coastline
Primary cause of tsunamis
Mw: moment of magnitude measures the energy released during an earthquake
Logarithmic --> one increase in unit --> 30 times energy
Mw > 7.5 to create a destructive tsunami
Earthquake-generated tsunamis
Volcanic eruption or slope failure can cause sudden displacement of water & subsequent tsunami
Volcano-generated tsunamis
Generated by sudden failure of submarine slopes
Waves often lose their energy very quickly
Often caused by earthquakes so both can be simultaneous
Landslide-generated tsunamis
Meteorite-generated tsunamis
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Not as common & scientific evidence lacking
Meteorite-generated tsunamis
Run-up height: maximum height a tsunami reaches on shore (vertical distance between max.
height reached by the wave & normal sea level) --> over 1m is dangerous
Inundation distance: maximum horizontal distance water travels in land
Wave Mechanics
Most tsunamis occur along the "Pacific Ring of Fire" --> borders the northern edge of the Pacific Plate
Offshore (bathymetric) & coastal features can change how energy is focused & path of travel
Amplify by funneling wave energy: bays, harbors, restricted lagoons
Dissipate: reefs, mangroves/saltmarshes
Influence of coastlines
Deposits from older paleo-tsunami --> how often, how destructive
Overwash: transport of offshore marine material inland
Contain marine shells, coarse sand, pebbles
Oriented convex-up; angular shell fragments; forams
Tsunami deposits
Larger sample size
Useful for recent events & lateral trends
Larger shells useful
Trench studies
Smaller sample size
Useful for older events
Forams important
Core studies
Marine "microfossil"
Single-celled organism
Produces a test or a shell of CaCO3
By provenance & taphonomic character can tell forams that originated in sea v. along
Lagoon sediments (high abundances of lagoon species, low fragmentation)
Tsunami deposit (high abundnances of fossil & fragmented forams, many offshore
Lagoon sediments (high abundances of lagoon species, low fragmentation
Proxies (grain size, foraminifera, shells, geochemistry, sediment composition, etc.)
Ground-truthed modeling
Orphan Tsunami of 17000AD
At great depth, hot & ductile, at shallow depth, cool & brittle --> gets stuck
Overriding plate thickens & bulges up until the leading edge becomes unstuck & breaks free
seaward & upward. Land falls --> subsidence
Subducting plate & overriding plate --> as subducting plate descends, it does so in stick-slip
Making a tsunami
Subsidence --> buried soil --> soil & silt deposited by tide
Land subsides --> sand-laden tsunami overruns subsided landscape lays down a sand sheet
Sand sheets
Earthquake Deformation Cycle
In Cascadia, earthquake on Jan. 26 1700 9PM
Parent --> tree rings, computer simulations & written accounts
Cascadia --> earthquakes in intervals of every 500 years (range from 200 - 1000 years)
"Orphan tsunami"
Climate Change: Modeling
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Climate Change: Modeling
Can be viewed as three domains: time, space & human perception
Climate system: Interactions b/w atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, chemistry
Ice-albedo feedback --> positive
Water-vapor "greenhouse" feedback --> positive
Cloud feedback --> negative (more moisture convection --> greater cloud cover --> less surface
radiation --> less evaporation --> less convection
Climate feedbacks
Balancing the planetary radiation budget
Parameters: albedo, incoming solar radiation, outgoing infrared radiation, heat transport
EBMs & glacial cycles
Energy Balance Models (EBMs)
1-D refers to altitude
Balance between shortwave & longwave radiative fluxes
Atmospheric composition & influence of external & internal forces
One-dimensional radiative-convective (RC) models
Two-dimensional statistical dynamical (SD) models
Surface processes
Conservation of energy
Conservation of momentum
Conservation of mass
Ideal gas law
Fundamental equation solved by GCMs
General circulation models (GCMs)
Computational power
Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming &
induce changes very likely to be larger than those of 20th century
For next two decades, a warming of about 0.2 deg C per decade is projected
Even if greenhouse gases & aerosols stayed at 2000 levels, warming of about 0.1 deg C per decade
Near terms projections insensitive of choice of scenario; longer term projections depend on
scenario & climate model sensitivities
Projected warming greatest over land & at most high northern altitudes / least over the Southern
Ocean & parts of the North Atlantic Ocean
Precipitation increases very likely in high latitudes
Decrease likely in most subtropical land regions
Projects of future changes in climate
Snow cover is projected to contract
Widespread increases in thaw depth most permafrost regions
Sea ice is projected to shrink in both the Arctic & the Antarctic
Arctic late-summer sea ice may disappear almost entirely by end of 21st century
Very likely that hot extremes, heat waves & heavy precipitation events become more frequent
Likely that future tropical cyclones will become more intense
Less confidence in decrease of total number
Temperatures in excess of 1.9 to 4.6 C warmer than pre-industrial level --> eventually melt
Greenland & raise sea level by 7m
Projections of future changes in climate
Is Sea Level Rising?
