Climate change and catastrophic Amazon die-back – genuine threat or crying wolf?

OCTF seminar followed by drinks – all welcome

<strong>Speaker: </strong>Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts, Met Office Hadley Centre

Earth System Model projections suggest a very wide range of possibilities for the future state of the Amazon under 21st Century climate change. At one extreme, the older generation of Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) models simulated extreme warming and drought, and catastrophic forest die-back, with wider consequences throughout the climate system. Other models, including more recent versions of the MOHC models, produce less severe impacts, but nevertheless many still simulate changes which could have profound consequences. In this talk Richard Betts will give an overview of the various different results, discuss some of the reasons thought to be behind the differences, and discuss outstanding research questions that still need to be addressed.

Richard Betts is Chair in Climate Impacts at the University of Exeter and Head of Climate Impacts in the Met Office Hadley Centre. His undergraduate studies were in Physics at the University of Bristol, followed by an MSc in Meteorology and Climatology at the University of Birmingham. For his PhD, he used climate models to assess the role of the world’s ecosystems in global climate and climate change. He has worked in climate modelling since 1992, with a particular interest in the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and the interactions with other impacts of climate change such as on water resources. He is also interested in the wide-ranging effects of land use and land cover change on climate. He has pioneered a number of key developments in the extension of climate models to include biological processes. He leads the EU Framework 7 Project HELIX (High-End cLimate Impacts and eXtremes), which assesses the impacts of climate change at 2, 4 and 6°C global warming above pre-industrial state.

Richard was a lead author on the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Working Group 1 (The Physical Science Basis), leading the assessment of the influences of land cover change on climate and contributing to the assessment of climate change impacts on fresh water. He played a similar role in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. He is also lead author on the IPCC 5th Assessment Report in Working Group 2 (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability), responsible for assessing the impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems.