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Running head: GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE 1

Global Climate Change: Human Caused or a Pattern?

Danielle Holbrook

Capstone

Waxahachie Global High School


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Table of Contents

Abstract3

Change Over Time...4

Climate change evidence.4

Historical Implications.5

What are ice ages.....5

Past versus present...5

Polar Icecaps....6

Increase in melting, less refreezing..6

Storm Changings.........7

Notable increase in natural disasters...7

Carbon Emissions8

Increase in greenhouse gases...8

Ozone layer..9

Human Impact....10

Conclusion.11
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Abstract

The data shows that Earth is misbalanced in its cycles. The warming of the oceans, loss of ozone

layer, extreme melting of the Greenland ice sheet, the increase of destructive storms, and the

warming of the surface all show that the Earth is off balance. The culprits of these extreme

patterns may be varied, but they all source from humans. Humans use of aerosols destroyed the

ozone layer, burning of fossil fuels released high amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,

and these greenhouse gases cause the warming of the surface temperature. The warming of

surface temperatures causes the ice shelves to melt rapidly, raising the ocean level and exposing

the ice and water at an alarming rate. The destruction of habitats and the polluting of

environments are causing hazardous effects on Earth, killing off animals and plants that are vital

to the Earths ecosystem.

Keywords: global warming, Green House gases, Ozone layer, surface temperature, polar

ice caps, ice sheets, ice age


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Change Over Time

Climate change evidence

The Earth is constantly changing. The last ice age ended approximately 7,000 years ago,

noting the last major variation in Earths glacial advance and retreat; which are all contributed to

changes in the Earths orbit. Currently, our climate change is unprecedented in the past 1,300

years. The evidence for this is the rising sea level, the rapid rising of the global temperature,

warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, declining Arctic sea ice, glacial retreat, extreme storms,

ocean acidification, and decreased snow cover. These changes have gotten dramatically worse in

the last 50 years (History.com Staff, 2015).

The ocean is a key part of understanding climate change. The worlds ocean is getting

warmer both on the surface and underneath, which has affected all parts of life dependent on the

ocean. The top layer of the ocean has raised an average of 0.2 per decade, which will be

continue to rise after the greenhouse gases are lowered (see figure 1.1). The rising temperatures

have affected the storms, the rising of the ocean level, and killed coral along with other carbon-

storing ocean creatures. This information was obtained from the Environmental Protection

Agency (2016); which provides vital information that every citizen should know. Unfortunately,

under the Trump Administration, it may be shut down.


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Figure 1.1

Historical Implications

What are ice ages?

Periods of glacial expansion and warm intervals have been studied and observed by

leading geologists through studying the Earths surface, glaciers, fossils, and the ocean. The

warm intervals are marked by glacial receding, when there is only one ice sheet left marks the

end of an ice age. The cause of these ice ages stems from solar radiation and the tectonic plate

activity. Temperatures drop in certain areas, rendering snow incapable of melting. This continues

in layers, packing snow on top of snow until the bottom layer is ice (the glacier), which

continues growing and spreading through the freezing temperatures (History.com Staff, 2015).

These glaciers cause ocean levels to drop, land bridges to form, rapidly transforms land masses,

and form lakes.

Past versus present

Human documentation and history does not go far back in history compared to the

estimated length of Earth being around. There is no known data or records pertaining to whether
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or not these ice ages have occurred before, but scientists can speculate and make assumptions off

of evidence about Earths frozen history. These scientists have studied the organic matter found

in glaciers, the melting of the ice shelf, rock striations, deep sea ice cores, and plankton shells, all

to be able to pinpoint at least five major ice ages. These ice ages go as far back to an estimated

amount of 2.4 billion years ago, with the most recent period of glaciations taking place an

estimated 20,000 years ago (National Snow and Ice Data Center Staff, 2017).

Polar Icecaps

Increase in melting, less refreezing

The 20th and 21st centuries are technically ice ages due to the presence of the Greenland

and Antarctica Ice Sheets; however, they are declining. The Greenland Ice Shelf dramatically

demonstrates the effects of increased melting and glacier movement, rapidly losing mass. During

the year 2016, the island had experienced a higher-than-average air pressure and temperature

(see figure 2.1), along with changes in snowfall in ice thickness (see figure 2.2). The increased

melting coupled with the decreased amount of snowfall had caused an unprecedented amount of

runoff (NASA, 2015). The melting caused an approximate annual loss of 110 million Olympic

sized swimming pools worth of water, which gradually raises the ocean levels (National Snow

and Ice Data Center Staff, 2017).

