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Atmosphere and Clouds


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Atmosphere and Clouds

1. What is the current CO2 concentration in parts per million (ppm)?
Since the time scientific data has been recorded and by looking at all the data,
globally, and taking into consideration other variables, it has been found that the concentrations
of carbon dioxide (CO2) in earth\s atmosphere topped 400 parts per million (ppm). The World
Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch network reported about these
record atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the seasonal maximum, while the average yearly
global concentration is anticipated to also go above this threshold as early as by 2015.
2. Is this higher or lower than the highs over the past 450,000 years?
In the year 1958 Charles Keeling, after whom is named the 'Keeling Curve'
started to measure the levels of carbon dioxide, after his demise in 2005, Ralph Keeling, program
director of CO2 Program at the Scripps, as well as the Professor and the Principal Investigator
for the Atmospheric Oxygen Research Group at SIO, and the son of Charles Keeling, went ahead
with these measurements and it was he who warned that the carbon dioxide levels are going to
hit 450 ppm shortly. According to the institute the levels of carbon dioxide have never gone
beyond 300 ppm in the last 450,000 years. According to Scripps, these data are obtained from the
past level of carbon dioxide which is found in very old air samples which remain preserved in
the Atlantic ice sheet.
3. From what three sources do humans add CO2 to the atmosphere?
The beginning of the Industrial Age was actually the start of the environmental disaster.
With the Industrial Age came the unprecedented want and consumption of coal which was used
for the generation of electricity. Today 87 percent of all human-produced CO2 emissions come
from the burning of coal, gas and oil. Then began deforestation, trees which absorbed CO2 were

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cut down for various purposes, this major loss of forest lands alone account for 20 percent of
CO2 emissions worldwide. Transportation is the second largest cause of CO2 emissions
(Emmanuel, K. 2005). In most countries of Asia and Africa, diesel oil is used in transportation,
due to this reason countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan suffer from the worst type of
environmental pollution and it should also be noted that these three countries alone account for a
little less than one third of global population (Le Qur, C. et al.2013)..
4. What two sources take CO2 out of the atmosphere?
The process of photosynthesis in the plant kingdom is the main source of the
removal of CO2 from earth's atmosphere:
Energy (sunlight) + 6 CO2 + 6 H2O ---> C6H12O6 + 6 O2.
A lot of CO2 gets removed from the air-water system during deposition of carbonate minerals as
sediments. Similarly the absorption of CO2 by sea water is another removal source. The waters
of Northern Ocean provide our single largest source of CO2 removal (I.Haris, et al. 2006).
5. How does deforestation contribute to the global warming process?
Deforestation is mainly due to the human action. The impact of people has been and
continues to be very serious. Trees are cut down; forests are degraded and fragmented by timber
harvest, building of roads, human-caused fire, etc. The loss of forests impacts the Earth's
ecosystem in many complex ways. Nearly one half of the forests that covered the Earth are gone.
The effects of deforestation include:
- Rise in global surface temperature
-Soil erosion and infertility
-Increase in CO2 levels
-Increase in surface albedo

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6. In your opinion, are humans contributing to global warming, or is it just a natural part of the
Impartial jury should not come back with a guilty verdict convicting humanity of
forcing recent climatological changes. It is again the awesome power of nature which is driving
the Earth's climate. The solar irradiation is a major energy supplier to both, the hydrosphere and
atmosphere, and then there is outgassing which is also a major gaseous matter supplier. At the
interface of lithosphere and atmosphere there are various microbial activities and the extent of
these natural processes are more than 4 orders of magnitude greater than the emissions of the
greenhouse gases.

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Brohan, P., J.J. Kennedy, I.Haris, et al., Uncertainty estimates in regional and global observed
temperature changes: a new dataset from 1850. Journal of Geophysical Research, 2006.
111: p. D12106, doi: 10.1029/2003JA009974.
Emmanuel, K. 2005.Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years.
Nature 436: 686-688;
Le Qur, C. et al. (2013). The global carbon budget 1959-2011. Retrieved from