Observing & Predicting

As the assessment now known as the BAMS State of the Climate report pushes into its third decade, international participation is at an all-time high. From atmospheric chemists to tropical meteorologists, more than 420 authors from institutions in 57 countries contributed to this year’s report.

February 2012

  • Although they are related, meteorology and climatology have important differences, particularly in how scientists develop and use weather and climate models. What makes climatologists think they can project climate scenarios decades into the future when meteorologists cannot accurately predict weather more than two weeks in advance? This presentation by Wayne Higgins of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center clarifies the relationships and differences between weather and climate, as well as the differences between natural climate variability and human-induced climate change.

  • James Roger Fleming presents a historical perspective on how our understanding of Earth's climate system developed through innovations and discoveries by pioneering scientists in the 1800s and 1900s who asked and answered fundamental questions about the causes and effects of global climate change.

     

  • Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch, presents the preponderance of scientific evidence that climate change is occurring and that humans are the primary cause.

  • Climate scientist Anthony Janetos makes it clear that climate change isn't some future abstraction: real and substantial impacts on people's lives, the economy, the environment, and our valuable natural resources are already happening here in the United States.

     

  • Humans currently release about 70 million tons of carbon dioxide every day into the atmosphere and about 20 million tons is being absorbed regularly by the oceans, causing the pH to drop.  Chris Sabine describes current and projected future impacts of this acidification on marine ecology.

  • Felix Kogan talks about using satellites to observe and forecast the climate conditions that lead to mosquito–and malaria–outbreaks.
     

  • Jake Crouch of the National Climatic Data Center recaps the temperature patterns of 2011, emphasizing the much greater than average warmth across Arctic latitudes and the influence of La Niña in the tropical Pacific.