Global warming

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Global warming is the unusual increase of temperature in the Earth’s surface. Global warming is when the Sun's energy enters the atmosphere and heats the Earth by light waves. The energy warms the Earth, and then re-radiates infrared waves back into space. Some of the infrared radiation going into space is naturally trapped by the atmosphere, which keeps the temperatures on Earth moderate. The thin layer of Earth's atmosphere is now being thickened by large amounts of human-caused greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide. The thickening of Earth's atmosphere traps the infrared radiation, which then warms the temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans. Over the past century the temperature has been rapidly increasing because of greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels.[1]

Temperature changes

Earth’s temperatures are created with a natural greenhouse effect from the Sun. About 30 percent of sunlight is reflected back into space because of clouds and ice. The other 70 percent of sunlight is absorbed by the land and ocean. Our planet is heated by the solar energy. Without a greenhouse effect, the Earth’s average temperature would be -18° Celsius (0° F) instead of our temperature of 15° Celsius (59° F). Today’s atmosphere contains more greenhouse gas molecules, so more of the infrared energy is absorbed. The extra energy from a warmer atmosphere radiates back to the surface and increases Earth’s surface temperature. Between 1906 and 2005, the global average surface temperature has rose from 0.6 to 0.9° Celsius (1.1° to 1.6° F). The rise of carbon dioxide is expected to raise the Earth's temperature another 3° Fahrenheit to 9° Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Since 2000, 13 of the 15 warmest years have occurred, 2014 being the warmest year on record and 2015 ranking as just as warm or warmer. 2015 is 1.53° Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, and 0.16° Fahrenheit ahead of 2010.[2]

Global Temperature Index from 1880 to 2006; Retrieved from NASA

Causes of temperature change

Greenhouses gases cause temperature changes. Greenhouse gases allow light from the sun to enter in our atmosphere, and warm up the air due to trapped infrared radiation. 80% of total greenhouse gas emissions are caused by Carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is released into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), solid waste and trees and wood products. Deforestation and soil degradation also add carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 60% of methane gas is caused my humans, in the forms of, landfills, farming, wastewater treatment and fossil fuel burning. Methane gas is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is naturally occurring, but humans have caused a 17% increase in release in the atmosphere due to fertilizers, crop residues and the burning of forests. Nitrous oxide is emitted during agriculture and industrial activities, and during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), perfluorocarbons (PFC), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) all contain fluorine and are exclusively produced by human activity. These gases are emitted from industrial processes and commercial and household uses. Water vapor is a natural greenhouse gas that increases in volume when temperatures warm, which magnifies the artificial greenhouse gases.[3]

Global CO2 Emissions from Major Countries from 1959-2011; Retrieved from Flickr

Environmental effects

The warmer the oceans get, the more intense storms become. When the top layer of the ocean warms it creates convection energy, which can cause powerful hurricanes. There is also a correlation between global warming and the number per year, duration and intensity of hurricanes. When the temperature of water increases, the wind velocity and moisture condensation increases also. When the ocean warms the moisture content increases for storms, which causes storms to be downpours. These large downpours that happen all at once, create events like floods, which have been increasing in numbers decade to decade. Some of these storms are relocated and then lead other areas to have droughts. Warmer temperatures have caused Artic Sea ice to melt, which causes spring melting to occur earlier and autumn freezing to occur later. Global warming has caused soil that is frozen permanently or permafrost to melt. Warmer temperatures also causes the retreat of glaciers, when these glaciers melt, they add more water into the oceans, which causes sea level rise.[1]

Northwestern Glacier melt, Alaska in 1940 and 2005; Retrieved from NASA

Prevention

  • Limiting the amount of energy in your home by using energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, and knowing how to use the appliances properly.
  • Use air conditioner and heater only when necessary, and make sure your house is properly insulated.
  • Use hot water sparingly and use cold water when washing clothes and dishes.
  • Unplug appliances when not using them.
  • Reduce driving and use other means of transportation like walking, biking or carpooling.
  • Recycle and use reusable bags for purchases and use refillable water bottles.[4]

See also

Other closely related articles in this wiki include:

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Gore, A. (2006). An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. New York, New York: Rodale Press.
  2. Riebeek, H. (2010, June 3). Global Warming : Feature Articles. Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/
  3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (n.d.). Climate Change Indicators in the United States. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators/ghg/
  4. Viñas, M.-J., & Rasmussen, C. (2015, August 26). Warming seas and melting ice sheets [Global Climate Change]. Retrieved October 2, 2015, from http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2328/

External links

  • [1] NASA's detailed global climate change projections
  • [2] NASA explains sea level rise impacted by global warming
  • [3] NASA explains the warming seas and melting ice sheets
  • [4] Information on Arctic climate change
  • [5] Information on rising temperatures that are melting California's critical snowpack
  • [6] TED Talks: Climate change: Oh, it's real. playlist