Elements of the Climate System

Energy from the Sun drives the Earth's weather and climate. The atmospheric gases are nitrogen, oxygen, and the trace gases, including the noble gases and the greenhouse gases (water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, ozone, and nitrous oxide). These greenhouse gases trap some of the energy from the Sun, creating a natural greenhouse effect, without which normal temperatures would be much lower and the Earth would be too cold to live on. Thanks to the greenhouse effect, the Earth's average...

El Nino

The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is a global mechanism that is caused by the large-scale interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. The Southern Oscillation (a more recent discovery) refers to an oscillation in the surface pressure (atmospheric mass) between the southeastern tropical Pacific and the Australian-Indonesian regions. When the waters in the eastern Pacific are abnormally warm referred to as an El Ni o event sea level pressure drops in the eastern Pacific and...

THE Great oCEAN CoNVEYoR BELT

The ocean waters are constantly moving from winds that create waves and the pulling of gravity, which causes the tides. One of the most significant features in the ocean is the thermohaline circulation, commonly referred to as the great ocean conveyor belt. This massive, continuous loop of flow plays a critical role in determining the climate of the world. The two mechanisms that make this conveyor belt work are heat and salt. The great conveyor belt plays a major part in distributing the Sun's...

The Earths Energy

Chapter 3 illustrated how the Earth's energy drives plate tectonics, affecting CO2 levels and interactions with air masses in the atmosphere. Related to this, the energy of volcanoes can also affect climate because volcanoes emit both aerosols and CO2 into the atmosphere. When a volcano erupts, it can send ash and sulfate gases to great heights in the atmosphere. If the sulfate combines with water, it produces tiny droplets of sulfuric acid, called aerosols. Aerosols are very small solid...

The Force That Drives The Tectonic Plates

Tectonic plates do not randomly drift or wander about the Earth's surface definite, yet unseen, forces drive them. Scientists believe that the relatively shallow forces driving lithospheric plates are also working with forces that originate much deeper in the Earth. From seismic and other geographical evidence and laboratory experiments, scientists generally agree with Harry Hess's theory that the plate-driving force is the slow movement of the hot, softened mantle that lies below the rigid...

Ocean Circulation

Global Ocean Conveyor Belt

At the surface, ocean currents are driven by the winds, which make the surface water move parallel to the predominant wind direction, except The surface ocean circulation transports heat globally, maintaining temperatures and supporting marine life. The principal warm and cool currents control climate locally, regionally, and globally. where continental landmasses exist and block its movement. Water also moves vertically in the ocean depths. There are two factors that make water more dense...

Warming

Interactive Forces of Global Warming Interactive Forces of Global Warming CLIMATE SYSTEMS Interactive Forces of Global Warming Copyright 2009 by Julie Kerr Casper, Ph.D. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact Facts On File, Inc. An imprint of...

Axial Tilt

Axial tilt, or the tilt of the Earth's axis, is the second of the Milanko-vitch cycles. This is the inclination of the Earth's axis in relation to its plane of orbit around the Sun. If the Earth were not tilted, there would be no seasons. The seasons are created by the change in length of daylight hours. As the seasons progress, the daylight hours get shorter (in winter) or longer (in summer) and the noon Sun changes its altitude in the sky (high altitude in the summer, low in the winter)....

Climate FoRCINGpoSitive And Negative Feedback

The Earth's heat budget is controlled by the amount of energy it receives from the Sun and subsequently returns to space. The Earth's global energy balance is maintained when the incoming energy from the Sun is balanced with the outgoing heat from the Earth. There are mechanisms that cause the Earth's energy budget to get out of balance. Then it can result in climate change. There are several mechanisms that can change the Earth's energy balance in either a positive or negative way. Some of...

Climate And Weather

The distinguishing factors between weather and climate are (1) the time interval in which they are taking place (such as a day versus a season) and (2) the scale of the area they are taking place over (such as a village versus a country). Weather is what the atmosphere is currently doing-snowing, raining, or clear skies. Climate is how the atmosphere behaves over relatively long time intervals-such as hot summers, cool winters, or wet springs. Climate also refers to the average condition of a...

The Atmospheres Structure

The atmosphere can be thought of as a thin layer of gases that surround the Earth. The two major elements nitrogen and oxygen make up 99 percent of the volume of the atmosphere. The remaining 1 percent is composed of what are referred to as trace gases. The trace gases include water vapor, methane, argon, carbon dioxide, and ozone. Although they only make up a small portion of the atmosphere, the trace gases are very important. Water vapor in the atmosphere is variable Arid regions may have...

