Chapter 19 Reading Quiz Concepts
Terms in this set (42)
Polar Bears relationship with global warming
Global warming -> polar ice cap melting 3 weeks earlier -> habitat loss and shorter seal hunting time -> polar bears weigh less and possible extinction -> seal population increase, Arctic fox population decrease (no longer carcasses), and loss of food and clothing by indigenous people
Global change vs global climate change vs. global warming
Global change - a wide variety of factors (chemical, biological and physical) that change over time
Global climate change
changes in the climate of Earth - the average weather that occurs in an area over a period of years or decades
changes in the temperature (warming) in an area - oceans, landmasses, and atmosphere of Earth
The Sun-Earth energy/heating system and the Greenhouse Effect
1. Sun emits solar radiation towards Earth in the form of UV and visible light
2. About one-third of this solar radiation is reflected - from the atmosphere, clouds, and the surface of the planet - back into space
3. The remaining radiation is absorbed by the clouds and the surface of the planet.
4. Both become warmer and then emit infrared radiation
Then, the Greenhouse Effect occurs.
The Greenhouse Effect (second part of Sun-Earth energy/heating system)
1. Much of this emitted infrared radiation from Earth is absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The remainder is emitted into space.
2. As the greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation, they warm and emit infrared radiation, with much of it going back toward Earth. The greater the concentration of greenhouse gases, the more infrared radiation is absorbed and emitted back toward Earth.
Greenhouse warming potential
estimate of how much a molecule of a gas compound can contribute to global warming over a period of 100 years relative to a molecule of C02
Based on 1. how much infrared energy a given gas can absorb 2. how long a molecule of the gas can persist in the atmosphere, and 3. the concentration of that gas in the atmosphere
Major Greenhouse gasses (C = Concentration in 2010, GWP = Global Warming Potential (over 100 years), D = Duration in the atmosphere) - Water Vapor
Water Vapor: C = Variable with temperature, GWP = <1, D = 9 days
Major Greenhouse gasses - Carbon Dioxide
C = 390 ppm, GWP = 1, D = Highly variable (ranging from years to hundreds of years)
Major Greenhouse gasses - Methane
C = 1.8 ppm, GWP = 25, D = 12 years
Major Greenhouse gasses - Nitrous oxide
C = 0.3 ppm, GWP = 300, D = 114 years
Major Greenhouse gasses - Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
C = 0.9 ppm, GWP = 1,600 to 13,000, D = 55 to > 500 years
Natural Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - Volcanoes
add Carbon Dioxide, ash can reflect solar radiation with ash-> cooling Earth
Natural Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - anaerobic digestion/decomposition (methane)
not enough oxygen available to produce carbon dioxide -> methane produced, occurs when certain animals digest plant matter (termites -> require gut bacteria to digest, bacteria don't have enough access to oxygen -> methane production)
Natural Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - nitrogen cycle (N2O)
N2O (nitrous oxide) produced through the process of denitrification - occurs in the low-oxygen environments of wet soils and at the bottoms of wetlands, lakes, and oceans, nitrates -> nitrous oxide
Natural Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - water cycle (water vapor)
produced from evaporation of water from land and water bodies, also from evapotranspiration process of plants, amount of vapor varies based on climate/region
Anthropogenic Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - Burning Fossil Fuels
Produces CO2 into air
Coal - most, oil - 85% as coal, natural gas - 56%
Also produces particulate matter - may be responsible for 25% of global warming because it lowers albedo
Anthropogenic Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - Agricultural practices
Flooding (rice) -> methane and nitrous oxide
Synthetic fertilizers, manures, and crops that naturally fix atmospheric nitrogen (alfalfa) -> excess of nitrates in soil -> nitrous oxide (through denitrification)
Anthropogenic Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - Deforestation
increase in atmospheric CO2 by combustion or decomposition, shifting agriculture -> carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide
Anthropogenic Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - Landfills
create low-oxygen environment in which decomposition of household waste -> methane as by-product
Anthropogenic Sources of Greenhouse Gasses - Industrial CFCs
refrigerants in air conditioners, freezers, and refrigerators, now are hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that have very high greenhouse warming potentials as well (phased out by 2030)
Link between CO2 concentrations and global temperatures (since 1880 and over past 400,000 years). Recent
1880 - annual mean temperatures vary from year to year, but temperatures have exhibited a slow increase from 1880 to today (increase by 0.8C and 1.4F)
400,000 years - For more than 400,000 years CO2 concentrations never exceeded 300 ppm. After 1950, CO2 concentrations have sharply increased to their current level of 390 ppm.
Developed vs Developing world emissions
Developed (20% of developed world, 1 billion people) - used to produce about 75% of the carbon dioxide
In 2009 developing countries surpassed developed countries in the production of CO2
Climate models and future conditions
Approximate real-world process by applying it to a time in the past for which we have accurate data on conditions, such as air and ocean temperatures, CO2 concentration, extent of vegetation, and sea ice coverage at poles.
