Climate Change Guest Speaker.docx

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Climate Change 3/14/2012 7:35:00 AM
Messages
Global climate is sensitive and responding to human activities
Environmental response
o Systemic
o Profound
o Delayed
o Difficult to reverse
Canadian policy
o Exploitation and adaptation
o Resilience
How Climate Works
Energy transfer mechanisms
o Radiation
Global radiation balance
Absorbed sunlight must equal the emitted infrared
radiation
Surplus energy in central latitude (equator) known as
the Intertropical Convergence Zone
Deficit energy in higher latitudes (poles)
Sensible heat (warmth of the air and water)
Latent heat (water vapour)
How heat moves
o Hadley cells how warm air rises and cool air falls in a
circular motion and changing these Hadley cells will change
the location of the Earth’s deserts
o Global ocean currents - North Atlantic Deep Water Formation
(NADW)
Ocean freezes leaving behind dense, salt heavy water,
which sinks to the bottom of the ocean which pumps
the global ocean currents
If the freezing of the North Atlantic stops, the
current will stop its regular flow
Influences on Global Climate
Solar variation (shortwave)
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Planetary reflectivity (albedo)
o Cools the planet high altitude clouds, snow, ice and deserts
Warm the planet low altitude clouds, forests and water
Atmospheric composition
o Halogen compounds
o Methane
o Water vapour
o Sulfur dioxides
o Carbon dioxides
As the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere increases,
temperature increases
Ocean salinity and connectivity
Response and Feedback
Feedback the effect of the outcome of an action on the rate of the
action
o Negative the outcome of an action slows down the change
(stability)
Increasing CO2, warming the climate, increasing clouds
lets in less sunlight, even weaker warming
o Positive the outcome of an action accelerates the change
(instability)
o Land
Forest and muskeg burning to CO2
Permafrost melting muskeg to CH4 and CO2
Fugitive methane gas well leakage
o Ocean
Loss of arctic sea ice to water (albedo)
Reduced CO2 uptake (acidification)
Clathrate release ice that contains methane gas
Enhanced ice sheet melting
NADW failure
As the ice sheets melt, sea level rises
Ice sheets will detach and become mobile
Response
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