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greenhouse effect
Greenhouse Effect
  • How does it work?

Some gases in the atmosphere allow visible light in, but are opaque to infrared radiation (heat). Glass also does this - hence the name Greenhouse Effect. This allows sunlight to reach the Earth and warm it, but it prevents some of the heat from escaping.

greenhouse effect3
Greenhouse Effect
  • What gases are greenhouse gases?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) both trap heat. Methane is much better at trapping heat, but there is much less of it in the atmosphere, and less is produced (naturally and by humans). It is also less stable - it oxidizes easily:

CH4 + 2O2 => CO2 + 2H2O


sea level rise
Sea Level Rise
  • Sea level has risen 10-25 cm in the last century
    • 2-5 cm from melting of mountain glaciers
    • 2-7 cm from thermal expansion of water
    • Rest from continental glaciers and other sources
    • 20 cm rise  ~20 m coastline retreat
  • Future rise will happen because of further melting, particularly of mountain glaciers and Greenland ice sheet, and thermal expansion
  • IPCC estimates that sea level will rise 30 to 100 cm by the year 2100.
sea level rise13
Sea Level Rise
  • Larger change could occur if Greenland and Antarctic ice caps melt.
  • Greenland’s ice could represent as much as 5-7m of sea level rise.
  • The East Antarctic ice sheet would produce 70m of sea level rise, but it is unlikely to melt completely or soon
  • The West Antarctic ice sheet could melt, and would produce 5-7m of sea level rise
  • Some of the melting could be balanced out by increased precipitation
but poor tuvalu
But Poor Tuvalu…
  • Population: 11,305
  • Highest elevation: 5m (16 feet)

Requesting relocation to Australia

precipitation trends
Precipitation Trends
  • North America has had an average increase of 5% in precipitation since 1900
  • Intensity of storms is increasing, too - in 1900, only 9% of the country experienced 2 inches of rain in 24 hours in a year; now it’s 11%
100 year instrumental records
100-year Instrumental Records

Figure after GHCN (2000)

Data from GHCN/NCDC/NOAA (2000)


Blockage of Solar Radiation by SO2 emissions

EPA image -

warming trends
Warming Trends
  • In most places, winter is warming more than summer
  • Higher latitudes are warming faster than lower
  • Urban areas warming faster than rural due to “urban island” effect
future warming
Future Warming
  • Doubling of pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 would produce 1.5-4.5°C change in atmospheric temperature, say models
  • We may be on track to reach or exceed this level in the next century or two
  • Some of the CO2 will be absorbed by the ocean and vegetation; it is not clear how much
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a warming of 1.4-5.8°C (2.5-10.4°F) by the year 2100.
health risks of warming
Health Risks of Warming
  • More people die when it’s warm, many from heart problems
  • Ozone levels become much more concentrated in urban areas
  • Tropical diseases such as malaria and cholera may spread, particularly if it gets wetter as well as warmer
ice age perspective
Ice Age Perspective

Image by Robert Rhode from Global Warming Art Project

kyoto protocol
Kyoto Protocol
  • Completed 11 December 1997
  • Requires reduction by 2008-2012 to a fraction of 1990 emissions – average reduction of about 5% below 1990
  • Fraction depends on which nation:
Australia 108

Austria 92

Belgium 92

Bulgaria* 92

Canada 94

Croatia* 95

Czech Republic* 92

Denmark 92

Estonia* 92

European Community 92

Finland 92

France 92

Germany 92

Greece 92

Hungary* 94

Iceland 110

Ireland 92

Italy 92

Japan 94

Latvia* 92

Liechtenstein 92

Lithuania* 92

Luxembourg 92

Monaco 92

Netherlands 92

New Zealand 100

Norway 101

Poland* 94

Portugal 92

Romania* 92

Russian Federation* 100

Slovakia* 92

Slovenia* 92

Spain 92

Sweden 92

Switzerland 92

Ukraine* 100

United Kingdom 92

United States of America 93

* Making transition to market economy

kyoto treaty
Kyoto Treaty

U.S. has agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. With predicted economic growth, that represents a cut of 1/4 from levels expected without cutbacks.

