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Some Simple Physics of Global Warming Jeff Tsao Physical, Chemical and Nano Sciences Center Sandia National Laboratories

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Some simple physics of global warming l.jpg

Some Simple Physics of Global Warming

Jeff Tsao

Physical, Chemical and Nano Sciences Center

Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy’s National Security Administration under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.


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Controversy, complexity, and uncertainty

http://www.ipcc.ch/


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Topics

  • The Earth's Delicate Heat Balance

  • Earth’s Temperature History

  • The Earth's Sluggish Carbon Balance

  • Humanity's Appetite for Energy and Carbon

  • What Can We Do?


Earth s delicate heat balance l.jpg

Earth’s Delicate Heat Balance


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Simple calculation of the earth’s temperature

Power radiating from the earth

Fraction of power that intercepts the earth

Power radiating from the sun

Stefan’s Law

Predicted

(Stockholm)

Actual

(Albuquerque)


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H2O: Ice, Clouds, Water Vapor

Reflection from clouds

Reflection from the surface (including ice and snow)

Emission by clouds

Absorption by water vapor

Absorption by clouds

http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect


Greenhouse gases l.jpg

Greenhouse gases

% of earth’s

atmosphere

1

0.04

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect

20.9

Oxygen

78

Nitrogen


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Earth’s Temperature History


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The 450,000-year temperature history

18

16

14

12

10

Approximate average earth temperature (°C)

8

6

4

2

Adapted from http://www.seed.slb.com/en/scictr/watch/climate_change/change.htm


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The 1,000-year temperature and CO2 history

The evaporation rate of the rare, heavy 18O isotope of H2O is slower than that of the common, light 16O isotope of H2O, and depends on temperature

http://www.nasa.gov/lb/worldbook/wbkids/k_evaporation.html

(ppm)

(°F)

Adapted from http://www.koshland-science-museum.org/exhibitgcc/images/historical03.gif

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/about-collage.html)


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Earth’s Sluggish Carbon Balance


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Earth’s carbon sources and sinks

Pre-1900’s: Cbiosph = cdeep-ocean

1900’s-2000’s: Cbiosph > cdeep-ocean

Post-2000’s?: Cbiosph > cdeep-ocean

Post-2100’s?: Cbiosph = cdeep-ocean

janthro

cbiosph

τ ~ 100 years

Cdeep-ocean

IPCC4 Figure 7.3


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The earth’s response to C emission scenarios

http://cisac.stanford.edu/news/bps_chief_scientist_discusses_secure_sustainable_energy_in_drell_lecture_20080205/


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Humanity’s Appetitefor Energy and Carbon


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The “IPAT” Relationship

13.5 TW

43 TW

Ė (1012 W)

Impact = Affluence · Population · Technology

Ė = (GDP/N) · N · (Ė/GDP)

0.45 W/($/yr)

0.15 W/($/yr)

Energy Consump-

tion Rate

per capita Gross Domestic Product

Energy Intensity

Popu-lation

25,000 US$

5,000 US$

Adapted from M.I. Hoffert, K. Caldeira, A.K. Jain, E.F. Haites, L.D.D. Harvey, S.D. Potter, M.E. Schlesinger, S.H. Schneider, R.G. Watts, T.M.L. Wigley, and D.J. Wuebbles, "Energy implications of future stabilization of atmospheric CO2 content," Nature 395, 881-884 (Oct 1998)

11 Bper

6.1 Bper


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The sluggish decrease in carbon intensity

http://www.undp.org/energy/activities/wea/index.html

0.49 GtC/(TW-yr)

Adapted from M.I. Hoffert, K. Caldeira, A.K. Jain, E.F. Haites, L.D.D. Harvey, S.D. Potter, M.E. Schlesinger, S.H. Schneider, R.G. Watts, T.M.L. Wigley, and D.J. Wuebbles, "Energy implications of future stabilization of atmospheric CO2 content," Nature 395, 881-884 (Oct 1998)

0.3 GtC/(TW-yr)


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What can we do?

  • Plan A: Sequester the Carbon

  • Plan B: Switch to Non-Fossil Fuels

    • E.g., there is plenty of solar (an area the size of Venezuela could power the world)

    • But not economical yet, so need R&D and carbon tax

    • But a carbon tax could be a drag on GDP, unless it substitutes for income tax

  • Plan C: Climate Engineering

    • Global gardening, atmospheric water/ice nucleation, earth albedo manipulation, …

  • Plan D: Adapt to global warming

    • Developed nations are the cause, but undeveloped countries are least able to afford to adapt

    • What is the cost of adapting, and who should pay?


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