Global Climate Change

June 12, 2017

Global climate change is a trend in Earth’s climate. It is NOT synonymous with Global Warming. There are four factors that influence climate. The sun, atmospheric gases that absorb and re-emit the sun’s infrared radiation, the ocean’s ability to store and transport heat and moisture, and Earth’s seasonal cycle of spin, tilt, and movement through space. Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb radiation from the Earth’s surface and re-emits infrared radiation back downward, warming the troposphere and causing the greenhouse gas effect. Greenhouse gases are necessary for life’s survival on Earth. However, human actions intensify greenhouse gases. They add new gases (halocarbons) and increase natural concentration of already existing greenhouse gases.

Human activity has influenced atmosphere and climate in multiple ways. Such influence is the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For carbon dioxide, scientists have seen the increase of gas from 280 parts per million (ppm) in the 1700s to 400 ppm in 2013. This is primarily due to the increase of fossil fuel use and deforestation. Other influences include the release/formation of aerosols, are microscopic droplets and particulates from burning solid materials. Another large problem due to human influence is the problem of the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide. Oceans have the natural ability to absorb carbon dioxide but the amount of carbon dioxide created by humans are greater than the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide. Warmer water absorbs less than colder water which results in a positive feedback loop. It accelerates the warming of the atmosphere and climate change potential with no end in sight.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed in their 2007 report that the Earth’s temperature rose up to .74 degree Celsius in the past 100 years. The average surface temperature rose up to .9 degree Celsius in the past 100 years. Precipitation increased in high latitudes while decreasing in low/middle latitudes. This has resulted in worse water shortages.

Responses and actions to mitigate climate changes can be done to specific areas. Energy generation could be moved to more sustainable and cleaner sources rather than fossil fuels. Increasing automobile fuel efficiency or creating a mass transit could improve transportation. Agriculture could be turned more sustainable and forests could be managed with reforestation of cleared areas. Carbon capture technologies could be improved and used to remove carbon dioxide from power plant emissions. These responses may become the future.

<Ji Hyun Park, Crean Luthern HS, 11th Grade>

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