Climate Change: Can we Change It?
Location: Burgerbukta, Hornsund, Spitsbergen
Highlight of the Day: Observing another calving glacier + humpback whales
What I Learned:
Amidst this expedition, we had the privilege of learning from Andrew Clark from the University of Cambridge. He is very knowledgable about climate change in the polar regions, and I feel humbled to learn from him while aboard the National Geographic Explorer.
History of Climate Change
There are orbital variations which cause an Ice Age- Ice Ages need continents to be in a certain position. However, orbital variations are decreasing the solar energy so we should be heading into another Ice Age. Recent warming is unprecedented.
Receiving less energy from the sun should increase the temperature. There is a natural Greenhouse Effects, but we are experiencing an enhanced Greenhouse Effect, or Global Warming. The Greenhouse Effects actually keeps us warm, and without these gases, the temperature would be -18 degrees Celsius.
I have discussed how the story is in within the ice, and it is through the air trapped in glacial ice that we can measure past CO2 levels. The CO2 starts to increase rapidly at the time of the Industrial Revolution, and CO2 is the main contributor to the enhanced Greenhouse Effect.
Recent warming exceeds the Medieval Warming Period. Think about that for a minute.
Key Changes in the Arctic:
Of course, I am probably not telling you anything you don't already know. My students often ask me if climate change is real- what if we are naturally entering a warming period? However, Andy talked about how we should be entering a cooling period, so the fact that the global temperature is rising is not natural. As Andy said, there is no debate that the climate is warming beyond natural variability. But if you already knew this, what are you doing? What are we going to say when our children and grandchildren ask us what we did about a problem we knew about.
Here is a short clip with Adam Cropp, National Geographic Naturalist, talking about climate change in the Arctic: