BGS Climate Change
What is the BGS Climate Change programme?
The programme will focus on using earth sciences to understand climate change and specifically using climate change computational models to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.
It is important that the climate change models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and that drive both UK national and international policy, are as accurate as possible. Climate change models have come up short in recent years, largely because processes that provide feedback into the earth-climate system, such as ice-sheets and the glaciers that drain ice-sheets, are poorly understood.
a) identify feedbacks within the earth-climate system
b) understand how the environment behaves in times of rapid climate change.
What will the programme do?
- calibrate and validate climate change computational models using geological and present-day observations.
- examine the earth-climate system as was in the Pliocene epoch (the last time atmospheric carbon dioxide was as high as it will be by 2020), working with the U.S. Geological Survey.
- create a database of precise palaeontological, pollen, and isotopic information and combine this with modelling of the Pliocene climate.
- analyse periods of rapid climate and environmental change in the earth's history, using palaeoclimatic methods, in collaboration with the International Ocean Drilling Program, the University of California, University College of London and the University of Exeter.
- reduce the uncertainty in estimates of carbon in UK soils and find out whether UK soils give out more carbon than they take up.
- improve the accuracy of estimates of sea level change through the last 10,000 years, based on the spatial distribution of biochemical signatures of wetland ecosystems, in collaboration with the Universities of Pennsylvania and Yale, USA.
- examine the state of future climate and environment through both modelling and the analysis of sediment, contaminants and biogeochemical signatures. (The sum of these human-related processes defines the beginning of a new geological epoc - the Anthropocene).
- examine the dynamics of the Iceland ice-cap (the largest in Europe), as a testing ground to move into an outlet glacier in Greenland, which drains the largest and most vulnerable ice-sheet in the Arctic.
- Advice for the European Union, Business Innovation and Skills, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Environment Agency, Department for Encvironment, Food and Rural Affairs and devolved governments on global climate change and environmental impacts of climate change.
- Contributions to steering groups, advisory panels and government consultations on climate change.
- A mathematical model that couples groundwater to surface waters in the erosion and transport of sediment through the river-hillsope network. This is the pilot model that will be extended to include more environmental processes.
- Baseline data that characterise the current state of the physical environment, in order to initialise mathematical models that assess environmental sensitivity to climate change.
- Baseline data for the behaviour of the Iceland ice cap, which will inform both the Iceland and UK Met Offices of unusual activity of the largest ice-cap in Europe.
- Mathematical models of earlier and modern climates aimed at reducing uncertainties derived from poorly understood feedbacks in the earth-climate system.
Who will benefit?
- decision makers will be aware of the likely environmental impacts of climate change and the adaptation measures that will and will not work.
- practitioners will be aware of the environmental impact to climate change. The impact may be significant, for examplem the extent to which shallow sediments across the country and in the river and estuarine environment are heavily contaminated by the legacy of the industrial revolution is largely unknown.
- The Iceland and UK Met Offices will be informed of unusual activity of the largest ice-cap in Europe.
- National policies and international agreements will be better informed by more accurate models. This has great economic significance at all scales.
PROGRAMME FACTS AND FIGURES
Start and end dates: 01/04/10 to 31/3/15
Other organisations involved:
The Crown Estate
National Maritime Museum
Port of London Authority
University of Leicester
University of Leeds
University of Cambridge
University of Wales, Bangor
University of Exeter
University of Reading
U.S. Geological Survey
University of Pennsylvania