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Atmosphere and Climate Issues. Global Warming, The Ozone Hole, and Air Pollution. The Atmosphere. The layers of the atmosphere are divided based on the temperature difference at each level. The Atmosphere.

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atmosphere and climate issues

Atmosphere and Climate Issues

Global Warming, The Ozone Hole, and Air Pollution

the atmosphere
The Atmosphere

The layers of the atmosphere are divided based on the temperature difference at each level.

the atmosphere1
The Atmosphere

Note that the troposphere contains 90% of the gases in the atmosphere and is where weather occurs.

The troposphere also has the highest air pressure – it’s like being at the bottom of an ocean of air!

This is the layer that we live in!

  • Weather is what happens in the atmosphere at a particular place at a particular time.
  • Three factors that create weather include:
    • The sun
    • Air
    • Water

  • The study of weather includes the following topics …
    • Precipitation
    • Cloud Formation
    • Air Pressure
    • Air Masses & Fronts
    • Weather Events such as hurricanes and tornados!

  • Climate is the average weather in an area over a long period of time.
  • The climate of an area is important because it determines the type of organisms that can live there.
  • Four basic factors that describe climate include …
    • Temperature
    • Humidity
    • Wind
    • Precipitation

  • Four factors that determine the climate of a particular area are …
    • Latitude
    • Air Circulation
    • Ocean Currents
    • Local Geography

factors affecting climate latitude
Factors Affecting Climate - Latitude

Latitude is the most important factor that determines climate. In general, the closer to either pole a location is, the cooler it will be. This is due to the diffusion of the sun’s rays at higher latitudes. The equatorial regions receive the most intense solar radiation and are generally always warm.

factors affecting climate global surface winds
Factors Affecting Climate – Global Surface Winds

Global surface winds determine where different types of air masses are moved, thus determining the climate of an area.

factors affecting climate location of deserts
Factors Affecting Climate – Location of Deserts

Deserts are usually found around 30 degrees North or South latitude. Warm, humid air rises at the equator, cools, drops its precipitation, and then the cooled dry air sinks at these latitudes, creating deserts.

factors affecting climate ocean currents
Factors Affecting Climate – Ocean Currents

Currents balance the temperature of Earth’s oceans. They also affect the climate of large areas of land: Cold currents cool western coastlines whereas warm currents warm eastern coastlines.

factors affecting climate local geography
Factors Affecting Climate – Local Geography

Mt. Kilimanjaro is only 3 degrees from the equator but at over 19,000 ft in elevation, its summit is always covered in snow.

factors affecting climate local geography1
Factors Affecting Climate – Local Geography

The side of a mountain range a location is on will determine whether it gets rain or not – depending on which way the prevailing winds blow.


Differences in seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth away from the sun during winter and towards the sun during summer.

the greenhouse effect
The Greenhouse Effect

What is the greenhouse effect? It is heat from the sun being trapped by the gases in our atmosphere.

  • A greenhouse effect you may relate to is that of a closed car on a cold, sunny day in winter.
  • The greenhouse effect is a GOOD thing! It allows for life on our planet!
the greenhouse effect1
The Greenhouse Effect

the greenhouse effect2
The Greenhouse Effect

What are greenhouse gases? They are gases in the atmosphere that trap and radiate heat from the sun.

  • Major greenhouse gases include: water vapor, carbon dioxide, CFC’s, methane, nitrous oxide.
  • Water vapor is one of the most important greenhouse gases and one whose levels in the atmosphere are not directly affected by human activity.
  • Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that is most directly affected by human activity. (Although it only makes up .04% of our atmosphere.)
  • Methane released by warming oceans and defrosting soil of the tundra can also raise global temperatures.
the greenhouse effect greenhouse gases water vapor
The Greenhouse Effect – Greenhouse Gases: Water Vapor

Notice the solar radiation that is reflected back to space from the tops of the clouds and the heat that is reflected back to Earth’s surface by the bottom of the clouds.

Water vapor’s role in the greenhouse effect (accounting for 70% of the affect) is not completely understood and is difficult to model in computer simulations on global warming.

the greenhouse effect greenhouse gases carbon dioxide
The Greenhouse Effect – Greenhouse Gases: Carbon Dioxide
  • A carbon sink is a place that absorbs and stores CO2.
    • Carbon sinks include oceans, carbonate minerals and terrestrial forests.
    • The natural process that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is photosynthesis – which explains why forests are considered to be carbon sinks!

the greenhouse effect greenhouse gases carbon dioxide1
The Greenhouse Effect – Greenhouse Gases: Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by respiration, decay, and burning of fossil fuels. It is absorbed or stored by such carbon sinks as untapped fossil fuels, oceans, and forests.

more on carbon dioxide
More on Carbon Dioxide …

The biggest threat to the rainforest is man. The ever-expanding human population is exerting tremendous pressure on the resources and the space of the rainforest. This is a hillside which has been cleared of its trees through the traditional "slash-and-burn" technique. You can already see erosion washing gullies on either side of this hill. As forests like this are slashed and burned, carbon dioxide is released and important carbon sinks are lost.