General agreement that average global temperatures will rise by 1.8C - 4C by the year 2100 depending on whether CO2 emissions experience slow, moderate, or high growth over time
Higher temperatures lead to faster decomposition -> Faster decomposition boosts the rate at which CO2 is added to the atmosphere -> Higher levels of CO2 promote higher temperatures
Tundra biomes: increase in CO2 emissions -> Arctic regions become substantially warmer and ice melts -> standing water developes with little oxygen available under the water as the thick organic layers of the tundra begin to decompose -> organic material experiences anaerobic decomposition -> methane (stronger greenhouse gas than CO2!) -> global warming
Increased atmospheric CO2 increases plant growth -> increased plant growth increases uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere, thereby decreasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere
Limitation of feedbacks
Soil-Carbon feedback is limited by amount of carbon in soils, eventually soil stocks will become so low that biological activity falls back to earlier rates, enhanced CO2 uptake by plants is also limited (only some benefit from extra CO2 and fertilization, often growth only enhance until another factor becomes limiting (water or nutrients)
Magnitude and direction of feedback are also complex, water vapor has both positive and negative feedbacks and there are limits to each
Positive: Temperature increase -> increased evaporation --> further warming (greenhouse gas) (HOWEVER there is a limit to the amount of water vapor that can exist in the air) ->
Negative: air can become saturated with water vapor (amount of saturation changes with temperature): increased water vapor in atmosphere -> formation of clouds -> shields surface of Earth from solar radiation
Global warming effects on - polar Ice Caps
Warming of 4-7C in future, large openings in sea ice expand and ecosystems will be negatively affected. Possibility of new shipping lanes and discovery of oil and natural gas (more combustion/GGs PFL!). Melting ice and reduction of polar ice caps could also cause sea levels to rise.
Global warming effects on - Glaciers
Loss of glaciers -> aesthetic loss (Glacier National Park), loss of spring water source and reliable water supply (melt in spring, grow back in winter)
Global warming effects on - Permafrost
Permafrost melting -> overlying lakes become smaller as lake water drains deeper into ground -> can also lead to problems with human-built structures anchored onto permafrost - houses and oil pipelines -> decomposition of organic matter (under low-oxygen conditions) -> methane -> increased global warming (PFL)
Global warming effects on - Sea Levels
1. Water from melting glaciers and ice sheets of land, 2. Warmer ocean water -> expansion in volume, sea levels could rise 7-23 inches above 1999 levels -> endanger coastal cities and low-lying island nations, saltwater intrusion into aquifers, increased soil erosion, countries with less wealth are not able to build up shorelines with dikes
Global warming effects on - Heat Waves
Long periods of hot weather likely to become more frequent -> increased energy demand -> greater risk of death among elderly -> damage to crops, greater amounts of irrigation needs -> higher cost of food production
Global warming effects on - Cold Spells
Fewer extremely cold days -> fewer deaths due to colder temperatures and decreased in the risk of crop damage, new areas available for farming, decrease energy needed to heat building in the winter. Also cause pest species such as the hemlock wooly adelgid to expand their range which could lead to greater deaths of hemlock trees
Global warming effects on - Precipitation Patterns
Altering of precipitation patterns due to increased evaporation, regions with more precipitation would benefit due to recharge in aquifer ands better crops yields but could also experience flooding, landslides, and soil erosion. Other regions expected to receive less precipitation -> difficult crop growth and greater efforts needed to supply water
Global warming effects on - Storm Intensity
Increased intensity of storms (such as Katrina and Rita), hurricanes more common further north (cities such as NY, Miami, and Tampa are also at risk)
(Normal) thermohaline circulation
Warm water moves from Gulf of Mexico towards Greenland, where it becomes colder and saltier and sinks to the ocean floor. Sinking water mixes with the deep waters of the ocean basin, and eventually resurfaces near the equator, were it makes its way back to the Guld of Mexico. This circulating water moves the warm water from the Gulf of Mexico towards Europe and moves cold water from the North Atlantic down to the equator.
Global warming effects on - Ocean Currents
Shifting global ocean current due to greater release of fresh water from melting ice, distribution of heat could be disrupted as well as thermohaline circulation - increased melting from Greenland and the northern polar ice cap -> dilution of salty ocean water -> stop water from sinking near Greenland -> shut off the thermohaline circulation.
Global warming effects to Living Organisms: Wild Plants and Animals, Humans
altered timing of plant flowering/growing season (Pied flycatchers and caterpillars, corals and "bleaching"), range/ability to disperse, biodiversity; less habitation (coastal areas), degraded human health (heat waves, increase in disease vectors' geographic range, infectious disease/bacterial/fungal illnesses wider spread), economy (lower heating bill vs. less tourism)
Climate change as a controversy
Agreement - greenhouse gas concentrations are rising and this will lead to global warming. Unclear exactly by how much world temperatures will increase for a given change in greenhouse gases, because that depends upon the various feedbacks.
2007 - IPCC attempted to address some of the uncertainty by listing the likelihood that various types of climate changes are already occurring, the likelihood that humans contributed to these changes, and the likelihood that these trends will continue through the 21st century.
1997 international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emission in developed/industrialized countries to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 (uses precautionary principle and reduces emissions [fuel efficiency, fossil fuel alternatives] and removes gases from atmosphere [biomass and pumping])
Second option of Kyoto protocol - an approach that involves taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Methods including storing carbon in agricultural soils or retiring agricultural land and allowing it to become pasture or forest, either of which would return atmospheric carbon to longer-term storage in the form of plant biomass and soil carbon. Also working on cost-effecive ways of capturing CO2 from the air, from coal-burning power stations and from other emission sources. This captured CO2 is then compressed and pumped into abandoned oil wells or the deep ocean (through oil rigs). However, these technologies are still being developed and so their economic feasibility and potential environmental impacts are not yet known.
How the U.S. has responded even though they did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol
2005: General Electric reduces emissions/does green research
2006: Schwarzenegger signs California Global Warming Solutions Act
2009: 1,000 city mayors in CA sign the U.S. Congress of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement
Summary: local response to Kyoto Protocol (even though has not yet been ratified in U.S.) creates jobs and improves economy in addition to the environment
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