Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Planning for our Climate Change Question Time

We are just in the final planning stages for this year’s Society event at the British Association’s Festival of Science – a Climate Change Question Time. The Festival moves around the country and this year, in part I suspect to mark its status of European City of Culture, we are in Liverpool.

In preparation for the event we did some filming on the streets of Liverpool in late July, asking members of the public about climate change. I have to say that we had a very warm and friendly welcome and we collected quite a number of excellent and interesting interviews which we hope to be able to put up on the Society’s website before the end of September. We will be using a small selection of these to open our Question Time event. I promise to put a link to these in my blog when we have them ready as I know that you will enjoy watching them and hearing what people have to say – I am sure you will find that many of their thoughts and questions are similar to the ones you have.

The event will be in the style of Question Time and we are delighted to have a panel of very distinguished and internationally respected meteorological scientists who have been very actively involved in, amongst other things, the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The panel includes:

• Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Gratham Institute for Climate Change and a newly appointed member of the Government’s Climate Change Committee;
• Dr Peter Stott, the Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the world renowned Met Office’s Hadley Centre, and a lead contributor to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report;
• Professor Jo Haigh, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College, whose area of expertise includes the Sun’s impact on our climate;
• Professor Piers Forster, the Roberts Research Fellow and Professor of Climate Physics at the University of Leeds, working in the field of climate forcing and feedbacks.

The aim of the event is to allow members of the public to ask the questions directly of the scientists that they want answered about climate change. The event will be followed by a reception where people will be able to meet with the members of the panel on a one-to-one basis and also see meteorological experiments demonstrated by the Society’s school Met Ambassadors.

It’s a meeting open to the public and if you would like to come we would be delighted to see you there – we are in the Quaker House (22 School Lane) in Liverpool city centre from 6-8pm on Tuesday 9 September. There is a small charge on the door, but if you register with us in advance (with Sue Brown at sue.brown@rmets.org or on 0118 956 8500) we will be able to provide you with a ticket for free entry. You can find out more details of our and other Festival activities at ‘http://www.the-ba.net/the-ba/FestivalofScience/’.


Anonymous said...

Paul, as I am a new member of Rmets, could you please answer a questionfor me?
As the greater poppulation and industry is in the Northern Hemisphere, how come the hole in the Ozone layer only occurred over the Antartic. Surely the gasses would have attact the Norther Ozone layer decades before the southern layer? As cfc's are a product of the last 5 decades, and scietists are claiming success by banning the production of cfc's within the last 10 years, I can not beleive that cfc's were responsible in the first place as it has only took 4 years for the hole to heal.
Peter Devine No. 00024803.

Paul H said...

Dear Peter - good to hear from a new member.

Ozone depleting gasses are well mixed in the atmosphere and so there is no real significant concentration variation difference between the Arctic and Antarctic or elsewhere across the globe for that matter. The reason we see the biggest effect at the Antarctic is essentially a result of the Antarctic being a mountainous continent surrounded by open ocean with strong dynamics causing a southern polar vortex. This means that the Antarctic ozone layer is roughly 10 degrees colder than the Arctic one. This means that stratospheric clouds, essential for ozone depletion, are widespread and long lasting across Antarctica, but rare and short lived in the Arctic.

The ozone hole has not yet healed and we don’t expect it to do so for at least another 60 years - which shows how much inertia there is in the system in response to these types of changes. CFCs are very long lasting and it will take this long before they drop to levels below those that existed when the ozone hole first became detectable. The 2008 hole was one of the longest lasting yet, and the 2007 one of the deepest. The Montreal Protocol and its extensions is working and the amount of ozone depleting substances in the atmosphere is dropping. Only Timor Leste and Andorra have not signed the basic treaty.

Hope this is helpful. Paul H.