This week, almost all the coursework we have to do this term was set – I am doing a group presentation and individual essay about the scientific disagreement on the statement “it is likely that changes in ice dynamics in Greenland and Antarctica will contribute far more to sea-level rise that predicted in the IPCC AR4” (AR 4 is the assessment report four, the writing that made the IPCC famous). I am not trough all the literature yet, but after reading the relevant chapters of the AR4, I tend to believe what my group has to support in the debate: yes, it is. Until few years ago, glaciologists beleived that ice dynamics couldn’t make any fast changes – the most publicly known example that they can is the breakdown of ice shelf Larsen B in Antarctica in 2002 (maybe you heard of it in the media). Anyway, I’ll be reading some papers about that within the next week.Both the presentation and essay are due in week 6 – that is in four weeks’ time.
Another coursework for the same module will be a literature review on a scientific topic we may choose on our own – we have time until week 6 to decide upon it, but I think I am going to write about climate sensitivity (that is the question: how much does global temperature change by a given input of CO2?). This essay will be about five pages (2500 words) and we are expected to cite about 15 to 25 scientific papers (that is not a formal target, but gives an idea of how much we should read). One of the hot topics in climate sensitifity are feedback mechanisms – maybe you have heard that the permafrost regions in Siberia are defrosting, a process that releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, that enhances global warming, which causes more permafrost tawing etc… Apart from permafrost, the polar ice caps can be an important feedback mechanism – and there we are back in glaciology and what might have become my favourite topic: In environmental modelling, I’ll try to write a programm modelling the mass balance of a glacier. And I am thinking of extending that topic to my dissertation next year… But first, I have to write an essay on that, including the mathematical equations to express the problem. That is due in week 4, which is in a fortnight.
I might take an extra English class on academic writing for international students, but I’m not sure if that would help me. And I finally found some people doing mobilisation for the next climate action event, so next week will be busy anyway. Stories about Norwich castle and our house will have to wait until later – I’m going to have breakfast before going to an excursion to an athmospherical observation station at the coast.