Contributors

 

The following individuals served as the primary writing team for Climate Change: Evidence & Causes:

Professor Eric Wolff FRS, University of Cambridge (UK Chair)
Eric Wolff is a Royal Society Research Professor at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge. Eric is one of the foremost investigators of Quaternary and recent climate records using ice cores. His major contributions include demonstration that industrial heavy metal pollution was global in extent, his re-interpretation of sea salt in ice cores as a proxy for sea ice, and pioneering work on the physical properties of impurities in ice cores. He has led the incredibly successful EPICA project which has produced detailed records of climate and atmospheric composition spanning the last 800,000 years, providing an unprecedented insight into the Quaternary climate system.

Professor Inez Fung, University of California, Berkeley (US Chair)
Inez Fung is a Professor of atmospheric science at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. She was a contributing author to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third and Fourth Assessment reports. Her research looks at the interactions between climate change and biogeochemical cycles, and focuses on the processes that maintain and alter the composition of the atmosphere, and hence the climate. A question driving her research is how atmospheric CO2 and climate will co-evolve, and what we can do about it.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins CBE FRS, Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London
Sir Brian Hoskins is the first Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, and is also at Reading University, where he has been Professor of Meteorology for 30 years. His research area is weather and climate processes, and he is a member of the scientific academies of the UK, USA, China and Europe, He has played significant roles in international weather and climate research and in the 2007 science report of the IPCC, and is currently a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change. He was knighted in 2007 for his services to the environment.

Professor John Mitchell OBE FRS, Met Office
John Mitchell gained a BSc and PhD, Theoretical Physics in from The Queen's University, Belfast. In 1978, he took charge of the Climate Change group in what is now the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. His main speciality is the climatic effects of increases in greenhouse gases and related pollutants. He was a lead author in the first three IPCC Working Group I reports. He is a past Chief Scientist and Director of Climate Science at the Met Office, where he is now currently the Principal Research Fellow. He is a visiting Professor at the University of Reading and an Honorary Professor at the University of East Anglia.

Professor Keith Shine FRS, University of Reading
Keith Shine is Professor of Physical Meteorology at the University of Reading. He graduated in Physics from Imperial College in 1978 and gained his PhD in Meteorology from the University of Edinburgh in 1981. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2009. His primary research area is "radiative processes and climate" and his current interests include the role of water vapour in the climate system, the impact of aviation on climate change (and vice versa) and the quantification of the radiative forcing of climate change due to changes in concentrations of greenhouse gases. He has been involved in several Working Group 1 reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including being a Lead Author on its First Assessment Report in 1990 and as a Review Editor for its recently completed Fifth Assessment Report.

Professor John Shepherd FRS, University of Southampton
John Shepherd is Professorial Research Fellow in Earth System Science at the School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton. From 2001 to 2010 John Shepherd was also a Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999.
His current research interests include the natural variability of the climate system on long time-scales, and the development and use of intermediate complexity models (especially GENIE) of the Earth climate system, for the interpretation of the palaeo-climate record, and for long-term projections of climate change.

Professor Tim Palmer FRS, University of Oxford
Tim Palmer is Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics at Oxford University and Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Modelling and Predicting Climate. Tim’s research spans a wide variety of areas, from the theoretical to the practical, in issues related to the predictability and dynamics of weather and climate. On the theoretical side, Tim is especially interested in aspects of the climate system which exhibit nonlinear behaviour, for example where climatic processes on different space and time scales interact. On the practical side, Tim has developed probabilistic weather and climate ensemble forecast systems, and worked on the application of weather and climate forecasts e.g. for malaria prediction, flood forecasting, and crop yield estimation. Most recently Tim’s research has focused on the use of energy-efficient hybrid stochastic/deterministic computer hardware to simulate climate at extremely high resolution.