1992-2010 --> trend = +3.26mm/year
Thermal expansion (40%--> 20%)
Contributing factors
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Thermal expansion (40%--> 20%)
Glaciers & ice caps (35%--> 40%)
Continental ice sheets (25 --> 40%)
Ice melting
Land rising
Ocean-atmosphere interaction
Changes in density of ocean
Ocean circulation
Terrestrial water storage
SLR = Oceans + Land
Complex causes of sea-level rise
Sea-level cycles of ~100,000 years
Maximum amplitudes of 120-140m
Previous interglacial
Sudden rise of 6.5 feet to 10 feet occurred within 50-100 years about 121,000 yrs ago
Potential sudden jump in sea levels
Record of post-glacial SLR from peak of the glacial until apparent cessation 6000 yrs ago
Post-glacial SLR
RSL = E - RWL (elevation of the dated sample - tide level)
No ocean-level change in the last 4000 years
Sea level rise due to land subsidence
20th century --> SLR from ocean level plus land subsidence (2x to 3x increase) --> 1.8+0.2 mm/yr
Climate Change: Paleo-perspective from the ice cores
Long term (10^4 - 10^6) rhythmic changes in climate with predictable variations --> driven largely by
astronomical influences
Superimposed are oscillations, chaotic, often abrupt
Cyclical variations in the amount of solar radiation received at the surface of Earth induces major
climate changes
Evidence from stable oxygen isotope signal in deep-sea marine sediments & ice cores
Precession of the equinoxes (19-23 ka)
Obliquity of the ecliptic (ca. 41 ka)
Eccentricity of the orbit (ca. 100 ka)
Astronomical rhythm of climate change
Frequency of the climate cycle changed during the Quarternary
Rates of warming at the start of interglacial stages are more rapid than gradual cooling trends
leading to glacial stages
Amplitude of climate oscillation increased
Interglaciations have been short (15-17 ka)
External stimulus of insolation at the 10^5 may be predictable
Shorter frequencies cannot be explained by astronomical cycles alone
Short-term (sub-Milankovitch) climatic variations
Very high accumulation rates
Preservation of multiple proxies
Small samples of ancient atmospheres
Unique because:
Impacts of humans
Glacial-interglacial conditions over last 800,000yrs
Stability of the last 10,000yrs
Tight link b/w concentration of CO2 & surface temperature
Large climate changes can occur in periods of less than a few decades
Two main findings:
Ice cores as archives of past climates
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Large climate changes can occur in periods of less than a few decades
CO2, O, NOx in air bubbles trapped in the ice
Concentrations of major ions
Cosmogenic isotopes
Stable isotopes
Electrical conductivity
Physical properties
42 types of measurements
Transition from last glacial epoch to Holocene was accompanied by increase in atm. CO2 of 40%
Last glacial to the Holocene
No steady state
Uptake by terrestrial biosphere
Release of CO2 from the ocean due to increase of SST
Climate Change: Paleo-perspective: the oceans
Cesare Emiliani
Deep-sea sediment records --> continuous & contain a mixture of lithogenous sediment &
biogenous microfossils
Accumulate @ rates 1-5cm/1000yr
Can thoroughly mix 10cm of sediment
Milankovitch cycles (100-23 kyr period) are readily preserved at deep-sea sedimentation
Millennial-scale & sub-millennial cycles are attenuated
Delta-value: 18O/16O given in o/oo
Oxygen-isotope ratios
Marine organisms from cold water contained higher proportion of heavier 18O isotope than those
in warmer water
Estimate past temperatures from fossilized biologic carbonate remains
Water molecules w/ lighter 16O preferentially enriched in the vapor phase
Remaining water vapor even more depleted in 18O in the clouds
Water vapor that ultimately precipitates at low temperature to form ice caps is extremely
depleted in 18O, relative to ocean water

Carbonate fractionation
During glaciation periods, light 16O atoms of oxygen were preferentially extracted from the sea &
stored in ice sheets, leaving seawater enriched in the heaver 18O isotope
Oxygen-isotope ratios: ice sheets
Climatic changes on timescales of decades to centuries
