No program on weather extremes and severe weather would be complete without a look at climate change. Our climate is undergoing stunning changes and nobel-prize winning climate researcher Dr. Don Wuebbles of the University of Illinois-Champaign will address this and what we may do to mitigate some of the effects of climate change. Dr. Wuebbles is one of our country’s most authoritative voices on our planet’s changing climate.
Our Changing Climate and What it Means for the United States
By Dr. Don Wuebbles
I am currently co-leading a special assessment of the state of understanding of climate science for the United States government. This assessment provides a comprehensive assessment of the science underlying the changes occurring in the Earth’s climate system, with a special focus on the United States. To summarize the findings, the science is clear—the climate on our planet, including the United States, is changing, changing much more rapidly than occurs naturally, and it is happening primarily because of human activities, especially from land use change and our use of fossil fuels. Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Documented changes include surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; and rising sea level. Storms are changing in intensity, precipitation patterns are altering, and the occurrence of droughts is shifting. Humanity is already feeling the effects of the changes in extreme weather and in sea level rise. Many sectors of our society are being affected, including threats on human health and well-being. The United States is seeing effects from the changing climate and these effects are likely to continue and get significantly larger in the future, affecting the people that live and work here. But there is hope—our future depends on how we act to limit climate change and its impacts. We need to be acting on this, not only for ourselves, but for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
About Dr. Donald J. Wuebbles
Don Wuebbles is the Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois. Until mid-January, Dr. Wuebbles had been on assignment from the University for most of the last two years to be the Assistant Director for climate science with the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the Executive Office of the President in Washington DC. Dr. Wuebbles is an expert in atmospheric physics and chemistry, with over 500 scientific publications related to the Earth’s climate, air quality, and the stratospheric ozone layer. However his work goes well beyond that through providing analyses and development of metrics used in national and international policy and in developing analyses for understanding climate impacts on society. He has co-authored a number of international scientific assessments, including most recently as a coordinating lead author for the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment on the science of climate change, the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment, and the 2014 WMO assessment on stratospheric ozone. He has received many awards, including the Cleveland Abbe Award from the American Meteorological Society, the Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and is a Fellow of three major professional science societies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society.