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Physics: Prof. H. Meijer: Global Warming: Al Gore is right! (or is he?)


22 February 2007 FWN-Building 5111.0080, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG, Groningen
Speaker: Prof. Harro Meijer
Affiliation: CIO, University of Groningen
Title: Physics: Global Warming: Al Gore is right! (or is he?)
Date: 22-02-2007
Start: 16.00
Location: FWN-Building 5111.0080


During the last decades, the global temperature has increased by about 0.7 °C. Some regions, most notably the Arctic , have experienced considerably larger increases than this average.

At the same time, mankind has been influencing the atmospheric composition in a dramatic fashion: Several trace constituents of the atmosphere, such as CO2, CH4, N2O, are much more abundant now than a century ago. This is without any doubt caused by human processes, the largest effect being on CO2, due to massive fossil fuel use.

All these anthropogenically influenced trace gases are effective thermal infrared absorbers, "greenhouse gases". Their natural abundance in the atmosphere is crucial for maintaining a climate on our planet that is suitable for life. With their increased abundance nowadays, more outgoing radiation gets trapped, and the greenhouse effect is increased. This must inevitably lead to global warming, but just by how much is a very complicated matter, due to the huge number of feedbacks involved in the climate system. Moreover, apart from greenhouse gases, other anthropogenic actions influence the radiation balance as well.

In the colloquium, I will try to illustrate our knowledge of climate and its history, as well as the global carbon cycle. I will also show the recent update by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC). As the "climate change" item is still a matter of public debate as well ("Al Gore vs. Elsevier" in the Dutch setting), I will try to illustrate which parts of the science are certain and which are less. Hopefully, there will be ample time for discussion.

Last modified:12 September 2014 11.21 a.m.