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What an Increase in Temperature is doing to Earth www.noaanews.noaa.gov By Hilary Heyison
The Greenhouse Effect • Greenhouse gases are key factors in global warming. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur, and chlorofluorocarbons. • Greenhouse Effect: • Solar radiation passes through the atmosphere; some is reflected and some is absorbed by surface materials. • This short wave radiation that is absorbed, heats up the earth’s surface and is converted into long wave radiation (infrared). Infrared energy radiating from the heated surface can not escape into space (to cool off the planet) as heat trapping or “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere absorb these wavelengths of energy • When there are too many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the earth’s average surface temperature increases. http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/kids/greenhouse.html
What is Climate Change? • Climate change is when the earth’s global climate changes over time. • Climate change refers to changes in the average surface temperature increasing (global warming ) or decreasing which then causes a long term change in weather. • Global warming causes an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s oceans and atmosphere. • The increase in temperature can be caused by human beings or it can be caused naturally by a change in ocean currents, plate tectonics, and the sun. The earth’s temperature can also be changed by volcanic eruptions, with short and long term impacts.
What are Fossil Fuels? • Energy (hydrogen) from living organisms that thrived on Earth when the dinosaurs were alive - when Earth was warmer, wetter, and hotter. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere back then were 4-7 x higher than today. (We are recreating that atmosphere. ) • Plants and marine organisms that thrived in hot environments made fuel for themselves from the high levels of carbon in the atmosphere (photosynthesis). When they died hundreds of millions of years ago in swampy (low oxygen) environments, that carbon got stored (locked up) in the ground and was changed over the eons into reservoirs of carbon and hydrogen (since all living things are made from these elements). These “hydrocarbon “reservoirs are coal, natural gas, and oil. • When hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) are combusted, carbon is emitted as a by-product and released back into the atmosphere. • Year by year more and more of this “stored” carbon from the Mesozoic era is being put back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Robert A. Rohde
What are Fossil Fuels Doing to Earth? • Since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1850s, fossil fuel use in the world has risen. • From then to 2006, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from 280 ppm to 380 ppm, a dramatic rise that likely hasn’t happened in 20-50 my • 100 ppm is the difference between an ice age and the unusually stable, agriculturally-friendly climate modern humans have enjoyed for 10,000 years. (Earth (and our ancestors) were in the depths of an ice age when carbon dioxide levels were at 180 ppm, as can be seen in this graph). • Scientists project that over the next 100 years, CO2 levels could reach 600-900 ppm, depending on our choices and use of fossil fuels. We would be approaching the type of climate that reptiles enjoyed during the Mesozoic (the Age of Reptiles). • As the world uses more and more fossil fuels, the earth’s average temperature will continue to increases. Robert A. Rohde
An Increase In Temperature Will Change Our Planet • It would bring rapid changes to Earth than living things today have never experienced and would have little time to adapt to. • There would be an increase sea level, in drought, extreme weather like hurricanes and storms, forest fires, heat stress, water shortages in some places, flooding in others, animal and human death, and crop damage. Humans have no experience in this type of world. Most are poor. • Scientists predict dramatic and catastrophic changes to Earth and human populations if carbon dioxide levels areallowed to increase at the current or accelerated rates.
Heat Waves • Average surface temperature increases cause problems for humans, plants, and animals through heat waves. • A heat wave is a prolonged period of very hot weather that lasts for at least three days and where the temperature is 30 degrees C. or higher. • In the last 150 years, the mean global annual surface temperature of Earth has increased by .3 - .6 C, even to melt glaciers and disrupt weather patterns around the world. In the next 100 years, scientists predict surface temperature will increase between 1.5-4 degrees Celsius (4-9 degrees Farenheit). The next century will witness unprecedented climate changes. • Scientists have been measuring the temperature through instruments that measure the magnitude and pattern change of temperature. These models correspond with the models predicted about greenhouse gas increase. • More heat waves are a direct result of an increase in greenhouse gases.
What Will Happen to People and Animals if the Temperature Continues to Rise? • When the temperature rises, there is a higher chance of diseases being transmitted through insects. • One disease that was spread throughout the United States and Canada because of heat increase was the West Nile virus. Insect habitats change during temperature swings. Insects then move to other places where they usually do not live during a certain season. • Other animals such as rats might change their habitats in hot weather and can cause the spread of diseases. This is how the disease Hantavirus is transmitted. : www.ext.vt.edu/.../ factsheets/mosquito.html
Droughts • Heat waves can cause droughts. As a result, water levels decrease, lowering water quality and increasing the opportunity for disease transmission. • Heat waves also increase health problems in humans.
Our World by 2010 • Average surface temperature will increase. • Sea level will rise from melting ice around the world. This could be as much as a meter, or much more if melting accelerates or destabilizes major ice sheets (there is unexpected and recent evidence of Greenland and West Antarctica becoming destabilized.) Melting or destabilization of either could raise sea level world-wide by 25 feet. • Deaths will increase as a result of heat waves, drought, and flooding • Increase in the average surface air temperature from 2.5 –4 degrees C. Humans have never experienced such dramatic changes, not even during the ice ages.
Quiz • What are three greenhouse gases? • What is climate change? • What is global warming? • What are fossil fuels? • What are three results of an increase in temperature? • What is a heat wave? • Carbon dioxide concentrations have increased to date by how many ppm’s ?
Quiz continued… • What are two diseases that could progress because of a rise in temperature? (hint: both these diseases are caused by animals and bugs) • What happens to water quality when a drought occurs?
Time for a Change • It takes time to lower concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so we must begin now. • Individual and collective action – communities, states, nations, businesses and government – are needed • Learn about your and “our” “carbon” footprint and how to reduce it by wasting less energy and pushing for solutions that would reduce carbon emissions per unit of energy used • The less fossil fuels used, the better.
Bibliography • Heat Waves and Unusually Warm Weather. 8/10/05. Union of Concerned Science. 12/23/05. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/early-warning- signs-of-global-warming-heat-waves.html • Consequences of Global Warming. 1/3/06. Natural Defense Resource Council. 12/23/05. http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/fcons.asp • BBC News. 8/12/04. 12/23/05. http://news.bbc.com.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3559426.stm • The Impact of Global Warming in North America. 1998. Global Warming: Early Warning Signs. 12/23/05. http://www.climatehotmap.org/namerica.html • Climate Change. 10/16/04. Wikipedia the Free Enclopedia. 12/12/05. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change
Bibliography Continued… • Greenhouse Effect. 7/12/04. EPA. 12/12/05. http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/kids/greenhouse.html • IPCC Third Assessment Report-Climate Change 2001. 12/1205. I ntergovernmental Panel on Climate Control. 12/23/05. http://www.ipcc.ch/ • Global Warming. 12/13/04. New Scientists. 12/23/05. • http://www.newsscientist.com/channel/earth/cllimate-change/ • Climate Change and Our Health. 10/05/05. Government of Canada. 12/23/05. http://climatechange.gc.ca/english/affect/health.asp • Science News. 7/03/04. Global Warming. 12/23/05 • http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=660965091&sid=5&Fmt=4&clientld=6785%RQT=309%VName=PQD • Mosquito.8/1996. Virginia Tech. 6/6/06/. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.ext.vt.edu/departments/entomology/images/mosquito.cmp&imgrefurl=http://www.ext.vt.edu/departments/entomology/factsheets/mosquito.html&h=202&w=206&sz=7&hl=en&start=20&tbnid=i6EFgNqdoIj3NM:&tbnh=98&tbnw=100&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmosquito%26ndsp%3D21%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DN