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13 Atmosphere and Climate Change

13.1 Climate and Climate Change

Weather state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time Climate long term weather conditions at a particular place

What factors determine climate?

Latitude distance from the equator north or south determines the amount of solar energy that reaches an area of earth
Low lat receive more solar energy, the energy is more concentrated, day and night equal in length temps high all year High lat amount of solar energy is reduced and less concentrated, yearly average temps are low

Atmospheric circulation
Cold air is more dense and sinks, as it sinks it is warmed Warm air rises and can hold more water vapor, as air rises it cools and some water vapor may form rain, snow, or fog

Solar energy heats the ground and the ground heats the air Wind movement of air created when warm air rises and cool air moves in to replace it, circulation patterns are created by the rotation of the earth

Global air circulation patterns pg 353

Prevailing winds blow in predominantly one direction Rotation of the earth deflects these winds to the right in the NH and to the left in the SH Trade Winds 0 to 30 degrees N and S Prevailing Westerlies 30 to 60 deg N and S Polar Easterlies 60 to 90 deg N and S

Oceanic Circulation patterns Water holds a great deal of heat so ocean currents have a big effect on climate Winds and the rotation of the earth cause the movement of surface ocean currents El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) periodic change in the location of warm and cold water masses in the Pacific
El Nino (warm phase) winds in western pacific push warm water eastward, produces increased rainfall in Southern half of US and South America, drought in Indonesia and Australia La Nina (cold phase) water in eastern pacific is cooler than usual

Topography height above sea level temp decrease by 6 deg C for every 1,000 m rise Mountain ranges rain shadow effect
windward side rainy, warm air rises and cools and created precip (western side) leeward side dry, cold air sinks and gets warmer (eastern side)

Seasonal Changes in Climate Cause for the seasons tilt of the earth on its axis changes the angle at the which the suns rays hit the surface of the earth as it moves around the sun Northern Hemisphere
Summer tilted toward sun, longer and warmer days Winter tilted away from sun, shorter and cooler days

Opposite for SH

13.2 The Ozone Shield

Ozone layer area in stratosphere where ozone is highly concentrated Ozone molecule of 3 oxygen atoms Absorbs harmful UV light from the sun Chemicals that cause ozone depletion CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)
Broken apart in stratosphere by uv radiation, Cl bonds with oxygen and keeps more ozone molecules from forming

The Ozone Hole

What is it? A thinning of stratospheric ozone over the north and south poles Based on data starting in 1979 from weather satellites and research in Antartica How does the hole form? Formed within polar stratospheric clouds which convert CFCs into chlorine molecules, in spring the uv rays split apart the chlorine molecules into single chlorine atoms which then destroy ozone

Ozone Hole cont.

Effects of thinning ozone hole on humans- more harmful uv light reaches the earths surface UV light damages DNA, increases chance of skin cancer and other health issues Effects on plants and animals High levels of UV light can kill phytoplankton, disrupting ecosystems and increasing CO2 can be especially damaging to amphibians Can interfere with photosynthesis in plants

Protecting the Ozone Layer

1987 Montreal Protocol
Nations agreed to limit production of CFCs

1992 Denmark nations agreed to elliminate most CFCc by 1995 US banned all substances harmful to ozone by 2000 CFCs remain in stratosphere for 60-120 yrs

13.3 Global Warming

Greenhouse Effect sunlight passes through the atmosphere as light energy and is absorbed by the earth, the earth radiates the heat energy out into the air and some of it is absorbed, warming the earth Greenhouse gases gases in the atmosphere that absorb heat from the earth
Water vapor, carbon dioxide, CFCs, methane, oxides Mostly water vapor and carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide levels

Vary through the year
Summer: decreased levels due to plant activity Winter: increased due to dying plants

Rising levels
Increase over 20% in the last 50 years Due largely to emissions from burning fossil fuels

Earths Temp more greenhouse gases near surface will increase global temps

Global Warming
An increase in the average temp at the earths surface The rise in average temp correlates in the rise in levels of greenhouse gases Hypothesis the rise in greenhouse gases has caused the rise in average temp
Well supported by thousands of experiments and computer models

Other possibilities natural climatic variability Modeling global warming computer models use equations and current data to predict future changes
Models are not always completely accurate

Consequences of a warmer earth

Melting ice, rising sea levels Polar landmasses are melting causing sea levels to rise
Could cause flooding of coastal wetlands and low-lying areas, beach erosion, altering of salinity levels in bays, estuaries and freshwater aquifers

Global weather patterns altered by warmer ocean waters

More hurricanes and typhoons Change in ocean current patterns Can alter total amount of rainfall received around the world

Human health problems more heat related illnesses, longer allergy seasons, more diseases transmitted by insects like mosquitos

Consequences cont.
Agriculture effected by extreme weather events like droughts, could increase demand for water Effects on plants and animals
alter the range and composition of plant and animal communities Shift in geographical range of animals Some species could be eliminated due to warmer temps

Recent Findings
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chage (IPCC)network of 2,500 of the worlds leading climatologists
TAR Third Assessment Report describes current global climate and makes future estimates for the global climate Findings:
Global temp up .6d C during the 20th century Snow cover and ice extent has decreased Average global sea level has risen Levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases continues to increase

Reducing the Risk

1997 160 countries set timetables for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases Kyoto Protocol treaty that requires developed countries to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases by 5% of 1990 levels by 2012
Has to be ratified by 55% of attending countries US has not ratified it while most other countries have