Past Present and Future
Professor Ed Hawkins is a climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, based in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading. He is a Lead Author for the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment Report and was awarded the Royal Society Kavli Medal in 2018.
The hot and dry summer of 2018 was a reminder of just how vulnerable society can be to unusual weather through overheating buildings, transport disruption, lower crop production and risks to human health. Such heat waves are now hotter because the planet has warmed over the past century, largely due to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases. Other consequences of a warming world are that extreme rainfall events have become more frequent and sea levels have risen as the oceans expand and the glaciers melt.
This lecture outlined how our climate has already changed, and what we might expect in the future. Further changes are inevitable. The Paris Agreement aims to stabilise global temperatures but society choices will decide how much change we should expect.