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Lecture 2

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Biological Sciences
Rudy Boonstra

LECTURE 2 September 18, 2007 The lecture from last week is not on the intranet but the PowerPoint presentation is. It was a good idea to get the PP lecture onto the intranet so I did that but today I changed the order. I will try to have it on Monday evenings or Tuesday mornings. Tutorial Thursdays -> Brenda Dalahante There will be a film and I would like for you to go if possible. There is a News Week article on Is Climate Change a Hoax that I want you to read so we can discuss it. Tutorial information will be on the exam so I encourage you to go. LECTURE #2 BACKGROUND OF GLOBAL CHANGE You will get an in-depth grounding in terms of the state of the planet at the present time. There are many details in here and I expect you to know much of it. Some numbers will be important and some are just to add to your knowledge. You should know: Concentration of the atmosphere -> CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, etc. I try to ask the big questions. (QuotesHarold Wilson know crap from non-crap) AS I indicated I am not an environment biologist, I am an ecologist. But environmental biology concerns us all. Unlike issues dealing with the environment the issue with respect to climate change and global change involves the entire earths system. The science is complex and there is uncertainty that still remains. We know a lot of how it works but not everything. The challenge of what happens now and in the future is the collaboration of many scientists from many disciplines. I indicated my modest contribution to the destruction of the forests. Whats happening, and what can we expect? BGYC58H3F.September ,18, 2007 LECTURE 2 1 by Walter Lippmann in notes) This is a truism as far a climate change and what we do affect everywhere on earth. The quote was done in 1913 so he wasnt referring to global change; he referred to the start of WW1. He was an American. What is climate? There is some confusion between weather and climate. Weather is the day to day changes in climate. They are the long term conditions including seasonal changes. These include the extremes and the variation for a specific locationregion on earth. Environment Canada will ask what the climate on the Prairies is. They will then average over the last 30 years for example. Roughly it is 30 years that they average so the way you can distinguish between the two is climate is what we expect to get and weather is what we actually get. Weather is naturally variable and that is a problem. You can probably look today at the forecast and there is a good chance they could be wrong. It can change over weeks, months, and years. Weather is a resultconsequence of an inter-play of a number of factors; rapid shifts in air circulation, slower variations in ocean conditions, and seasonal changes in sunshine. If we look at climate it can also vary from average conditions. It is variable. One year is colder or warmer than the next so if you have it change over time what has to be distinguished is the variation caused by short-term variability from long-term trends. You have to have a baseline. The baseline here with respect to climate is important to have. It has to be consistent. One extreme year in temperatureprecipitation isnt enough but if it goeson for 10 or 20 years or more then you can be confident that maybe you have a problem. Now the size of the change. If the change is very small over time it is difficult to distinguish that from natural variation. If the change is large you have a better handle of what is going on. From a global perspective we are not interested so much what happens in Toronto but on the entire face of the planet. What is climate change? BGYC58H3F.September ,18, 2007 LECTURE 2 2
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