Physicists are trying to apply the physics of the greenhouse effect to a broad range of climate change-related problems, including how to limit global warming and protect people from the effects of heat waves and floods.
As part of the International Conference on Climate Change, a gathering of about 400 researchers from around the world, a group of physicists from around Europe and the United States will hold a seminar in the coming weeks on “what can be done with climate change” in their area.
The topic is called “What to Do When the Weather Gets Bad: How the Physicians Are Thinking.”
The topic comes up repeatedly at the conference, but a group from the University of Warwick, England, said it hopes to push forward by focusing on what’s known about the greenhouse-gas theory of climate and the physics behind the greenhouse.
“The idea is that you could apply physics to things that would be difficult or impossible in the past,” said Paul J. Hargreaves, the group’s research director and a professor of physics at Warwick.
“It’s not that this is going to be easy, but it’s going to take a lot of thinking about what is going on in our world and what the consequences are for our lives and our future.”
Hargreades said the group has already created a “very high-quality climate model” for climate change that shows the impact of global warming.
He said the model is “extremely accurate” in showing the impact climate change could have on people, animals and the environment.
“Our hope is that it will help us to develop a framework that can guide our understanding of the consequences of climate-related impacts and how they can be managed,” Hargreses said.
The group will present its work at the next International Conference of the American Physical Society, which is scheduled for April 30-May 1 in San Francisco.
“This is going in an exciting direction, and I’m really excited about the prospect of working with people like myself and with the UK team to develop some new ideas and new applications of physics to deal with climate issues,” Higgs said.
“I think it’s a very exciting opportunity to be involved in the climate change movement and to work on some of the most interesting problems in physics and in climate science.”
The conference is one of several that have been held to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the National Academy of Sciences, which Hargrebates joined in 1983.
The National Academy has also convened many climate change talks in recent years, including one on July 3 in Washington, D.C. The event drew nearly 3,000 attendees.
The conference will focus on two topics, including “how to mitigate climate change, what to do when the weather goes bad, and how to protect our homes and property,” according to the group website.
The topics include how to manage climate-induced damage to buildings, how to improve water quality and sanitation, and the need for “climate-change adaptation measures” to help people survive extreme weather events.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to have a look at this,” said Peter Turchin, the chair of the academy’s board of directors.
“If you want to learn more about what the climate is, what’s the climate like in the future, and what can we do about it, this is a great way to do that.”
The National Academies’ website describes the meeting as an opportunity for the academy to bring together researchers and educators from around a variety of fields to discuss climate science, and to “give them an opportunity to share their work and ideas with one another.”
Higgs said he hopes the talks will be of interest to people across the globe.
“As scientists, we have an obligation to be part of a solution to the problem,” he said.
“We should be talking about how we might go about getting it done.”