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Global Environmental Change


By: Julia Cole

John Wiley & Sons

Paperback | Jun 2014 | #191082 | ISBN-13: 9781405162586
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NHBS Price: £27.99 $37/€32 approx

About this book

The author writes:

The inspiration for this book arose from a highly regarded class I teach at the University of Arizona, in which 30-40 undergraduate and graduate students from many disciplines and programs learn about the basic science of global environmental change. The students are diverse in their interests (they come not just from natural science programs, but also from social science, engineering, and education programs), and in their preparation (from undergraduate juniors to Ph.D. candidates). I try to teach this material in a way that allows everyone to grasp the important points even if the subject is new to them, while including the very latest science from research journals to keep the more advanced students engaged. My goals, beyond helping students to learn the basic material, include highlighting the interconnectedness of global change science and inspiring students to pursue, create and disseminate further knowledge in this field.

Why write a textbook in such a rapidly expanding field? No semester-long class can convey the full breadth and depth of knowledge in global change science; no textbook can accomplish this either. With this book, I aim to provide a resource for the teaching of global change that offers a foundation in the appropriate subjects and a springboard for curiosity about further reading and research. This book will serve as an introduction to the science of global environmental change and an inspiration for students to pursue further coursework and research that is grounded in a global change context. I also hope it will help instructors to design interdisciplinary global change courses that reach beyond their immediate areas of expertise. The topics range across physical climate science, biogeochemistry, ecosystems, and global change impacts; I have also included sections on societal responses to and drivers of environmental change. I expect the science chapters (sections 1-3 in attached outline) to make up roughly 65 of the book. Each chapter will include references for further reading, and a website (regularly maintained) will update these listings with recent journal and policy publications. I expect this book will be a starting point for students who want to go further in environmental change research, or a strong, state-of-the-art summary for those whose careers lie in other directions.