Attributed to large-scale iceberg melting & sedimentation of ice-rafted detritus (IRD)
Massive discharge of icebergs stop THC b/c of freshwater influx, cooling North Atlantic region. As
circulation starts again, the rapid start leads to abrupt warming
Part of succession of warm & cold episodes known as Dansgaard-Oeschger events
Sub-Milankovitch: Heinrich Events (HE)
Marine Life and the Environment
More land species than marine --> ocean relatively uniform conditions --> less adaption required meant
less speciation
Overwhelmingly benthic rather than pelagic
Cold - fewer appendages, warm- more
Physical support
Adaptations of marine organisms
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Cold - fewer appendages, warm- more
Organism size
Flattened body & tapering back end
Deep ocean is nearly isothermal
Cold --> smaller
More appendages in warm
Warm-- > grow faster & live shorter & reproduce more often
More species in warm
More biomass in cool (upwelling)
Cold v. warm-water species
Stenothermal: withstand only small variation in temperature
Eurythermal: withstand large variation in temperature
Stenohaline: withstand only small variation in salinity
Euryhaline: withstand large variation in salinity
Amount of dissolve increases as temperature decreases
Dissolved gases
Camouflage through color patterns
Disruptive coloring
Avoid predation
Increases 1 atm w/ every 10m deeper
Do not have inner air pockets or have collapsible rib cages (eg. Sperm whale)
Water pressure
Dissolved O2 minimum layer about 700-1000m & nutrient maximum
O2 content increases with depth below
Pelagic (open sea)
Gas containers (shells or swim bladder)
Increase buoyancy
Float (zooplankton have shells/tests eg. Krills or forams)
Active swimming
Avoid sinking
Paired vertical fins as stabilizers
Paired pelvic fins & pectoral fins for steering & balance
Rounded: maneuver at slow speeds
Truncate & forked: maneuvering & thrust
Lunate: rigid & lots of thrust (swordfish)
Heterocercal: asymmetrical & lift for buoyancy (shark)
Tail fin (caudal) for thrust
Fin design
Lungers: wait for prey & pounce (grouper) --> white muscle
Cruisers: actively seek prey (tuna) --> red muscle
Finding prey
Avoid predation
Marine mammals in Pelagic
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Whales, dolphins, porpoises
Use oxygen efficiently
Marine mammals in Pelagic
Large, sensitive eyes
Photophores: light-producing cells
Attract prey
Staking out territory
Seeking a mate
Escaping from predators
Large, sharp teeth
Expandable bodies
Hinged jaws
Adaptations of deep-water nekton
The Deep
Bathyal, abyssal & hadal zones
Little to no sunlight
Same temperature & salinity
O2 levels high
Low supply
High species diversity
Chemosynthesis (also occurs at low temperature seeps)
Archaea use sea floor chemicals to make organic matter
Tube worms/crabs/giant clams & mussels
Hydrothermal vent biocommunities
Most food from surface waters
Attached to substrate & move over seafloor
Animal diversity @ tropical and algae diversity & mid-latitudes
Moderate diversity of species
Spray zone
High tide zone
Middle tide zone
Low tide zone
Move downward --> more species of marine algae & hard shells --> soft bodied &
crabs abundant in all zones
Intertidal zonation
Rocky shores
Less species diversity but greater number of organisms
Similar intertidal zones
Mostly infauna (burrow into sediment)
Continental shelf
Mainly sediment covered
Kelp forest associated w/ rocky seafloor
Lobsters & oysters
Shallow ocean floor
Sediment shores
Most coral polyps live in large colonies
Hard CaCO3 structures
Warm seawater
Limited to:
Coral reefs
Benthic (sea floor)
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Warm seawater
Sunlight (for symbiotic algae)
Strong waves or currents
Clear seawater
Normal salinity
Hard substrate
Made of algae, mollusks, foramnifers & corals
Algae provide food & corals provide nutrients
Internal or external fertilization
Sexual reproduction
Asexual reproduction
Great diversity of species
Tourist locales
Protect shorelines
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