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First Published: September 24: 2015
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Kristy Mar, a middle school teacher at J.H. Hull Middle School in Torrance, California, peers through microscope to examine moon rocks encapsulated in clear Lucite. Image: NASA Photo:Ken Ulbrich. Posted: December 09, 2015

Past Is Key to Predicting Future Climate Scientists Say


|| Sunday: November 15: 2020 || ά. An international team of climate scientists, including, academics from the School of Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton, suggests that research centres around the world using numerical models to predict future climate change should include simulations of past climates in their evaluation and statement of their model performance.

In a review Paper, published in the journal Science, Southampton researchers Dr Gordon Inglis, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow and Professor Gavin Foster, of Isotope Geo-chemistry and their research colleagues make the case for including paleoclimate data in the development of climate models. Such models are used to predict future climate change scenarios and propose strategies for mitigation. "We urge the climate model developer community to pay attention to the past and actively involve it in predicting the future." said Associate Professor Jessica Tierney, the Paper's Lead Author and an Associate Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Geo-sciences.

 "If, your model can simulate past climates accurately, it likely will do a much better job at getting future scenarios right.” As more and better information becomes available about climates in Earth's distant history, reaching back many millions of years before humans existed, past climates become increasingly relevant for improving our understanding of how key elements of the climate system are affected by greenhouse gas levels, according to the Study's authors.

Dr Gordon Inglis said, “Past climates are different to modern but, they provide us with rich evidence of how climate processes operate across the range of carbon dioxide concentrations associated with future emission scenarios.”

Past climates can, also, improve our estimates of climate sensitivity, the global temperature change for a doubling in carbon dioxide concentrations. Professor Gavin Foster said, “Previous studies suggest that this was about the same in the past as anticipated for the future, about 03 to 0 4°C. However, we have recently shown that this value may increase in past warm climates. This could be of particular importance to our future climate as CO2 increases and the Earth continues to warm.”

In the Paper, the authors, also, applied climate models to several known past climate extremes from the geological record. The most recent warm climate offering a glimpse into the future occurred about 50 million years ago during the Eocene epoch. Global carbon dioxide was at 1,000 parts per million at that time and there were no large ice sheets.

“The Eocene epoch was, also, characterised by short-lived perturbations to the Earth system., Dr Inglis said. “This includes the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum:PETM, which occurred about 56 million years ago. This event was triggered by the sudden and rapid emission of greenhouse gases and may foreshadow changes, that the Earth will experience, owing to anthropogenic emissions. During the PETM, global temperatures spiked between 04 and 06°C and had profound impacts on the environment, including, rainfall patterns, vegetation distributions and soil erosion.”

Typically, climate scientists evaluate their models with data from historical weather records, such as, satellite measurements, sea surface temperatures, wind speeds, cloud cover and other parameters. The model's algorithms are, then, adjusted and tuned until their predictions mesh with the observed climate records. Thus, if, a computer simulation produces a historically accurate climate based on the observations made during that time, it is considered fit to predict future climate with reasonable accuracy.

Some models are much better than others at producing the climates seen in the geologic record, which underscores the need to test climate models against paleoclimates, the authors said. In particular, past warm climates, such as the Eocene, highlight the role, that clouds play in contributing to warmer temperatures under increased carbon dioxide levels.

"We urge the climate community to test models on paleoclimates early on, while the models are being developed, rather than afterwards, which tends to be the current practice." Associate Professor Tierney said. "Seemingly, small things like clouds affect the Earth's energy balance in major ways and can affect the temperatures your model produces for the year 2,100."

The Paper: Past climates inform our future: published in Science

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The Act Acorn Project Publishes Its Findings on the Prospect of Carbon Capture and Storage in the North Sea




|| February 21: 2019: University of Liverpool News || ά. The ACT Acorn project, an international research project, which involves University geology experts, has announced the findings of its research into the feasibility of establishing a carbon capture and storage facility in the North Sea. Carbon capture and storage:CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide:CO2 emissions, transporting it and securely storing it in rock formations under the sea, where the geology is suitable.

The University provided expertise in geology and rock deformation to the ACT Acorn project to check whether the sandstone and caprock at two potential storage sites in the North Sea were suitable for the injection and long-term storage of CO2. The research team analysed multiple sandstone and caprock samples using highly specialist equipment, which is unique to the University’s Rock Deformation and Diagenesis Laboratories.  Samples were tested for their porosity, permeability, mineral content and their strength under pressure. Liverpool Geologist, Professor Richard Worden, presented the results of his geochemical, mineralogical, petrological analysis of the sandstone and caprock and the results of tests to measure the rocks’ strength under pressure at an event in London.

He said, “We were able to use specialist high-pressure deformation apparatus in our Rock Deformation Laboratory to test the geology and strength of the sandstone and caprock and to replicate the conditions experienced down at the reservoir depth. We found that at both potential storage sites the sandstone and caprock had the right levels of porosity and permeability necessary for the injection and long term storage of CO2. Our contribution to this project continues Liverpool’s nine year track record of high impact research into CCS.”

The key findings from the ACT Acorn project confirmed that the UK’s existing North Sea oil and gas transport infrastructure, coupled with an impressive natural CO2 geological storage resource, offers significant benefits and value.  It, ultimately, ranked the North Sea’s East May and Captain Sandstone formations as the top storage sites, selected out of 16 possible sites.

The ACT Acorn project involved eight partners from the UK, Norway and the Netherlands and is led by Pale Blue Dot Energy.  Other partners include Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage, University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, Bellona: Norway and Radboud University: The Netherlands. 

The ACT Acorn was funded by the European Commission’s ERA-NET ACT programme.:::ω.

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