the greenhouse effect greenhouse gases methane
The Greenhouse Effect – Greenhouse Gases: Methane

the greenhouse effect greenhouse gases methane1
The Greenhouse Effect – Greenhouse Gases: Methane

“Bessy the Science Cow

Bessy and her cow friends are one of the world's greatest methane emitters. Cows exhale methane, which is a byproduct of the digestion of their grassy diet.”

the greenhouse effect greenhouse gases nitrous oxide
The Greenhouse Effect – Greenhouse Gases: Nitrous Oxide

the greenhouse effect3
The Greenhouse Effect

To review ….

What are some anthropogenic (human-related) sources of the aforementioned greenhouse gases?

  • industry
  • burning of fossil fuels
  • use of artificial fertilizers
  • deforestation & burning of biomass
the greenhouse effect4
The Greenhouse Effect

What are some natural sources of greenhouse gases?

cellular respiration (living things breathing) – give off carbon dioxide

decomposition in wetlands & rice patties, livestock – give off methane

the carbon dioxide connection
As stated earlier, CO2 is a greenhouse gas over which people have some control.

In 1958, the geophysicist Charles keeling began taking measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere from atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii.

He found that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased. (From 314 ppm in 1958 to 358 ppm in 1994 )

The Carbon Dioxide Connection

the carbon dioxide connection1
The Carbon Dioxide Connection

The major source of CO2 (besides just exhaling!) is the burning of fossil fuels – which explains why global warming activists call for a reduction of “emissions.”

Remember, a correlation does not prove a cause and effect. Some scientists have pointed out that carbon dioxide levels rise in response to natural warming.

the hockey stick graph
The Hockey Stick Graph …

“The large, full-colour “hockey-stick” was the key graph in the UN’s 2001 report, and the only one to appear six times. The Canadian Government copied it to every household. Four years passed before a leading scientific journal would publish the truth about the graph. Did the UN or the Canadian government apologise? Of course not. The UN still uses the graph in its publications.”

a word about the hockey stick graph
A Word About the Hockey Stick Graph …

This is the data that Michael Mann et al. conveniently - or deceptively – pick your adverb – left out of their “hockey stick” graph. Note that the Medieval Warming is a bit warmer than today – way before the Industrial Revolution!

another word about the hockey stick graph
Another Word About the Hockey Stick Graph …

Mann’s data was faulty – ignoring the fertilizing effects of carbon dioxide on bristlecone pine trees. His study contradicted what is known about the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age – from hundreds of historical sources and scientific papers. Being politically correct, Mann was named an IPCC lead author and an editor of The Journal of Climate!

global warming
Global Warming

Historically, two circumstances have caused global climate change:

    - An increase in the solar output of the sun (warming the Earth)

-Volcanic eruptions (cooling the Earth)

global cooling the eruption of tambora
“1816 is probably the best known example of a volcanically-induced climate cooling event. 

It was largely caused by the eruption of Tambora, Indonesia, in April 1815, in one of the largest known eruptions of the past few millennia. 

The aerosol veil caused Northern Hemisphere cooling of up to 1 degree Celsius, and considerably more locally, with effects lasting until the end of 1816 and extending to both hemispheres. 

Snow fell in New England in June.

Abnormally cool temperatures in Europe led to widespread famine and misery, although the connection to volcanic aerosols was not realized at the time. 

Image of the volcano is from the NASA Space Shuttle, showing the 7 kilometre-wide caldera depression formed in 1815.  (Image: NASA.) ”


Global Cooling – The Eruption of Tambora

Tambora Volcano, Indonesia

natural climate cycles in the past
Natural Climate Cycles in the Past
  • The Medieval Warming occurred between 900 AD to 1300 AD. During this time …
    • Vikings settled Greenland.
    • Productivity was up.
    • Grapes were grown farther north.
    • People lived longer!

natural climate cycles in the past1
Natural Climate Cycles in the Past…

The Little Ice Age occurred between 1300 AD to 1850 AD. During this time …

*There were reduced harvests and starvation.

*Populations declined.

*Diseases from overcrowding, malnutrition, and cold claimed more lives.


So what is global warming?

It’s an increase in the

temperature of Earth’s


Here’s what we know:

global warming1
Global Warming

The Earth is getting warmer. (by about 1 degree C during the past 150 years)

We are currently in a warming period.

global warming2
Global Warming

Sea level has risen by about 10 – 25 cm (about 7 inches) in the past 100 years.

evidence of global warming
Evidence of Global Warming
  • Glaciers are melting in Greenland, N. America, S. America, and Europe.
  • Ice shelves are breaking off in the Antarctic Peninsula. (Although the interior of Antarctica is cooling.)
  • Polar pack ice in the Arctic Circle is forming later in the fall and melting earlier in the spring.
evidence of global warming antarctic ice shelves breaking
Evidence of Global Warming – Antarctic Ice Shelves Breaking

Note that the Antarctic Peninsula is a small fraction (3%!) of Antarctica – but one of the most studied by scientists.

evidence of global warming antarctic ice shelves breaking1
Evidence of Global Warming – Antarctic Ice Shelves Breaking

“In 1995 the northern part of the Larsen ice shelf(known as Larsen A) collapsed – a process observed by Envisat’s predecessor spacecraft ERS.

