Filipino NASA Scientist Lectures about Climate Change

Balik Scientist. Dr. Josefino Comiso, NASA senior research scientist discussed Climate Change and Typhoon Haiyan.

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), in cooperation with the University of the Philippines Los Baños Climate Risk Studies Center (UPLB CRSC), held its 7th Green Seminar Series entitled "Cryosphere Chapter of the IPCC WG1 Report – Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis" last 16 October 2015 at the SESAM Lecture Hall.


Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Balik-Scientist Dr. Josefino C. Comiso presented a lecture entitled "IPCC Assessment of Our Climate in 2013 and Insights into the Unusual Strength Typhoon Haiyan". Dr. Comiso, a senior research scientist at the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory of the Goddard Space Flight Center. He graduated with a BS degree in Physics from the University of the Philippines, with a Master's Degree in Physics from Florida State University and a Ph. D. in physics from the University of California in Los Angeles. He had been the chief scientist in many NASA aircraft missions in the Arctic and Antarctic. He also has been the recipient of several NASA awards, and had been the coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1 (WG1) 5th Assessment Report (AR5) "Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis," which was published in 2014.

"What the people do realize sometimes is the climate is actually changing not just because of natural variability but because of what we human being had been doing in the last hundred years," Dr. Comiso said. He explained that the climate has been changing because of anthropogenic causes in addition to the natural causes. "The earth has warmed up by about 1 degree in the last century," he said. "But the trends are not uniform," he added.

He mentioned that the temperature anomaly of climate change indicators, which are land surface air temperature, sea-surface temperature, and marine air temperature, are increasing; the sea level is increasing and the summer arctic sea-ice extent is decreasing. Among the different components of climate change, which are solar, volcanic, oscillatory and anthropogenic, he concluded that the anthropogenic components contributed most to the increase in temperature. He stressed that the total radiative forcing is positive – the largest contribution to this was caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750. He also presented the projections for changes in surface temperature, precipitation, sea ice and PH.

"The impacts of climate change are extreme events, flooding, drought, landslides, fire, dead trees, sea level rise, health, and loss of biodiversity," Dr. Comiso said. "With this list, we need to do something about it," he added.

In the last part of his lecture, he stated how the trends in sea surface temperature (SST) could explain the occurrence of Haiyan last November 2013. "If you look at SST anomalies in October, that's the anomaly, and it expanded to November, so Haiyan occurred sometime, at 8 of November, and that's when SST is very high," he said.

The event was attended by a total of 97 participants, consisting of UPLB students, faculty and staff.

The Green Seminar Series, which is regularly being held by the UPLB-CRSC, aims to promote awareness campaign and exchanges of scientific knowledge and risk-based action and policy planning for climate change adaptation and mitigation.