kyoto requirements
Kyoto Requirements
  • Baseline – “the aggregate anthropogenic carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by sources minus removals by sinks in 1990 from land-use change”
  • Can use 1995 levels for some materials (e.g. sulfur hexafluoride)
kyoto requirements37
Kyoto Requirements
  • Commitments for subsequent periods for Parties included in Annex I shall be established in amendments to Annex B to this Protocol, which shall be adopted in accordance with the provisions of Article 21, paragraph 7. The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol shall initiate the consideration of such commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period referred to in paragraph 1 above.
  • We’ll revisit the restrictions in 2005
kyoto requirements38
Kyoto Requirements
  • Any emission reduction units, or any part of an assigned amount, which a Party transfers to another Party in accordance with the provisions of Article 6 or of Article 17 shall be subtracted from the assigned amount for the transferring Party.
  • You can sell allowances to others
kyoto requirements39
Kyoto Requirements
  • Any certified emission reductions which a Party acquires from another Party in accordance with the provisions of Article 12 shall be added to the assigned amount for the acquiring Party.
  • You can buy allowances from others and use them
kyoto requirements40
Kyoto Requirements
  • If the emissions of a Party included in Annex I in a commitment period are less than its assigned amount under this Article, this difference shall, on request of that Party, be added to the assigned amount for that Party for subsequent commitment periods.
  • If you do better than the target, you may voluntarily reduce future targets
kyoto requirements41
Kyoto Requirements
  • Each Party included in Annex I shall strive to implement the commitments mentioned in paragraph 1 above in such a way as to minimize adverse social, environmental and economic impacts on developing country Parties, particularly those identified in Article 4, paragraphs 8 and 9, of the Convention. In line with relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties on the implementation of those paragraphs, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol shall, at its first session, consider what actions are necessary to minimize the adverse effects of climate change and/or the impacts of response measures on Parties referred to in those paragraphs. Among the issues to be considered shall be the establishment of funding, insurance and transfer of technology.
  • We’ll do this in a way that won’t hose the developing countries
other requirements
Other Requirements
  • All signers must have a national program to quantify emissions and sinks
  • IPCC determines what global warming potential various gases have
emissions trading
Emissions Trading
  • For the purpose of meeting its commitments under Article 3, any Party included in Annex I may transfer to, or acquire from, any other such Party emission reduction units resulting from projects aimed at reducing anthropogenic emissions by sources or enhancing anthropogenic removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in any sector of the economy, provided that:
emissions trading44
Emissions Trading
  • (a) Any such project has the approval of the Parties involved;
  • Duh
emissions trading45
Emissions Trading
  • (b) Any such project provides a reduction in emissions by sources, or an enhancement of removals by sinks, that is additional to any that would otherwise occur;
  • You can’t just sell things that would happen anyway – e.g. funding a rainforest preservation project is OK, but selling allowances for existing rainforest that you weren’t going to cut down isn’t OK.
emissions trading46
Emissions Trading
  • (c) It does not acquire any emission reduction units if it is not in compliance with its obligations under Articles 5 and 7; and
  • You can’t buy emissions allowances if you haven’t done the required analysis and reporting
emissions trading47
Emissions Trading
  • (d) The acquisition of emission reduction units shall be supplemental to domestic actions for the purposes of meeting commitments under Article 3.
  • You have to be working on stuff in your own country at the same time
emissions reduction
Emissions Reduction
  • Some allowances are made for giving “clean” technology to other nations.
  • If you share such technology, this gives your nation credit towards your target
  • The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol shall, at its first session, approve appropriate and effective procedures and mechanisms to determine and to address cases of non-compliance with the provisions of this Protocol, including through the development of an indicative list of consequences, taking into account the cause, type, degree and frequency of non-compliance. Any procedures and mechanisms under this Article entailing binding consequences shall be adopted by means of an amendment to this Protocol.
  • We don’t know what the consequences will be yet
kyoto protocol signers
Kyoto Protocol Signers
  • 84 Nations signed
  • 119 nations have ratified, approved, or acceded
  • Ratification = official constitutional adoption as in U.S.
  • Approval = same as ratification when constitution doesn’t require it
  • Accession = acceptance of all terms without having been party to writing or creation
kyoto protocol signers51
Kyoto Protocol Signers
  • Nations representing 44.2% of global CO2 emissions (includes major players like Germany, UK, Japan) have ratified it
  • Legal status:

The Protocol is subject to ratification, acceptance, approval or accession by Parties to the Convention. It shall enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date on which not less than 55 Parties to the Convention, incorporating Annex I Parties which accounted in total for at least 55 % of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990 from that group, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

  • U.S. has effective veto over it, and we have done so
kyoto treaty predictions
Kyoto Treaty - Predictions

Energy Information Administration (DOE) predictions:

  • 52 percent increase in gasoline prices,
  • 86 percent increase in electricity prices,
  • 4.2 percent decrease in GDP
  • 2.5 percent decline in personal disposable income.
march 3
March 3
  • Record high temperature for Greensboro on March 3:

84°F in 1976

  • Record low temperature for Boston on March 3:

10°F in 1943


  • Hypothesis: If the Earth is warming, we should have more frequent record high temperatures and less frequent record low temperatures.


  • Questions: How frequent will they become? Will this increase public awareness of warming?
record highs on the rise
Record Highs on the Rise

Data from National Weather Service, Boston

data sets
Data Sets
  • Using Global Historical Climate Network monthly mean temperature data (National Climatic Data Center, NOAA, 2001)
  • 5x5 degree cells, monthly values; some data sets go back as far as 1880
  • To ensure a long record length, only the 242 cells with data covering 1900-2000 were used, for a total of 2904 data sets.
  • Some were missing some data points, but this could be accommodated statistically.
  • Technique and statistical model is applicable to any type of time series
data sets used
Data Sets Used

Figure after GHCN (2000)

Data from GHCN/NCDC/NOAA (2000)

predictions of warming
Predictions of Warming
  • 20th century warming was about 0.6°C over 100 years

IPCC (2001) predictions:

  • 1.4-5.8°C average global temperature increase by 2100
  • More severe warming over land than sea
  • More severe warming at high latitudes and during winter
  • 20th century temperatures have showed more record highs and fewer record lows than expected with no warming
  • Measuring in whole degrees reduces the incidence of records, both warm and cold, particularly as more time passes
still more conclusions
Still More Conclusions

Assuming a warming of 3°C over 100 years:

  • Over the next 100 years, we can expect a record warm temperature in about 7% of time intervals
  • For any temperature data set, over 50% of records will have been set during the previous 10 years, and over 75% will have been set during the previous 20 years
one last conclusion
One Last Conclusion
  • With a 3°C warming over the 21st century, an average of about two days per month or one month a year will be the warmest in recorded history