Pontus Lurcock and Fabio Florindo
Antarctic climate changes have been reconstructed from ice and sediment cores and numerical models (which also predict future changes). Major ice sheets first appeared 34 million years ago (Ma) and fluctuated throughout the Oligocene, with an overall cooling trend. Ice volume more than doubled at the Oligocene-Miocene boundary. Fluctuating Miocene temperatures peaked at 17–14 Ma, followed by dramatic cooling. Cooling continued through the Pliocene and Pleistocene, with another major glacial expansion at 3–2 Ma. Several interacting drivers control Antarctic climate. On timescales of 10,000–100,000 years, insolation varies with orbital cycles, causing periodic climate variations. Opening of Southern Ocean gateways produced a circumpolar current that thermally isolated Antarctica. Declining atmospheric CO2 triggered Cenozoic glaciation. Antarctic glaciations affect global climate by lowering sea level, intensifying atmospheric circulation, and increasing planetary albedo. Ice sheets interact with ocean water, forming water masses that play a key role in global ocean circulation.
This work reports on the main physical processes that arise in the environment of the megacity from the “urban metabolism”—the complex interactions of the climate with the activities performed in the city and its built structure and texture—as well as on associated large-scale processes that generate hazards for the megacity’s inhabitants. It is estimated that in a few decades most of the world’s population will live in urban centers. Both the growth of megacities and climate change will increase the vulnerability of huge sectors of the population to climatic consequences of the urban metabolism. These include urban heat islands, pollution, and extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods. Developing policies to mitigate these threats will require integrating scientific knowledge with management skills, communication among cities about effective approaches, and taking into account residents’ needs for health and the capacity to live safely.