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Question

Some people you know say they don’t believe that the climate is changing.  After this week’s readings, how would you respond?

Write a 525- to 700-word response including:

  • How scientists learn about past global temperatures and climates.

  • The greenhouse effect.

  • Greenhouse gases and their role in current climate change.

  • One piece of data scientists offer to show that the climate is changing globally (see this NASA website: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ ).

  • Expected impacts of climate change in North Carolina (this EPA website is very helpful: www3.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts/).

Answer

Global Warming

Over the last few decades, the global climate has been changing in what is widely referred to as global warming. Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global temperatures near the earth’s surface (Houghton, 2009). This increase in temperature is attributed to the increase in concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the universe atmosphere and thus increasing the amount of solar heat that reaches the earth. From the time of last ice age, global warming has been causing a change in climatic patterns.

Question 1

Through the study of past published data about climate, scientists can learn about the changes that are taking place as far as weather is concerned. They take their time to analyze possible changes that have happened in earth’s temperature over time thus gaining a better understanding of increase or decrease in world temperatures and make a determination to establish causes of these changes. Paleoclimatologists a branch of scientists have the responsibility to study the patterns of past climate which can even take a shaper of thousands or millions of years back. These scientists usually use elements of the environment to find proxy climate data related to the past and uses various methods to get accurate results. Such methods include tree rings, clues beneath the water, cities beneath the water and unlocking secrets in ancient ice.

Question 2

Greenhouse effect constitutes of processes and procedures through which radiations from the earth’s atmosphere warms the earth’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere (Houghton, 2009). The planet’s atmosphere contains radioactively active gasses which when hit by sunlight will radiate energy in all directions. As a result, some of this radiation energy is directed towards the earth’s surface thus warming it. The greenhouse effect usually depends on the atmosphere’s temperature and the amount of greenhouse gasses present in the atmosphere. Usually, the atmosphere is heated by absorption of thermal infrared radiation from the underlying surface, absorption of shorter wavelength radiant energy from the sun and convective heat fluxes from the surface. Planets natural greenhouse effect is essential in supporting human life since it helps to balance the sunlight reaching earth’s surface.

Related: SCI/256-ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Question 3

Greenhouse gasses that are naturally in the earth’s atmosphere contribute to support life for both animals and plants. Examples of such gasses include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. These gasses often absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range (Wentz, 2007). The greenhouse gasses cause the atmosphere to retain heat. Naturally, these gasses are supposed to reflect sunlight back into space but instead these gasses are currently absorbing this heat, slowing or preventing the loss of heat to space. As a result, these gasses are acting like a blanket of heat making the universe warmer than it is supposed to be.

Question 5

The current warming has a significant effect since it is human induced. Through Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see in pictures, collect data about the earth and climate on a global scale. Some of the indicators of changes in temperatures of the earth include sea level rise where it is estimated it rose by 17 centimeters in the last decade.  Moreover, all the three global surface temperature reconstructions show an increase in temperature, presence of warming oceans and shrinking ice sheet.

 

Question 6

Climate change can affect society in a broad way ranging from increase or decrease in rainfall to human health (Wentz, 2007). The current global warming in the world has led to more warming, floods, and drought in some parts of North America. Moreover, there is the presence of warmer and more acidic oceans down at the coast due to change in the marine ecosystem.

 

References

Houghton, J. (2009). Global warming: the complete briefing. Cambridge university press.

Wentz, F. J. (2007). How much more rain will global warming bring?. Science, 317(5835), , 233-235.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Paper

 

 

 

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