why is there so much uncertainty regarding climate change

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  • reasons for uncertainty when predicting emissions for the future
    • level of economic development
      • BRIC countries that are striving for rapid economic development are high polluters
      • if there is uncertainty about emissions there will be uncertainty about average sea temperature and therefore how much melting of ice/sea expansion
    • role of mitigation strategies
      • increased mitigation will reduce CO2 levels allowing more of it to be sequestered in carbon sinks but there's no way of knowing by how much/if at all countries will reduce their emissions in light of the KYOTO PROTOCOL
      • how willing will countries be to reduce emissions? will it effect their levels of economic development e.g. UK 12% renewable and France = 80%
    • atmospheric inertia
      • even if all CO2 producing was stopped tomorrow there would still be a period of warming of about 100 years for carbon sinks to sequester enough to reduce atmospheric concentrations
    • feedback mechanisms
      • uncertainty of the roles that different feedback mechanisms will create e.g. shutting down of the thermohaline current will cool temperaturesand allow land ice to propagate but thawing of permafrost will continue to amplify the change
    • poor science and understanding

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