Informative Note on Global warming: Impact and Implications3
Various human activities especially industrial ones add emissions to the atmosphere. Suchgases/particles emitted have not been part of the atmosphere ever. ‘Climate change’encompasses the wide variety of accompanying impacts on temperature, weather patternsand other natural systems. What is unique about current global climate change, relative tohistorical changes, is the causal role of human activity (also called anthropogenic forcing)and the current and projected dramatic changes in climate across the globe.Heat-trapping ‘greenhouse gases’ in theatmosphere (of which the two most importantare water vapor and carbon dioxide, CO
) letthrough short-wave radiation from the sunbut absorb the long-wave heat radiationcoming back from the Earth’s surface and re-radiate it. These gases act like a blanket — and keep surface and lower atmosphere about33
C warmer than it would be without them.Earth’s greenhouse blanket is a good balancebetween the extremes of our neighbours:Mars, without any greenhouse gases, is afrozen wasteland; whilst Venus remainstrapped in a dense blanket of hot CO
. Various human activities including burning of fossil fuels, and long-term deforestation,humans have been increasing theconcentration of CO
and other greenhousegases in the atmosphere since the industrialrevolution began, thickening the greenhouseblanket. The enhanced concentration of greenhouse gases is believed to be responsiblefor raising the mean temperature of theearth’s surface above that occurring due to thenatural greenhouse effect (Effect of greenhouse gases without human activities). A prominent and consistent indicator of climate change is the retreat of mountain glaciers, a worldwide phenomenon. Impacts on ice are also clear around the poles. The Arctic ice cap isshrinking, whilst in Antarctica, massive calving of the Larsen Ice Shelf combined with rapidrise in local temperatures around the Antarctic peninsula has led scientists to predict itscomplete disappearance within decades. Another widely observed impact is the ‘bleaching’of coral reefs caused at least in part by rising sea-surface temperatures.
1. Solar radiation passes through the clearatmosphere.2. Most radiation is absorbed by the Earth'ssurface and warms it.3. Some solar radiation is reflected by the Earthand the atmosphere.4. Infrared radiation is emitted from the Earth'ssurface.5. Some of the infrared radiation is absorbed andre-emitted by the greenhouse gases.
“Climate change is happening. Over the 20
century, the global average temperature has risen by about 0.6 °C, and the mean temperature in Europe has increased by more than 0.9 °C. Globally, the 10warmest years on record all occurred after 1991.” -
European Commission strategy “Winning the Battle against Global Change