On 18 March 2002 another part known as Larsen B [collapsed], as captured by ASAR.

During this most recent collapse a 200-metre-thick shelf with an area of 3,300 km2, equivalent in size to more than a third of the island of Corsica or the whole of Luxembourg, was lost.” Credits: H. Rott

evidence of global warming pack ice in the arctic is melting
Evidence of Global Warming – Pack Ice in the Arctic is Melting

What’s a polar bear to do?

global warming doom and gloom predictions
Global Warming – Doom and Gloom Predictions

Computer models like the one run by Oxford scientist Myles Allen have shown that in the next 50 years, global temperatures could rise 3 – 4 degrees F.

This increase will surpass the critical level of 2 degrees F – which will have an impact on global climate. (If it happens!)

global warming4
Global Warming

If this happens…

… there will be an increase in quantity and intensity of severe weather events such as hurricanes (warmer oceans).

… there will be changes in rainfall patterns (changing ocean currents)

… there will be severe flooding or droughts (changing rainfall patterns) This could cause the agricultural area of N. America to shift northward.

… there will be a rise in sea level (melting glacial ice) – flooding coastal areas.

… we will have a nice warm climate! (Bring out the beach chairs!)

how can we prevent a warming of this magnitude
How can we prevent a warming of this magnitude?

This depends on the cause of warming! If it is due to carbon dioxide emissions, then reducing our emissions is the way to do it! (That is the mantra of the politically correct.) How?

     1. Reduce our use of fossil fuels by…

conserving energy and searching for

alternative sources of energy.

     2. Plant trees to increase the “carbon


3. Save our forests.

what is the kyoto protocol
What is the Kyoto Protocol?

It is agreement on global warming reached by the UN Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto Japan in 1997.

The major industrial nations (163 as of April ’06) pledged to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012.

the kyoto protocol
The Kyoto Protocol

Why hasn’t the United States ratified the Kyoto Protocol?

-  It would be very expensive to carry out (about $150 -$400 billion/ year)

- Our government wants more information on the causes of global warming.

- Our government isn’t convinced that the current warming is human-induced. (Faulty hockey stick graphs don’t do much to inspire confidence in the IPCC findings!)

the ozone issue
The Ozone Issue

The chemical formula for ozone is O3

the ozone issue1
The Ozone Issue

The ozone layer is found in the stratosphere.

It absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

the ozone issue2
The Ozone Issue

The ozone layer is important because…

  • Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye) and skin cancer.
  • Ultraviolet radiation can kill the eggs of certain animals like amphibians because they lay their eggs in shallow water.

the ozone issue3
The Ozone Issue

Man-made chemicals called CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) react with ozone and break it apart.

The part of the CFC molecule that reacts with the ozone molecule is the chlorine atom.

the ozone issue4
The Ozone Issue

CFCs are used as refrigerants, coolants, propellants in aerosol cans, and styrofoam.

the ozone issue5
The Ozone Issue

the ozone issue6
The Ozone Issue

Scientist Susan Soloman of NOAA hypothesized that these CFC/ozone interactions were occurring in polar stratospheric clouds.

the ozone issue7
The Ozone Issue

This diagram illustrates what a “hole” in the ozone might look like.

The ozone “hole” is really a thinning.

the ozone issue8
The Ozone Issue

“The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica is seen in a series of satellite images over a 21-year time span.

The hole may actually close within 50 years as the level of destructive ozone-depleting CFCs in the atmosphere is now declining, one of the world's leading atmospheric scientist Paul Fraser from the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said on Tuesday.

Fraser said he had measured a decline in ozone-destroying gases since 2000. — Reuters photo”

the ozone issue9
The Ozone Issue

CFCs were banned in the late 1980’s in industrialized nations. They are still in use in some places in the world.(And it doesn’t help that the 2 billion plus people in China and India want air-conditioning, too!)

“Under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, developing countries committed themselves to halving consumption and production of the CFCs by 2005 and to achieving an 85 percent cut by 2007.”

the ozone issue10
The Ozone Issue
  • As you have already studied, the perfect refrigerant has yet to be developed.
  • This is an issue that will need further study.
in conclusion
In Conclusion…

  • Don’t believe everything you hear without doing your own research – especially if politicians are involved!
  • It’s probably best to read the research of actual scientists.
  • Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio are not actual scientists. Neither is Paul Rose.

Not actual scientists