It was a full house at the Rye Meeting House February 28 for a talk by climatologist Dr. Alexis Berg.
By Bill Lawyer
It was a full house at the Rye Meeting House February 28 for a talk by climatologist Dr. Alexis Berg. Many of those in attendance were Rye Middle School earth science students. All of the attendees were interested in the subject matter:
“How Does the Land Affect Climate?”
A native of France, Dr. Berg, studied environmental sciences and agrometeorology at Institut National Agronomique de Paris-Grignon. He graduated in 2006 with an M.S. in “sciences of the terrestrial biosphere” and then moved to the Paris-based Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, where he worked first as a research assistant on a weather-index crop insurance project in West Africa. Then, as a Ph.D. student, he used land surface modeling to study climate change impacts on crops and land-use/climate feedbacks in West Africa. Since 2013, he has worked for Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society at their Nyack research facilities.
After a brief review of climate research from ancient times to the 19th century, Dr. Berg focused on the many variables involved in testing theories about the impact of the nature of land use on rainfall and temperature.
Using a series of slides, he discussed how, through the use of powerful computers and satellite data, complex models of interaction can be tested. He compared climate modeling with the technology being used to predict and track storms, blizzards, and other weather events.
While noting that scientists around the world have developed varying models that differ in the details of predicted outcomes, Dr. Berg said all agree that increased carbon dioxide causes an increase in global temperatures.
One practical application of climate modeling research is that changes in agricultural technology and practices — using “no-till” soil treatment, for example — can reduce the rate of temperature increase.