Professor Susan Solomon ForMemRS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
Susan Solomon is well known for having pioneered the theory explaining why the ozone hole occurs in Antarctica. She is also the author of several influential scientific papers in climate science, including one on the irreversibilities of the climate change problem. She received the 1999 US National Medal of Science, that nation’s highest scientific honour. She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Acadameia Europaea. She served as co-chair of the climate science group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 2002-2007, and in 2008, Time magazine named Solomon as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. A glacier in Antarctica has been named after her, Solomon Glacier.

Professor Donald Wuebbles, University of Illinois, US
Donald Wuebbles is the Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois. He is a Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences as well as an affiliate Professor in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was the first Director of the School of Earth, Society, and Environment at Illinois, was the first Director of the Environmental Council at the University, and was Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences for many years. He is an expert in numerical modelling of atmospheric physics and chemistry and has authored over 400 scientific articles, relating mostly to atmospheric chemistry and climate issues. He has been a lead author on a number of national and international assessments related to concerns about climate change.

Dr Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research, US
Kevin Trenberth is a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. From New Zealand, he obtained his Sc. D. in meteorology in 1972 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a lead author of the 1995, 2001 and 2007 Scientific Assessment of Climate Change reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Kevin’s research addresses many aspects of climate variability and climate change research. Recently, his primary research has focused on the global energy and water cycles and how they are changing. His work mainly involves empirical studies and quantitative diagnostic calculations.

Professor John Walsh, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, US
John Walsh is President's Professor of Global Change & Chief Scientist at the International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks. He graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Dartmouth College before gaining his PhD in Meteorology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. John’s professional interests cover climate change and meteorology of Polar Regions, arctic sea ice and extreme weather and impacts. His research on sea ice has involved working to establish a long-term sea ice database for use in a formal, searchable Sea Ice Atlas interface. He has served as a contributor on the subject of ongoing Arctic changes to a number of official reports.

Dr Benjamin Santer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, US
Benjamin Santer is an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Ben’s early research contributed to the historic “discernible human influence” conclusion of the 1995 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. His recent work has attempted to identify human factors in a number of different climate variables. Ben holds a Ph.D. in Climatology from the University of East Anglia, England. He spent five years at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, and worked on the development and application of climate fingerprinting methods. Ben served as convening lead author of the climate-change detection and attribution chapter of the 1995 IPCC report. He was the convening lead author of a key chapter of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s report on “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere”.

Questions and answers

Read short summary answers

1. Is the climate warming?
2. How do scientists know that recent climate change is largely caused by human activities?
3. CO2 is already in the atmosphere naturally, so why are emissions from human activity significant?
4. What role has the Sun played in climate change in recent decades?
5. What do changes in the vertical structure of atmospheric temperature – from the surface up to the stratosphere - tell us about the causes of recent climate change?
6. Climate is always changing. Why is climate change of concern now?
7. Is the current level of atmospheric CO2 concentration unprecedented in Earth’s history?
8. Is there a point at which adding more CO2 will not cause further warming?
9. Does the rate of warming vary from one decade to another?
10. Does the recent slowdown of warming mean that climate change is no longer happening?
11. If the world is warming, why are some winters and summers still very cold?
12. Why is Arctic sea ice reducing while Antarctic sea ice is not?
13. How does climate change affect the strength and frequency of floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes?
14. How fast is sea level rising?
15. What is ocean acidification and why does it matter?
16. How confident are scientists that Earth will warm further over the coming century?
17. Are climate changes of a few degrees a cause for concern?
18. What are scientists doing to address key uncertainties in our understanding of the climate system?
19. Are disaster scenarios about tipping points like ‘turning off the Gulf Stream’ and release of methane from the Arctic a cause for concern?
20. If emissions of greenhouse gases were stopped, would the climate return to the conditions of 200 years ago?

Your questions

In addition to the 20 key questions answered in 'Climate Change: Evidence & Causes', we asked for your questions about the science of climate change on Google Moderator.

View all questions and our responses.

Download the answers (PDF).