Climate Change is occurring at a rapid and alarming pace, and is the subject of the upcoming COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference. The rate of climate change will greatly influence how disruptive climate change is to societies and the ecosystems that support us. The possibility of climate change occurring on very short time scales (decades or less) is not commonly within the media and public's eye, but presents different challenges than gradual climate change. This presentation will cover various aspects of abrupt climate change and include examples of abrupt climate change from the geologic record to present day. The examples will also touch upon how abrupt climate change has influenced human civilizations in the past and will possibly do so in the future.
Joe Melton is a PhD student looking at methane dynamics across abrupt climate change in the ice core record, interested to understand how methane sources respond to rapid changes in climate, which sources are capable of rapid change and of what magnitude they react. This has implications for our present warming and methane sources (e.g. in the arctic with melting of permafrost). Mr. Melton’s post-doctoral work will also involve modeling of global wetlands to understand the dynamics of this most important natural source.