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Focus On: Environmental Impact & Sustainability

Dr Khalil Khan
24 September 2019

Planet Earth - Environment

The Earth’s climate system is a complex, interactive system consisting of the atmosphere, land surface, snow and ice, oceans and other bodies of water, and living things. The atmospheric component of the climate system most obviously characterises climate; climate is often defined as ‘average weather’. 

The climate system evolves in time under the influence of its own internal dynamics and due to changes in external factors that affect climate (called ‘forcings’). External forcings include natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions and solar variations, as well as human-induced changes in atmospheric composition. Solar radiation powers the climate system. Climate, in turn, responds directly to such changes, as well as indirectly, through a variety of feedback mechanisms.

The global surface temperatures are noisy, meaning they are always varying to some degree due to constant interactions between various components of our complex Earth’s climate system (e.g. land, ocean, air, Ice). The interplay among these components drive our weather. You may be familiar with the Keeling Curve, a long-term record of global carbon dioxide concentrations. It’s not a straight line: The curve jiggles up and down every year due to the seasonal cycling of carbon dioxide. But the long-term trend is clearly up, especially in recent decades. As countries around the world rapidly develop and gross domestic products increase, human-produced emissions of carbon dioxide are accelerating. The long term independent global temperature records maintained by NASA, NOAA and the UK’s Climatic Research Unit do show there are short term ups and downs in temperature but long term trend is clearly up. Environmental scientists have shown the relationship between carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and global temperature (climate change).

The primary difference between the Arctic and Antarctica is geographical. The Arctic is an ocean, covered by a thin layer of perennial sea ice and surrounded by land. ("Perennial" refers to the oldest and thickest sea ice.) Antarctica, on the other hand, is a continent, covered by a very thick ice cap and surrounded by a rim of sea ice and the Southern Ocean.

Nowhere else on our planet are the effects of climate change as massive or clearly visible as in the Arctic. Understanding these effects is the driving goal behind the measurements that will be taken during the largest Arctic science expedition ever conceived. The MOSAiC expedition is to take the closest look ever at the Arctic to gain fundamental insight that are key to better understand global climate change. Hundreds of researchers from 19 countries take part in this exceptional endeavour. The data gathered will be used by scientists around the globe to take climate research to a completely new level. This data will contribute towards prediction of rate of climatic change and extent of measures that are required to slow and may be reverse the human induced aspects. 

Project METaL’s course titled ‘Environmental Impact and Sustainability’ provides the details of climate change that impact our day-to-day lives. The short training course will cover the legislations that apply to industry and methodologies employed towards complying with regulations.  The three day course will also highlight new technologies and future trends that are having a positive impact on environment and our planet. To learn more about the Environmental Impact and Sustainability course please click here.