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The Physics of Climate Change

4. Future Potential Impacts

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In this mini-lecture, we explore what might happen in the future due to climate change and what we can do about it. As we move through this mini-lecture, we consider: (i) the percentages of greenhouse gas emissions by gas and the percentages of greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector; (ii) predictions on future greenhouse gas emissions considering various factors, a study done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); (iii) the worst scenario predicted by the IPCC in which we see a more than 3ºC increase from pre-industrial times to 2100; (iv) the best scenario predicted by the IPCC in which we see about a 1.6ºC increase from pre-industrial times to 2100; (v) predictions for global sea level rise; (vi) the predicted response in temperature and precipitation for the best and worst scenarios simulated by the IPCC; (v) the impact of a two metre sea level rise, which would leave much of the Netherlands and some parts of the UK underwater, as well as many other cities around the world; (vi) the impacts of climate change in Europe, including a decrease in rainfall, increase in forest fires and vector-borne diseases, increase in river and coastal flooding, etc.; and (vii) a summary of estimations of the global impacts of climate change by 2100 based on the worst case scenario developed by the IPCC.


In this course, Professor Joanna Haigh (Imperial College London) discusses the physics behind climate change. In the first mini-lecture, we explore the Earth’s energy balance, the physical processes in the Earth’s atmosphere that have contributed to global warming, and other factors that cause climate to change. In the second mini-lecture, we discuss how atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed over various time scales and introduce some physics that help us study the climate and predict its future. The third mini-lecture considers more factors that have influenced climate and their current impacts on temperature, ice, and sea level. The fourth mini-lecture discusses the future potential impacts of climate change and outlines two models that predict the best and worst case scenarios of climate change from now until 2021. In the fifth mini-lecture, we introduce some of the international organisations and agreements that have been made in response to climate change. In the sixth mini-lecture, we consider percentages of emissions per country and per person per country, as well as emissions by source, and discuss future conferences and policies.


Joanna Haigh is an Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London. She was the head of the Department of Physics from 2009 to 2014 and Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College from 2014 until her retirement in 2019. Her research interests include radiative transfer in the atmosphere, climate modelling, radiative forcing of climate change, and the influence of solar irradiance variability on climate. Professor Haigh has served as editor of the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences and was a lead author on the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). From 2012-2014, she served as the president of the Royal Meteorological Society. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IOP) and was awarded the Charles III Medal and Prize from the IoP in 2004. In 2010, she received the Royal Meteorological Society Adrian Gill Prize for her work on solar variability. In the 2013 New Year Honours, she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to physics and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society that same year.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Haigh, J. (2022, January 12). The Physics of Climate Change - Future Potential Impacts [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Haigh, Joanna. "The Physics of Climate Change – Future Potential Impacts." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Jan 2022,

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