Temperature changes in March 1 January 2010
This is an in-depth look at how the UK climate projections (2009) can be used to understand how climate change will effect temperatures, for me, in the month of March. I introduce you to some real temperature data from the University of Reading Atmospheric Observatory, to help visualise what day-to-day temperatures might be like. And it seems likely that, even by the 2050s, and even under lower emission scenarios, we will see March temperatures that are more like the averages that we are used to seeing for April.
What are the consequences of these changes?
To help us understand how climate change will vary across the world, the Met Office have created a map showing the relative change in temperature across the globe. It is notable that other parts of the world are expected to see much bigger changes than Reading. This map also identifies some of the key consequences that individual regions may be expected to have to deal with. These are listed further with links to the IPCC impacts report.
Temperature changes in August
Even by 2050 we could experience heat waves, with hottest day temperatures that reach 40ºC in the shade. By the 2080s there is a big difference in the temperatures that we are likely to see by following the high, rather than the low scenario. It looks like it could get uncomfortably hot compared to what we’ve been used to.
Knock on effects for Reading
It is fair to point out that Reading isn’t the centre of the Universe(!) and that we don’t live in isolation. Climate change effects in other parts of the world will be different, and may be more or less extreme. Hopefully, it is clear to see that knock on effects of following anything like the high emissions scenario will be completely unacceptable. We must fight hard to reduce our emissions so that we are not left with trying to adapt to some dangerous consequences of climate change.
What climate change am I interested in?
To understand how climate change is going to effect me, I need to be clear to define: where (Reading, UK) and when (March & August, 2050 & 2080); and which future emission scenarios (the highest & lowest) I am interested in. Fortunately I will then be able to use the new UK climate projections to give me some detailed data on how big these changes are likely to be…and I need to be clear about what I mean by the word “likely” (the middle, 67% probability band).
Seasonal climate changes in 2050s Reading
There is a significant amount of difference expected between the individual seasons, which you cannot understand from the crude estimates of change to average annual temperature. In Reading, we will see summer temperatures increasing more relative to the rest of the year, although it will be milder in all seasons. It looks like winter will be wetter and summer will be drier: there is more uncertainty about how rainfall will change for spring and autumn.
Consequences for Reading
The changes to temperature, rainfall and other weather variables will cause changes to the environment around Reading. We might see increases in flooding; more extreme heat waves; loss of some species (e.g. birds and trees) and the rise of others…potentially including pests.
An inconvenient truth
I would strongly advise you to watch the documentary film “An inconvenient truth” to get a good understanding of the issue. Whether you know a lot about climate change or you are not sure what it is all about, this film is outstanding. And I can see why Al Gore has been given a Nobel Peace Prize for it. The web address is www.climatecrisis.net: buy it or borrow it from a library – and pass it around your friends.
The Copenhagen Diagnosis is a report, compiled by the University of New South Wales, to update policy makers in time for the December 2009 – Copenhagen climate summit (COP15). This report shows how quickly the science is moving in our understanding of climate change. Unfortunately it finds evidence that things are even worse than predicted in AR4. Our emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise (In 2008 they were 40% higher than 1990 levels) and measurements of ice melt and sea level rise are faster than expected (80% above past IPCC projections).
My basic explanation of Climate Change
In this page I have tried to summarise how we are changing the climate, presenting you with some of the key phrases, like “greenhouse gas” and “global warming”. There are links at the bottom to useful, on-line sources of further information.