Climate is defined as average weather over a longer time scales. Variations in weather greatly affect our everyday lives, while climate is often expected to be stationary. Climate is, however, changing and this can significantly affect the natural environment around us and human activities such as water resources and agriculture. We know from e.g. the geographical, geological, glaciological and paleobiological record that major changes in climate occur naturally. It is, for example, only about 10 000 years since the last ice-age. It is of great scientific and practical significance to understand the natural changes in the climate, not least in order to avoid future problems caused by coming changes. In addition human activities are inducing changes in the climate, primarily the use of fossil energy fuels and deforestation.
This implies that we should alter some of the human activities, but what actions should be taken, and what will be the impact of future changes in climate? It is not entirely clear what is the relative importance of natural and human induced changes to the climate.
Many activities in Earth Sciences relate to climate issues, from meteorological models of the atmosphere to studies of the biological impact of earlier climate changes observed in the fossil record, and from studies of glacier dynamics to volcano-stimulated climate effects. Furthermore, areas of Earth Sciences not specifically directed at climate studies are potentially of great relevance for our possibilities to limit climate change and its impact on mankind and the natural environment. Examples include energy resources and the future of fossil fuels, extreme weather events such as floods, analysis of processes in the carbon cycle, effective use of water for agriculture, and biological changes in the sea (e.g. coral) which may be related to temperature changes.
Within Sweden, the competence collected within the Department of Earth Sciences in Uppsala is uniquely broad, encompassing meteorology, glaciology, hydrology, physical geography, quaternary geology and much more, and is further enhanced by contacts with Uppsala’s Centre for Sustainable Development, which is housed in the same building. The resulting dynamic multi-disciplinary research and teaching environment stimulates new and exciting areas of study.