Figure 2.1
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Figure 2.2

Storm Changings

Notable increase in natural disasters

The number of record high temperatures has been increasing while the number of record

low temperatures has been decreasing in the United States of America. The intensity of rain

storms has dramatically increased, where the storms have more rainfall and powerful wind.

Climate change has been affecting the intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic
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hurricanes. There was an additional increase in the frequency of Category 4 and Category 5

hurricanes, observed since the early 1980s.

These storms have increased proportional to the rising surface sea level and its

temperature. The changes in the ocean along with the changes in the atmosphere together create

disastrous hurricanes that have been wreaking havoc to the coasts (Office of Indian Energy and

Economic Development, 2005).

Carbon Emissions

Increase in greenhouse gases

The Greenhouse Effect is caused through heat being trapped in the atmosphere by

greenhouse gases, halting the release of infrared radiation from the surface. This heat being

trapped causes a temperature change proportional to the heating of the atmosphere. The primary

gas associated from human production may be carbon dioxide, other human activities release

various other heat trapping gases (methane, fluorinated gases, nitrous oxide, water vapor, etc),

but their release has not increased as shockingly as carbon dioxide (The United States

Environmental Protection Agency, 2016). What many humans consider to be daily comforts, has

increased the release of millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide (see figures 3.1).
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Figure 3.1

Ozone layer

Found within Earths stratosphere is the highly reactive resonating molecule of ozone,

composed of three oxygen atoms. The ozone layer, sitting about nine to eighteen miles above

Earths surface, serves as a protective shield against the suns ultraviolet B radiation. This

radiation is known to cause skin cancer in humans and harm animals, along with inhibiting the

reproductive cycle of phytoplankton (a vital part of the food chain), young fish, shrimp, crabs,

frogs, and salamanders. The primary cause of the destruction of ozone is chlorine, where one

chlorine molecules can react with more than a hundred thousand ozone molecules. Chlorine

levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in the late 20th and early 21st century due to the
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use of spray aerosols, which ripped holes in the ozone layer. The largest of these holes is over the

Antarctic, destroying up to 65% of the ozone layer (National Geographic, 2015).

Human Impact

Humans have historically inflicted irreversible damage to the environment. Through

deforestation (causing reduction of oxygen), poisoning of freshwater and air, and soil

degradation and erosion, they ruin the ecosystems of Earth. This planet has a natural recycling

system called the Carbon Cycle, which explains how carbon dioxide flows is stored, used,

created, and released. The plants on Earth use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, it is found in all

living creatures, and through that the dead creatures in the Earth (found in fossil fuels), along

with in the ocean (see figure 4.1). Humans have been burning fossil fuels, releasing an extreme

amount of carbon that is not yet able to be balanced out. This carbon dioxide is burned into the

atmosphere and acts as a greenhouse gas that heats our atmosphere. This heating speeds the

melting of ice sheets and causes warm temperature spikes, the pollution from aerosols destroyed

the ozone layer, and the smog and deforestation kills ecosystems. Data indicates that if damage

to the environment is not reduced, life may no longer become possible on Earth (Office of Indian

Energy and Economic Development, 2005).


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Figure 4.1

Conclusion

Earth has a delicate balance of structures and cycles, which all made life on this planet

possible. The melting of the polar ice caps, destruction of the ozone layer, warming surface

temperatures, and the worsening of storms shows that the planet is being thrown off balance.

Although some of these environmental phenomenas may be patterns, studies show they are

taking place at an alarming rate.


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References

History.com Staff. (2015). Ice Age: Facts and Summary. Ice Age. Retrieved from History.com:

http://www.history.com/topics/ice-age

NASA. (2015, January 23). NASA.gov. Retrieved from NASA Data Peers into Greenland's Ice

Sheet: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasa-data-peers-into-greenlands-ice-sheet

National Geographic. (2015). Ozone Depletion. Retrieved from NationalGeographic.org:

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/ozone-

depletion-overview/

National Snow and Ice Data Center Staff. (2017). Quick Facts on Ice Sheets. Retrieved from

National Snow and Ice Data Center:

https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/quickfacts/icesheets.html

Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development. (2005). Tribal Energy and Environmental

Information. Retrieved from What is the Carbon Cycle?:

https://teeic.indianaffairs.gov/er/carbon/carboninfo/cycle/

The United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2016, August 30). Greenhouse Gases.

Retrieved from A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change:

https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/basics/today/greenhouse-gases.html

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2016, August 2). EPA. Retrieved from Climate

Change Indicators: https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/oceans