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Earth Science - Lecture 21 Notes.docx

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Earth Sciences
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Sergei Basik

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October 23, 2013 CLIMATE CHANGE: CONSEQUENCES AND MITIGATION Consequences of Climate Change Oceans: Warming and Circulation  Increase in atmospheric temperature has been moderated by oceans which soak up more than 80% of global warming  Small warming of oceans contributes significantly to energy that drives storms  Water expands as it warms causing sea levels to rise  Warmer temperatures will cause more evaporation from oceans  increasing atmospheric water vapor  increasing global warming  Warming oceans is a trend tat cannot easily be reversed  Oceans can only be cooled by cooling atmosphere above them  Even with no further manmade emissions it would take hundreds to thousands of years to cool the environment to a level of a century ago  Large-scale conveyor belt circulation in the Atlantic Ocean involves: o Currents of warm, shallow water moving northward o Sinking, cold water moving south (Gulf Stream)  Low-density fresh water from melting glaciers and ice sheets could stop Atlantic circulation  Atlantic conveyor belt has shut down in the past causing dramatic regional cooling Precipitation Changes  Areas closer to the poles and equator will become wetter  Warmer mid-latitude regions will get drier  More energy in atmosphere will cause more storms (hurricanes and tornadoes will be more frequent and stronger)  Increased incidence of droughts and floods Arctic Thaw and Glacial Melting  Surface of Arctic Ocean has been frozen as long as anyone can remember  Arctic sea ice has decreased by about 8% per decade since the 1970s for a total loss of about 20%  Feedback mechanism: o High-albedo ice reflects solar radiation and cools air o Darker ocean water absorbs sun’s energy, melting more ice  Permafrost is thawing  releasing more carbon  sending more water into rivers and oceans  Sea floor thaw is initiating the release of methane through the melting of methane hydrates o Frozen methane-ice compound releases greenhouse gas methane when ocean temperatures rise or through other mechanisms  Glaciers are also melting (shrinking dramatically around the world) October 23, 2013 Sea-Level Rise  Global warming leads to sea-level rise in two ways: o Water added from melting of ice on land o Heating and expansion of sea water  Melting Arctic sea ice doe
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