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Environment (160)
ENV100Y5 (131)
Chapter 15

Chapter 15.docx

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Monika Havelka

What is global change? • Global warming is climate change • Global climate change – traditions and variations in earth’s climate for temperature, precipitation, and storm frequency and intensity • Global warming: refers to specifically to an increase in Earth’s avg. surface temperature; thus an aspect of global change • Impacts that are global in extent • Cumulative or synergistic effects of local/regional actions • Impacts that are long-lasting or potentially permanent • Atmospheric change: • Stratospheric ozone depletion • Global climatic change Global change affects the “global commons” • Common property resources are collectively owned or communally accessed or utilized • The Tragedy of the Commons • Global commons: outside national jurisdiction  Deep ocean  Antarctica  Atmosphere Three natural factors exert more influence on climate than all others • The Sun supplies most of the planet’s energy • The atmosphere absorbs incoming and outgoing solar radiation • The oceans shape climate by storing and transporting heat and moisture • Also to be considered: the role of human activity • Sun and atmosphere keep earth warm: sun (without it earth frozen and dark) and atmosphere (without it earth much colder) and ocean ( shapes climate by storing and transporting heat and moisture) • Albedo: the reflectivity of a surface Solar energy powers life • The Sun radiates energy, mainly in the shorter wavelength portions of the electromagnetic spectrum Greenhouse gases warm the lower atmosphere: • Earth’s surface absorb the incoming short-wavelength solar radiation, surface materials increase in temperature and emit infrared radiation, radiation with longer wavelengths than visible light • Greenhouses gases (GHGs): water vapour, ozone O3, carbon dioxide CO2, nitrous oxide N2O, methane CH4 and CFC • Greenhouse Effect: o After absorbing radiation emitted from the surface, greenhouse gases re-emit infrared energy of slightly different wavelengths o Some of re-emitted energy lost to space o Some travel back down = warming the troposphere • Anthropogenic: human generated and contributed to greenhouse effect • CO2 is the anthropogenic greenhouse gas of primary concern Greenhouse gases differ in their ability to cause warming • Global warming potential (or radiative forcing potential) = relative ability of a given greenhouse gas to contribute to greenhouse warming • Expressed in relation to carbon dioxide (potential = 1) over the atmospheric lifetime of the gas, or 100 years • Methane is 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide • Nitrous oxide is 296 times as potent as carbon dioxide To understand climatic change, we need to understand Earth’s energy cycle • We can take a systems approach to Earth’s energy cycle:
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