Roxana Bojariu, the coordinator of the climatology section at the National Meteorology Administration, one of the authors that elaborated the Fourth and Fifth Reports of the Inter-Government Group for the Study of Climate Change (IPCC), talked in our previous issue about the prediction for the next half of a century under the circumstances of climate changes and their impact at the level of Europe and Germany. In this last part of the interview, the expert explains the global level impact of the climate changes and outlines the measures to be taken by our country in order to join international efforts, especially in order to decrease the greenhouse effect causing gas emissions.
Ms. Bojariu, there is a controversy related to global warming, on one hand, and to global cooling, on the other hand. Which is actually the reality?
Obviously, we are already experiencing the effects of global warming. Since 1880 and until these days, the average global temperature increased by 0.85 Celsius degrees. The average temperature in Europe increased even more, by almost 1 Celsius degree, and the most obvious increasing tendency was registered during the last decades, according to the latest report by the Inter-Government Group for the Study of Climatic Change, published in 2013. In the top 15 warmest years, according to reports available since the second half of the nineteenth century, fourteen were registered in the 21st century. The years 2014, 2010, 2005 and 1998 were the warmest years of this period, but we must mention that, in the case of the year 1998, the influence of the warm phase of ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation, editor’s note) was important in establishing the record. The year 2014 did not beneficit of the contribution of a warm phase by ENSO. It was not just the temperature of the air at the surface of the earth that increased, but observations also suggest a warming of the entire troposphere (the most consistent layer of the atmosphere, as far as the mass was concerned, and the place most weather and climate phenomena are produced), starting with the second half of the twentieth century. At the same time, the frequency and intensity of noticed extreme phenomena increased starting with 1950. The frequency of heat waves increased in most parts of Europe, Asia and Australia. More and more rainfalls were registered in several continental regions, especially in Northern America and Europe. It is not just the troposphere that is warming up, but also the planetary ocean, as far as observations show. More than 90 per cent of the energy retained in the system due to the increase in greenhouse effect, starting in 1971 and until 2010, was stored in the planetary ocean. The cryosphere was and continues being affected by the global warming as well. The ice coating of Greenland and of the Western Atlantic diminished, and the area covered by marine ice in the Arctic region has a massive tendency of decrease. The continental season snow layer was reduced, especially in the months of spring. The level of the planetary ocean increased by 19 cm during 1901 – 2010.
What percentage of the negative climate changes we are witnessing and looking forward to in the future is caused by pollution and how much of it is caused by factors that do not depend of humans, such as the solar activity and the inversion of the magnetic poles of the Earth?
The inversion of the magnetic poles of the Earth has no direct and measurable influence upon the present climate system. The studies based on data and observations – given the fact that now we can measure solar radiation from the space as well, using gadgets placed on satellites – and results of numeric experiments show an effect of solar activity variability, on the scale of decades and of the century, that is ten times lower than the impact of increase in the concentration of greenhouse effect gas. The latest report issued by the Inter-Government group for studying the climate change, published in 2013, estimates that there is a 95 per cent probability that most of the increase in average global temperature during the last 5 – 6 decades is caused by human activity that increases the concentration of greenhouse effect causing gas. These types of gas let direct solar radiation pass, but absorb the long wave radiation issued by the warmed surface of the Earth and, on their turn, reissue long wave radiations, reducing losses of energy in the geosystem and thus contributing to global warming.
In the perspective of the 21st Conference of parties to the frame convention of UNO on the issue of climate changes, the European Union has announced three objectives: the diminshing of greenhouse effect gas emissions by at least 40 per cent; the increase in the use of renewable energy, so that it would reach 27 per cent of the energy mix, and an improvement in our country’s energetic efficiency by 27 per cent. Romania is forced to intensify efforts for the reduction of greenhouse effect gas emissions in order to reach the target of reducing them by 40 per cent until 2030. What would all of these require from behalf of Romania, what are we supposed to do?
Of all targets you mentioned, the easiest to accomplish is the one referring to the increase in the share of renewable energy. Romania, naturally, has access to a relatively balanced energy mix, with a significant potential to use renewable energy. It made huge steps in this direction already; the only thing left is the need of a constant and coherent evolution; and political decision makers are the responsible ones here. Bigger issues are the ones caused by the remaining objectives, that require consistent and coherent efforts in order to cut Romania’s economical development off carbon. Making intelligent and solid investments in order to update the national energy producing industry, that could face these ambitious objectives, is a necessary condition – the energy department is one of the greatest greenhouse effect gas producers. Obviously, the rest of the economical fields, such as transportation, industry, agriculture, will need to be developed based on modern technologies, so that there influence in the greenhouse effect gas emissions would decrease substantially. Such a national level effort should be seen as an integrating one made by local communities and even by each citizen on his own. Especially when it comes to saving water and energy, each of us can contribute to this process of reducing greenhouse effect gas emissions.
In your opinion – given the fact that you are a specialist working in Meteorology – how prepared is Romania as far as personnel and equipment are concerned to develop research projects in the field of climate changes, at the level required by international forums?
As far as climate research is concerned, Romania is still in unison with Europe and the rest of the world. Actually, Romanian researchers have attended as lead authors and referents the issuing of the latest two reports by the Inter-Government Group for the Study of Climate Changes, published in 2007 and 2013. Yet, it is not easy to keep up with the evolution of science in Europe and all over the world under the situation that, on national level, political decision makers decide to decrease again and again funds destined to competitions for scientifical projects, and the Romanian academic environment is undermined by scandals, such as the ones caused by plagiarism, but others as well – that generate a loss in trustworthiness and cast away talented young people interested to pursue serious and predictable scientific careers. It is true that there are European competitions of projects, that provide opportunities to Romanian researchers and some of them even grab these opportunities; but these sources cannot replace completely the national financing, even if one considers the fact that there are specific research areas, such as the studies required for the adaptation to climate changes in Romania.