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Environmental Geology - Measuring Global Temperature

Environmental Geology - Measuring Global Temperature

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This is my homework. It is possible that it may contain some errors/outdated information. I appreciate all suggestions to improve this document.
This is my homework. It is possible that it may contain some errors/outdated information. I appreciate all suggestions to improve this document.

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Published by: cute_nee on Apr 12, 2010
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Cheng Shae Nee 7D6B4294 / 13869870Geology 108 Assignment Report
Question 1
Anthropogenic climate change has been in the spotlight of concern in the recent years.Many climatologists and meteorologists are uncertain about future climate change, and thecalamities that may befall us when humans disrupt the natural balance of the climate.The global temperature is one of the key factors that induce climate change. The Earth’stemperature is always changing. However, humans can only sustain their lives on Earth if theglobal temperature stays within our comfortable range. Any variations of the global meantemperature can disrupt the equilibrium of human life.The global mean temperature can be divided into two parts based on data measurementmethods. ‘Instrumental temperature records’ are temperature data obtained from modern methods,such as through weather stations, weather buoys, weather balloons, or through GeographicInformation System (GIS) via satellites. The oldest known data obtained by this method dates back to only 1861, which dwarfs compared to the Earth’s climate history of 4.6 billion years(Soon andBaliunas). The second method is using ‘climate proxies’, where the global mean temperature of thepast is measured by indirect methods such as oxygen isotopes, tree rings, ice bubbles etc. Thesecond type of measurement can provide the global mean temperature for up to millions of yearsago, but contains more uncertainties since other existing factors can manipulate the results of thefindings.‘Instrumental temperature record’ can be subdivided again into two parts, surfacetemperature and lower atmosphere temperature (troposphere). Many climate models tell that whenthere is a change of mean surface temperature, the mean troposphere temperature will risesimultaneously but on an amplified scale. To calculate mean surface temperature, data from land(via weather stations) and sea (via weather buoys or satellites) are obtained. To calculate meantroposphere temperature, weather balloons and satellites are used.
Figure 1A weather station situated in theNorth PoleA weather station is a facility where atmosphericobservations are made with modern technology in order tomake weather predictions as well as record data for furtherclimate studies. The maximum, minimum, mean, and modetemperatures are determined by using thermometers situatedin highly ventilated gauges.
Cheng Shae Nee 7D6B4294 / 13869870Geology 108 Assignment Report
Figure 2The distribution of weather stations around the globeFigure 4A sea buoyFigure 3A graph illustrating the urban heat island effectThe Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is another method in measuringglobal mean temperature. Prior to the 1940s, SST was measured by readingfrom a thermometer inserted into a ducked bucket of seawater into the ocean.After 1940s, SST was taken by measuring the temperature of the seawaterentering an engine cooling system. Today, one of the methodologies of attaining the SST is through sea buoys scattered in the ocean.(Soon andBaliunas)Secondly, from the information above,developed nations are known to undergo aphenomenon called the ‘urban heat island’ effect.Since weather stations population are denser inurban areas, data produced may be inaccuratelyrepresented due to heat emissions from cars,compressors etc.(Peterson 2006)From the picture above, there ishigh density of weather stations in urbanregions of the globe. The greatest flaw isthat the number of weather stations is notequally distributed around the globe.Henceforth, the data from all weatherstations obtained may be more biasedtowards climate changes in urbancountries.(Peterson 2006)
Cheng Shae Nee 7D6B4294 / 13869870Geology 108 Assignment Report
Figure 4Global distribution of sea bouysFigure 5A weather balloonFigure 6Picture of 2 different weather satellites thatorbit the earthFrom the diagramabove, it is noticed that theglobal buoys are fairlydistributed around the globe. Itis deemed to be fairly reliable inobtaining the SST. However,one flaw is the inconsistency of data measurement methodsbefore and after the 1940s,leading to great variancesbetween old and new data.(Soonand Baliunas)Weather balloons are used to evaluate the upper atmosphericconditions and gather information by height finding radar, remotesensing by earth-orbiting stationary satellites and aircraft instruments.Light gas (such as Helium or Hydrogen) is placed inside a latexmaterial and has a radiosonde attached to the lower end of the string.The weather balloon rises to the troposphere and measure propertiessuch as temperature, precipitation, wind speed etc. Weather balloonsare perceived as more reliable since its data is highly similar to thedata collected by satellites. However, its limitation lies with the factthat data collected by this method dates back to only less than 100years ago.(weather balloon)Satellites are observational devices released into theupper atmosphere to detect the global climate behaviours.They obtain data by having sensors called scanningradiometers which record thermal and infrared images.These infrared images show the amount of heat absorbedand then reflected by land, sea, clouds etc. Up till today, it isthe most reliable and modern technology in measuringglobal mean temperature.(weather satellite)

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