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Global Warming

Global Warming

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Published by Sudil Reddy

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Published by: Sudil Reddy on Aug 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Global warmingINTRODUCTION
Measurements of temperature taken by instruments all over the world, on land andat sea have revealed that during the 20
century the Earth¶s surface and lowest partof the atmosphere warmed up on average by about 0.6°C. During this period, man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane andnitrous oxide have increased, largely as a result of the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, and land use changes including deforestation for agriculture. In the last 20 years, concern has grown that these two phenomena are,at least in part, associated with each other. That is to say, global warming is nowconsidered most probably to be due to the increases in greenhouse gas emissionsand concurrent increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, whichhave enhanced the Earth's natural greenhouse effect. Whilst other natural causes of climate change can cause global climate to change over similar periods of time,computer models demonstrate that in all probability there is a real discerniblehuman influence on the global climate.If the climate changes as current computer models have projected, global averagesurface temperature could be anywhere from 1.4 to 5.8°C higher by the end of the21
century than in 1990. To put this temperature change into context, the increasein global average surface temperature which brought the Earth out of the last major ice age 14,000 years ago was of the order of 4 to 5°C. Such a rapid change inclimate will probably be too great to allow many ecosystems to suitably adapt, andthe rate of species extinction will most likely increase. In addition to impacts onwildlife and species biodiversity, human agriculture, forestry, water resources andhealth will all be affected. Such impacts will be related to changes in precipitation(rainfall and snowfall), sea level, and the frequency and intensity of extremeweather events, resulting from global warming. It is expected that the societiescurrently experiencing existing social, economic and climatic stresses will be bothworst affected and least able to adapt. These will include many in the developingworld, low-lying islands and coastal regions, and the urban poor.The Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol(1997) represent the first steps taken by the international community to protect the
Earth's climate from dangerous man-made interference. Currently, nations haveagreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of about 5% from 1990levels by the period 2008 to 2012. The UK, through its Climate ChangeProgramme, has committed itself to a 12.5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions.Additional commitments for further greenhouse gas emission reduction will needto be negotiated during the early part of the 21
century, if levels of greenhouse gasconcentrations in the atmosphere are to be stabilised at reasonable levels. Existingand future targets can be achieved by embracing the concept of sustainabledevelopment - development today that does not compromise the developmentneeds of future generations. In practical terms, this means using resources, particularly fossil-fuel-derived energy, more efficiently, re-using and recycling products where possible, and developing renewable forms of energy which areinexhaustible and do not pollute the atmosphere.Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that theglobal surface temperature is likely to rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F)during the 21st century. The uncertainty in this estimate arises from the use of models with differing sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations and the use of differing estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions. An increase in globaltemperature will cause sea levels to rise and will change the amount and pattern of  precipitation, probably including expansion of subtropical deserts. Warming isexpected to be strongest in the Arctic and would be associated with continuingretreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice. Other likely effects include changes inthe frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, species extinctions, andchanges in agricultural yields. Warming and related changes will vary from regionto region around the globe, though the nature of these regional variations isuncertain. The scientific consensus is that anthropogenic global warming isoccurring, however political and public debate continues. The Kyoto Protocol isaimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentration to prevent a "dangerousanthropogenic interference". As of November 2009, 187 states have signed andratified the protocol.
Temperature changes:
Evidence for warming of the climate system includes observed increases in globalaverage air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, andrising global average sea level. The most common measure of global warming isthe trend in globally averaged temperature near the Earth's surface. Expressed as alinear trend, this temperature rose by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C over the period 1906±2005.The rate of warming over the last half of that period was almost double that for the period as a whole (0.13 ± 0.03 °C per decade, versus 0.07 °C ± 0.02 °C per decade). The urban heat island effect is estimated to account for about 0.002 °C of warming per decade since 1900.
Temperatures in the lower troposphere haveincreased between 0.13 and 0.22 °C (0.22 and 0.4 °F) per decade since 1979,according to satellite temperature measurements. Temperature is believed to have been relatively stable over the one or two thousand years before 1850, withregionally varying fluctuations such as the Medieval Warm Period and the LittleIce Age.Estimates by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the NationalClimatic Data Center show that 2005 was the warmest year since reliable,widespread instrumental measurements became available in the late 1800s,exceeding the previous record set in 1998 by a few hundredths of a degree.Estimates prepared by the World Meteorological Organization and the ClimaticResearch Unit show 2005 as the second warmest year, behind 1998. Temperaturesin 1998 were unusually warm because the strongest El Niño in the past centuryoccurred during that year. Global temperature is subject to short-term fluctuationsthat overlay long term trends and can temporarily mask them. The relative stabilityin temperature from 2002 to 2009 is consistent with such an episode.Temperature changes vary over the globe. Since 1979, land temperatures haveincreased about twice as fast as ocean temperatures (0.25 °C per decade against0.13 °C per decade). Ocean temperatures increase more slowly than landtemperatures because of the larger effective heat capacity of the oceans and because the ocean loses more heat by evaporation. The Northern Hemispherewarms faster than the Southern Hemisphere because it has more land and becauseit has extensive areas of seasonal snow and sea-ice cover subject to ice-albedofeedback. Although more greenhouse gases are emitted in the Northern thanSouthern Hemisphere this does not contribute to the difference in warming becausethe major greenhouse gases persist long enough to mix between hemispheres.

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