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Global Climate Change

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1. What happens to solar radiation after it reaches Earth? How do greenhouse gases warm the lower atmosphere?
2. Solar radiation gets absorbed by the Earth’s surface when it reaches Earth. This emits infrared radiation into the land, ice and water. Greenhouse gases warm the lower atmosphere because they re-emit infrared radiation in all directions that travels back downward warming the lower atmosphere. This has led to the phenomenon as the Greenhouse Effect.

1. Why is carbon dioxide considered the main greenhouse gas? How could an increase in water vapor create either a positive or negative feedback effect?
2. Carbon dioxide is considered the main greenhouse gas because its widely abundant and contributes the most to the greenhouse effect. Even though it can be less potent, it is six times more prominent than other gases. An increase in water vapor can cause a positive feedback effect by creating a loop of increased water into the air by an increase of evaporation through an increase of temperature. A negative feedback effect loop sees an increase in clouds that shade or cool the earth. This could slow the warming by reflecting back more solar radiation into space.

1. How do scientists study the ancient atmosphere? Describe what a proxy indicator is, and give two examples.
2. Scientists study ancient atmosphere using ice cores. This study allows scientists to go back 800,00 years over 8 glacial cycles. Drilling into the cores give scientists samples from bubbles that contain small samples of the atmosphere. A proxy indicator is a type of indict evidence that serves as a substitute for direct measurement. It can shed light on past climates. Two examples are ice caps and glaciers.
3. Has simulating climate change with computer programs been effective in helping us predict climate? How do these programs work?
4. Computer programs simulating climate change has helped us predict climate. The climate models combine what is known about atmospheric circulation, ocean circulation atmospheric-ocean interaction and feedback cycles to predict climate processes. Its very sophisticated and requires complex manipulation of data and complex mathematical equations. This is only possible with the advances in technologies.
5. List 5 major trends in climate that scientists have documented so far. Now list 5 future trends or impacts that they are predicting. 6. Current trends

1. Surface temperature increasing .74’C
2. Arctic warming=glaciers melting
3. Intensity of hurricanes
4. Sea levels rising
5. Droughts longer

Future Trends
1. Mortality increase in corals
2. Human health will suffer
3. Greater precipitation
4. Seasonal phenomena shifts.
5. Ecosystems to weaken

1. Describe how rising sea levels, caused by global warming, can create problems for people. How may climate change affect marine ecosystems?Increased flooding from the melting Arctic will wash away costal land and rising sea levels will displace people and eat away vegetation. It will also threaten coral reefs and acidify the ocean making it difficult for organisms to develop their exoskeletons. It will also acidify the oceans effecting marine animals. This will effect food sources and have an impact on hunger.

2. How might a warmer climate affect agriculture? How is it affecting distribution of plants and animals? How might it affect human health?

3. A warmer climate will have a great impact on agriculture. We will see shorter growing seasons, less crop production and that could lead to an increase in global hunger. Forests will be more susceptible to fires and invasive species. Animals will be forced out of their habitats and seek cooler weather on higher grounds with no where else to go. Species are dependent on the weather for migration and mating seasons and climate change will interrupt these cycles forcing some animals into extinction. Humans will see an increase in health issues such as respiratory problems, disease and sanitation issues and drowning from floods.

4. What are the largest two sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States? How can we reduce the emissions?

5. The 2 largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are electricity production from fossil fuels and transportation. To reduce the emissions we must engage in lifestyle changes such as alternative modes of individual transportation, change to cleaner, renewable energy sources, conserve and be more efficient. Also, investing in creating eco-friendly cars such as hybrids will give people options to meet their lifestyle needs while reducing emissions.

6. What roles have international treaties played in addressing climate change? Give two specific examples.

7. International treaties have addressed climate change nation by nation. Many treaties are being formed as a voluntary way of addressing the issue. For example, the Kyoto Protocol that require signers to reduce 6 greenhouse gases to levels below what they were before 1990. Another example is an attempt at a follow up to the Kyoto Protocol discussed at the Copenhagen Conference. Although no details were set,

8. Describe one market-based approach for reducing greenhouse emissions. Explain one reason it may work well and one reason it may not work well.

9. One market-based approach for reducing greenhouse emissions is the permit trading program. This program allows polluters to determine how they will reduce their emissions and are given financial incentives for doing so. This can work well because it give businesses flexibility but may not work unless government policies call for limits on emissions.

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