Global Environmental Change - Outline. 1 Introduction. The Earth system is experiencing dramatic environmental change: biogeochemical, ecological, climatic. Some change is natural, but most can be attributed to human activity. The interconnections and feedbacks among natural and human systems greatly complicate our ability to foresee the consequences of our actions. 1.1 Context of changes. * Environmental change not unique to modern time. * Alarm arises from likely impacts and potential to foresee (and avert) harmful change. * Our role as custodians for larger tapestry of biological diversity. * Particular responsibility of industrial nations: those responsible for changes are not those most vulnerable to its impacts1.2 Purpose of book. * Basic information on major aspects of Earth system changes and their causes. * Road map for those who want to pursue further study. * Highlight connections between fields that are often compartmentalized. * References to current scientific literature, web resources. * Stimulate informed action to minimize harmful impacts2 The physical climate system 2.1 Radiation 2.1.1 Earth's radiative balance Natural variations in radiative forcing Albedo; forcings vs feedbacks 2.1.2 Greenhouse gases: CO2, CH4, N2O, chlorofluorocarbons, O3 Basic information on each: sources/sinks, residence times, recent histories 2.1.3 Tropospheric aerosols Sources and types Radiative effects: direct, semidirect, indirect Atmospheric hydrologic impacts Observations and human/ecological impacts: plumes off Asia and Africa; remote air quality impacts; coral disease vector? 2.1.4 Stratospheric ozone depletion Background: O3 distribution; Mechanisms of production and destruction Observations (Antarctic) - seasonal dependence, extent and amplitude of depletion. Chemistry: O3 destruction by chlorofluorocarbons; Cl reservoir compounds; roles of Br and N2O Relationships with global warming: radiatively active gases; relate to stratospheric temperatures Global depletion of stratospheric O3 Montreal protocol (plus amendments) and the projected recovery of Antarctic ozone hole. BOX: comparing the policy responses to ozone depletion and climate change2.2 The modern climate system 2.2.1 Surface ocean and atmosphere Atmospheric Hadley circulation Surface ocean currents Natural climate patterns/systems: the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), monsoons, annular modes, multidecadal modes Thermohaline/deep ocean circulation Climate extremes: tropical storms, drought, flood, heat wave. BOX: Forecasting ENSO and its impacts2.3 Paleoclimatology: climate lessons from the past 2.3.1 Paleoclimate introduction Motivations Methods 2.3.2 Temperature reconstructions Past 2 millennia: Late 20th century is warmer than any recent period 2.3.3 Drought "Megadroughts" a naturally occurring phenomenon 2.3.4 Modes of variability (ENSO, monsoons) Natural variability large, and sensitive to radiative forcing (Holocene) 2.3.5 Thermohaline circulation Past changes large, abrupt Sensitivity to future change?. Box: Abrupt change - beyond the North Atlantic paradigm; is this the climate system's normal way of behaving?2.4 Observing and simulating climate change 2.4.1 Climate models Types Limitations Validation 2.4.2 Current and future climate trends - observations and predictions Temperature: means, extremes; stratospheric vs tropospheric Hydrologic: Amount and intensity of precipitation; drought; flood; storms/hurricanes; vapor; clouds Systems: ENSO, monsoon Cryosphere: glaciers, snow cover, sea ice, ice sheets, frozen ground. Box: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and assessing the state of the science3 Biogeochemical systems 3.1 Carbon cycle overview 3.1.1 Global system; sources, sinks, reservoirs, fluxes Natural and anthropogenic components - relative scales. BOX: Carbon isotopes as tracers of carbon cycle processes3.2 Terrestrial carbon cycle 3.2.1 Basic processes and concepts: photosynthesis, respiration, turnover time, soils. vegetation 3.2.2 Ways of measuring ecosystem carbon 3.2.3 Regional results: Amazon; Arctic; temperate forests in N America, Europe 3.2.4 Current and future terrestrial carbon budget. BOX: Managing ecosystems for carbon - examples3.3 Marine carbon cycle 3.3.1 Inorganic aspects: gas flux; carbonate and alkalinity; ocean acidification 3.3.2 Organic aspects: nutrients; biological pump; dissolved organic C 3.3.3 Future of the ocean carbon sink: biological pump vs circulation. BOX: Iron fertilization3.4 Global carbon cycle revisited: Anthropogenic perturbation 3.4.1 Summary of anthropogenic sources and sinks Using CO2 measurements, C isotopes, O2 concentrations 3.5 Nitrogen cycle 3.5.1 Processes and terminology Fixation, denitrification, Forms 3.5.2 Global cycle: natural and anthropogenic Marine Terrestrial 3.5.3 Impacts of excess - terrestrial systems Carbon fixation (N fertilization) - estimates Ecosystem acidification 3.5.4 Impacts of excess - marine systems Productivity stimulus; eutrophication; "dead zones". BOX: Yaqui Valley/Gulf of California story3.6 Biogeochemistry of other greenhouse gases 3.6.1 Methane Key processes Sources and sinks Recent time history: changes in growth rate 3.6.2 Tropospheric ozone Production - needs both volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides Sources of VOCs, NOx Impacts 4 Drivers of environmental change 4.1 Energy 4.1.1 Basic numbers: usage, sources, consumption, production Global, regional/country example Break down by end use Projections - regional and by end use 4.1.2 Oil Production - regional breakdown Supply: "peak oil" debate Nonconventional sources; oil shale, tar sands - issues 4.1.3 Coal Production - regional differences Supply - regional differences Making coal more useful: cleaning; C sequestration (refer to other section); gasification? 4.1.4 Supplies - noncarbon alternatives Hydrogen: complications from production method; need for infrastructure Renewables: Sufficient? Nuclear: issues related to waste (Yucca debate), economics/subsidies. BOX: Stabilization wedges (current technologies to stabilize growth of atmospheric GHGs)4.2 Population and Consumption 4.2.1 The demographic transition: populations stabilize as country develops Examples from high-growth, stable, declining 4.2.2 Population trends and regional aspects Age structures Other aspects: urbanization, coastal, AIDS 4.2.3 Consumption Different consumption levels determine "footprint" of added population 4.3 Land Use 4.3.1 Deforestation and Fire Clearcutting vs other means of forest impoverishment (logging, fragmentation, etc.) Estimates of land cleared or affected, carbon lost Consequences: physical climate/hydrology; biodiversity; biogeochemical) Biomass burning and its atmospheric consequences 4.3.2 Agricultural expansion and intensification (link to previous section) Consequences of tillage: soil lost; C lost Other aspects of agricultural intensification: chemical and mechanical requirements; genetic diversity lost; factory farm pollution; etc. 5 Impacts of environmental change 5.1 Ecological 5.1.1 Observed impacts Range shifts; phenology; behavior; extinctions; fire 5.1.2 Biodiversity Basics on biodiversity (types, value, etc.) Diversity = resiliency (insurance) Hotspots 5.1.3 Case studies Coral reefs Arctic (Others?). BOX: invasive species impacts5.2 Sea level 5.2.1 Basic processes local vs global eustatic thermal expansion 5.2.2 Observations: what are true rates of rise Satellite Tide gauge 5.2.3 Predictions Modeling future changes Ice sheets and fast ice processes - wildcard. BOX: Integrated impacts of global change on low-lying coastal communities: sea level, storm surges, population growth, ecosystems.5.3 Disease and health 5.3.1 Relate to natural climate variability ENSO-cholera, hantavirus, Rift Valley fever; many others 5.3.2 Future changes in infectious disease mosquito-borne, coccidiomycosis, water-borne, others 5.3.3 Future changes in unhealthy extremes Heat waves, storms Air quality 5.4 Agriculture 5.4.1 Prediction of productivity Model predictions Geographic and socioeconomic differences Issues in forecasting - examples 5.4.2 Uncertainties Direct effects of CO2 Other limits/uncertainties: water, ozone, nutrient concerns, need for capital-intensive measures Adaptations on many scales, from individual farmer practices to genetic research programs 5.5 Water 5.5.1 Quantity Impacts are regional Impact of cryospheric change Impact on infrastructure Demand more of an issue than climate change per se; "soft paths" hold hope for increasing efficiency of use 5.5.2 Quality Consequence of socioeconomic, population changes Waterborne diseases 6 Societal action on environmental change: minimizing the impacts 6.1 Mitigation AND adaptation needed 6.2 Motivation for actions 6.2.1 Recognition of impacts 6.2.2 Ethical dimensions 6.2.3 Uncertainty issue 6.2.4 Risk-assessment: "insurance" 6.2.5 Cost-benefit: limits of economic approach 6.2.6 No-regrets strategies 6.3 Climate change policy 6.3.1 International United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Kyoto protocol: basic structure, provisions, mechanisms; interest groups Beyond Kyoto 6.3.2 US role - as major emitter and technology developer Position and actions - national Politicization and public perception: "skeptics", "balance", and other distractions Local/state actions: Cities, states setting emissions targets 6.3.3 Legal actions International, native nations, regional 6.3.4 Industry Increasing acceptance and even support of regulation: Need certainty Public relations vs genuine recognition of problem Emissions targets, other voluntary measures. BOX: Carbon consequences of personal decisions6.4 Responses 6.4.1 Geoengineering: Carbon sequestration Marine, terrestrial 6.4.2 Geoengineering: Intentional climate modification 6.4.3 Adaptation to climate change Sustainability Resiliency

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Dr Julia Cole is a faculty member in the Dept Geological Sciences, University of Arizona. She is well-known internationally for her work on elucidating past climate change from the geological record

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