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Jessica Robertson: Welcome to USGS Climate Connections in Washington, D.C. Iím your host, Jessica Robertson. Weíre here at H.D. Woodson High School to see what questions the students have about climate change and then get answers from USGS scientists. Letís go inside and meet the students.
Jamaal Jones: Hi, my name is Jamaal. Iím a student at H.D. Woodson. If you could tell the public one thing about climate change, what would it be?
Marcia McNutt: Wow, Jamaal, great question. What everyone needs to know about climate change is that itís our children and our grandchildren, many yet unborn, who are going to pay the price for climate change. And as a mother, just as I love my children, I want to provide for them and keep them safe from harm. I am fighting climate change so that they will inherit a planet that will sustain them long after Iím gone.
Mickay Thompson: My name is Mickay Thompson and Iím a tenth-grader at H.D. Woodson. Does global warming affect humans or animals more?
Marielle Peschiera: Hello Mickay, my name is Marielle Peschiera and I am a biologist at the USGS. It is difficult to answer whether humans or animals will be more impacted, but you raise a good point in that we need to focus on both, as both of them could be affected. As an example, some parts of the world will experience increased droughts. This could affect water availability for drinking or even for growing healthy crops. It could also impact fish, ducks and other water dependent organisms. While some parts of the world will experience higher droughts, others will experience higher precipitation. This precipitation will increase landslides and flooding. This could impact people, houses, and businesses. More precipitation could also increase sediment and nutrient runoff to rivers, streams, and coasts, which will impact water quality and organisms that live there. Like these, there are many other examples where you can see climate change will impact both humans and animals. I hope I answered your question.
Pashur Quarles: Hi, my nameís Pashur Quarles, a ninth-grade student at H.D. Woodson. And my question is: How will climate change affect D.C.?
Hilary Stockdon: Hi Pashur, Iím Hilary Stockdon, an oceanographer at the USGS. The impacts of climate change on Washington, D.C. will be wide ranging. One of the more obvious is rising water levels. As the climate warms and ice sheets and glaciers start to melt, sea levels will rise. This means that the water levels in the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers will also rise. The National Mall is an example of a low-lying area that could be inundated. The Metro, roads, utilities, and other infrastructure around the district could also be affected.
Now, D.C. is famous for its annual cherry blossom festival. Weíre already starting to see the cherry trees blooming earlier. Warming temperatures affect the life cycle of plants, and this in turn could change things such as when allergy season begins. Hotter days could also lead to more heat-related illnesses, and that's something to look out for. These are just a few examples of how Washington, D.C. might be affected by climate change.
Precious Gray: Hi, my name is Precious Gray, and I am a H.D. Woodson student. When did global climate change begin?
Christopher Bernhardt: Thatís an interesting and complex question, Precious. Iím Chris Bernhardt, a research geologist at the USGS. When we look at the geological record, we see that the Earthís climate has been changing for billions of years. The Earthís climate has moved between periods of extreme warmth and extreme cold. For example, over 700 million years ago during a time called "snowball earth," much of the Earth's surface was covered with ice. An example of extreme warmth is during the age of the dinosaurs.
These changes in climate are due to factors such as how close the Earth is to the sun and the amount of solar radiation it receives, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and other factors. Regardless, climate variability and change is part of the natural system. However, it can be combined with and accelerated by humans, which researchers have noticed happening over the past 50 to 60 years. It is important to understand the impacts and causes of past climate variability to further understand what may happen in the future.
Jessica Robertson: Thatís it for this episode of USGS Climate Connections in Washington, D.C. A special thanks to all the students at H.D. Woodson for participating. Thanks for joining us, and weíll see you again next time.
Title: Climate Connections: Questions from Washington, DC
America has questions about climate change, and the USGS has real answers. In this episode of Climate Connections, USGS scientists answer questions gathered from students at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, DC. Questions include:
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Date Taken: 8/13/2012
Video Producer: Jessica Robertson , U.S. Geological Survey
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