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Variable Weather and Changing Climate A continuing challenge?


Sec 4 NA/Exp

Key Question 2: What is happening to the

Earths Climate?
Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to
Discuss climate change in the last 150 years
Explain the greenhouse effect
Discuss the natural causes of recent climate change

What is Happening?
Global records since 1881 show a significant, but irregular temperature rise of 0.3C to 0.6C
Global cooling was recorded after WWII for several decades because of industrial pollution
and volcanic activity (global dimming)
Global warming over the last century: world is warming on average by 0.74C, with most of
that since 1970s
Global temperatures in the last decade reached the highest levels on record

Why does it happen? Enhanced Greenhouse Effect!

Greenhouse effect, Enhanced greenhouse effect and Greenhouse gases?
The gases responsible with keeping the planet warm are called greenhouse gases.
Consist of mainly carbon dioxide and water vapour, methane and nitrous oxide.
Enhanced Greenhouse Effect: Increase in greenhouse gases, leading to rise in global

Variable Weather and Changing Climate A continuing challenge?


Sec 4 NA/Exp

Natural Causes of Climate change

Variations in Solar Output

Sun emits different amount of solar
radiation due to changes in magnetic
Magnetic activity every 11 years
An increase in solar radiation is due to an
increase in sun spots.
Areas surrounding the sunspots radiate
more energy to make up for the cooler
sunspot areas.
With higher solar radiation, earths
temperatures will increase.

Volcanic Eruptions
Dust particles from eruption form
condensation nuclei, creating more cloud
Dust and ash also reflect away incoming
solar radiation.
Global dimming: Gradual reduction in
the amount of sunlight reaching the
earths surface. Temporarily cools the
earth for months or years.

Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to

Explain how human activities such as deforestation, burning of fossil fuels,
rice cultivation and cattle farming increase greenhouse gases and lead to
enhanced greenhouse effect

Human Activity
Burning Fossil

Description of Activity


Change in Land
Use: Agriculture

Fossil fuels burnt to

produce a large amount
of energy.
Energy needed for human
Loss of forests to make
products, for mining and
make way for new land

Use of tractors, organic

matter, inorganic
fertilisers, cattle farming.

Change in Land
Use: Industries

Production of goods and

services within a country

Change in Land

Everyday activities done

Impact on Greenhouse

Fossil fuels have high

carbon content, cause large
amount of carbon dioxide to
be released when burnt.

1) Less trees to absorb carbon

2) Without trees to shade the
soil, soil exposed to sunlight
-> higher temp -> carbon in
soil to react with Oxygen ->
produces Carbon Dioxide
This is called Carbon
Tractors: Burning of fossil fuels
Organic matter: Nitrous Oxide
Inorganic fertilisers: Methane
Cattle farmin: Methane
*Methane is 23 times more effective
at trapping heat in the atmosphere
than carbon dioxide!!
Burning of fossil fuels to
create energy needed to run
factory processes.
Burning of fossil fuels to

Variable Weather and Changing Climate A continuing challenge?


Use: Urbanization

by those living in urban

areas. Eg heating,
cooking, lighting and
mass transportation such
as buses.

Sec 4 NA/Exp

create energy needed

toprovde energy for these
urban activities.

Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to

Explain the impact of climate change such as sea level rise, extreme weather
events and human health
Describe the responses to climate change
Sea Level Rise

More Frequent
Extreme Weather
Spread of Infectious

Legthening the
growing season in
certain regions

How does it affect people?

Increase in the mean height of the seas surface between high and low
tide relative to land.
1) Higher temperatures causes water to expand
2)Higher temperatures causes glaciers/ice caps to melt, adding
meltwater to the sea
*Eg. Heat waves, floods, droughts and tropical cyclones
Increasing weather events due to higher land and sea temperatures
Increased rainfall and temperatures = favourable for mosquitoes to
Spread of dengue and malaria
As temperate countries get warmer, mosquitoes are able to breed
further up north of the Equator
Higher temperatures have lead to longer growing seasons for
some regions.
Increase in types of crops that can be grown in UK.
Increase in fruit, soybeans, potatoes and wheat in Canada.
(Cool regions are now getting hotter, less conducive for temperate
Apples and cherries production in Yunnan is reduced as they need cool