AGU Chapman Conference on Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future

Presenter: Richard Alley

Warming has been reducing the Earth’s ice in many ways, primarily affecting the more temperature-sensitive types and seasons including Arctic sea ice and coastal parts of Greenland and West Antarctica, but with less-consistent changes or even increases in especially cold places and times including Antarctic sea ice and interior ice-sheet regions. “Global warming” models have shown skill in projecting these that may not be understood by many members of the public. Projections of cryospheric response to additional warming generally show more and faster shrinkage.

Of particular interest in this respect are changes in ice sheets, which are expected to contribute to sea-level rise, and which have at least a slight chance of contributing greatly and rapidly. The distribution of possible outcomes, a most-likely estimate that is at least somewhat costly to society, with the chance of costs being slightly less, slightly more, or much more, but without a corresponding chance of much less, is common to many issues of climate change, but also rather difficult to communicate and often not well-recognized in public.

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