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AGU Chapman Conference on water vapor – the final report

The AGU Chapman Conference on water vapour and its role in climate has come to a close, and I have headed back to not so sunny London. In addition to getting scientists out of the lab, the meeting afforded great opportunities for normally independent communities to interact. Pupu platters and Longboard Ales led to a very interesting discussion about the meaning of terms such as mean global precipitation and temperature rise. Are statistics such as these preventing scientists from meaningfully communicating results about climate change? This of course comes back to old faithful argument “if the Earth is getting warmer, why did it snow last week?” Definitely something to think about when preparing press releases or giving interviews.

On a more formal conference note, Kate Willett of the Met Office Hadley Centre gave a great presentation on the effects that rising heat stress could have on human health. She found that the number of days that exceed the heat and humidity thresholds established by the US Army have increased over most of the globe. If the projections of the IPCC AR4 models are correct, this trend is likely to continue, posing health hazards for outdoor athletes and labourers, as well as active duty soldiers.

While I am a bit sorry to see the meeting end, I for one am looking forward to the results of some ongoing work that are expected to be presented at the Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco. See you there!

Alicia Newton


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