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The Investigators
The InvestigatorsRTÉ One, Thursday 11.05pm

Programme 3: Climate Change

Thursday 20 November 2008

In order to properly understand what is happening with climate change and what the effects might be in the future, scientists throughout the world must understand the processes driving climate change, the interactions and feedbacks between different parts of the Earth's atmosphere, oceans and land mass and the Earth's interaction with other parts of the solar system. Developing and testing theories to explain the Earth's climate is an important part of solving the challenges of climate change.

Understanding of the various climate feedbacks (negative and positive) is essential for effective policy making. One of the techniques used to represent the physical drivers of climate is mathematical modelling run on high spec computers operated by the UCD Meterorology and Climate Centre and the Irish Centre for High End Computing. Researchers are also looking at Ireland's relationship with the Sun and with the seas that surround us and what the possible results of existing climate change may bring, for example how the melting of glaciers and the introduction of huge quantities of fresh water into our oceans might affect the ocean currents. The programme also looks at the concept of climate shift (a major climactic change which can occur in a very short period of time with sometimes severe consequences).

Contributors to the programme include:

Prof Ray Bates, UCD expert in climate systems and feedback mechanisms; uses modelling to test theories and develop explanations for climate functions.

Prof Peter Lynch UCD is using these new models to help to better predict the results of climate change for Ireland. In some cases he is attempting to "predict the unpredictable". Both are analysing change in relation to the earth's oceans.

Alistair McKinstry - IBM Blue - Gene computer for high end computing for EC Earth

Paul Dunlop and Sara Bennetti - Glaciologists - they are working on the premise that investigations into clues left by Ireland's last ice age may yield clues as to what will happen when the last two remaining ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica) melt. We follow them as they head out to the far shores of Irish waters and drop a drilling core into the sea bed to take samples and analyse the results.

Professor Peter Lynch
Professor Peter Lynch