Galileo’s Science Cafe: “Earth’s Climate, Where Has It Come From and Where Is It Going?”
Earth’s Climate, Where Has It Come From and Where Is It Going?
By: Dr. Natalie Burls, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, College of Science, George Mason University
Weather is the thunderstorm that rolled in over the horizon yesterday; climate is the statistics of weather – its warmer in summer than winter, and at the equator than at the poles. The owner and their dog analogy is often used. The movements of the dog are chaotic and hard to predict but the owner is steering it in a predictable direction – much like the sun and other “forcings” acting on Earth’s climate to steer the behavior of our chaotic weather patterns. It is important to make this distinction between weather and climate because I can confidently predict that it will be much colder in six months time but can’t tell you if it will rain next week Friday. The sun is a pretty powerful owner. The seasonal cycle is a very repetitive and predictable element of Earth’s climate because of the regular trip we make around the Sun. Reconstructions of past climate change over the last 5 million years tell about other important forcings, which like the sun can steer Earth’s climate, such as the waxing and waning of ice sheets and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere. We are currently conducting a huge experiment with one of these forcings, atmospheric CO2 concentrations. In this lecture, we will explore what the last 5 million years can tell us about the influence of CO2 on Earth’s climate.
About the Galileo’s Science Café Series
Hear about the latest findings surrounding hot topics in science and medicine that affect our everyday lives and the decisions that we make. Bring your family and friends for a free, casual, interactive science discussion. Learn from the experts and speak with them personally.
Brought to you by the College of Science at George Mason University.