Lake Effect

Another local weather phenomenon is called the lake effect. Lake effect is an episode of heavy winter snowfall that can occur when a mass of cold Arctic air moves over a body of warmer water. This creates an unstable system. The storm pulls moisture from the body of water, which freezes The windward side of a slope in an orographic wind flow pattern receives the greater share of the moisture from an air mass being pushed up and over a mountain barrier. Vegetation on this side is lusher....

Control of Co2 by uplift and Weathering

This theory looks at natural uplift and weathering of the Earth's surface features as the determining factor of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and therefore potential global warming. When land is uplifted, geologic forces go to work on it to erode and wear the land down a process called weathering. The Earth's surface can be uplifted in several different ways. Earthquakes can fracture, fault, and uplift large sections of the Earth's crust. Plate tectonics can also create mountains and high...

Federal agencies studying climate

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) was established in the 1980s by the U.S. National Weather Service. It is the agency that forecasts the El Ni o and La Ni a events in the tropical Pacific. It provides forecasts of climate change as well as real-time monitoring of climatic events by monitoring the atmosphere, the land, and the ocean, supplying vital data for industries, such as transportation, energy, health, water resources, and agriculture. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration...

The Polar Position Hypothesis

This idea was suggested early on and said that ice sheets should appear on continents when they are located at polar, or near-polar, locations (high latitudes). If there were not any continents near the North or South Poles, then no ice should exist anywhere on Earth. This theory only takes into effect movement of the continents through plate tectonics. While this theory has proven true for many demonstrated time intervals in the past, it has not always been true. Today is one example. There...

The Roles Of Variable Seawater Density Temperature And Salinity

In the world's oceans, the properties of density, temperature, and salinity (salt content) all work together and result in distinct characteristics that ultimately relate to climate change and global warming. Solar energy is absorbed by seawater and stored as heat in the oceans. Some of the energy that is absorbed may evaporate seawater, which increases its temperature and salinity. When a substance is heated, it expands and its density is lowered. Conversely, when a substance is cooled, its...

The Carbon Cyclenatural V Human Amplification

Carbon Cycle

Thus, the carbon cycle is extremely important. It also plays a critical role in global warming. Carbon dioxide enters the air during the carbon cycle. Because of its abundance, it enters from several sources. Vast amounts of carbon are stored in the Earth's soils, oceans, and sediments at the bottoms of oceans. Carbon is stored in the Earth's rocks and released when they erode. It exists in all living matter. Every time animals and plants breathe, they exhale CO2. When examining the Earth's...

Svante arrhenius 18591927 swedish chemist

Svante Arrhenius was the first scientist to predict that the climate was changing because of human activities. With the Industrial Revolution gaining momentum, in 1896 he discovered that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was increasing. He predicted that CO2 concentrations would increase along with the increase of fossil fuels being used by industry. At that time, coal was the principal fossil fuel used. It was considered a dirty fuel, adding substantial amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. He...

The Growth Of Environmental Awareness

Valley The Drums

Another factor that has helped focus attention on global warming in recent years is the growth of environmental awareness. Over the last few decades, there have been several notable anthropogenic environmental disasters. These have made the public more aware of environmental damage sometimes permanent. One of the worst anthropogenic disasters was the explosion at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, USSR, on April 26, 1986. A reactor exploded during a failed cooling system test and ignited a...

Facts about climate change

The Earth's climate has changed significantly over the last century. Scientists have found irrefutable evidence of global warming. As scientists study this evidence and use the information to build computer models, their goal is to be able to better understand how humans are not only affecting the Earth's climate today, but also how they will in the future. The many things they do know about climate change include Current CO2 levels are higher than anytime in the last 420,000 years. The Earth's...

Regional Wind Systems

Differences in atmospheric pressure are what cause the wind to blow. Pressure differences also called pressure gradients can happen at many scales. They can be global or local, but no matter what size, they develop because of differences in heating and cooling of the Earth's surface. It is the heating cooling cycles that happen on a daily basis that cause many of the local wind systems. Air flows from high pressure to low pressure. This pressure gradient is set up when an area of land receives...

The Hydrologic Cycle

Hydrosphere Lithosphere Atmosphere

The hydrologic (water) cycle, like other cycles, plays a direct role in the function of healthy ecosystems. The hydrologic cycle describes the movement of all the water on Earth. It has no starting point and involves the existence and movement of water on, in, and above the Earth. The Earth's water is always moving and changing states from liquid to vapor to ice and back again. This cycle has been in operation for billions of years, and all life depends on its existence. Many scientists are...

The mauna loa

Scientists first began to suspect that fossil fuels were contributing to global warming in the mid-1950s. Roger Revelle, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, used the metaphor that humans were using the Earth's atmosphere to carry out a giant experiment one significant enough to potentially alter the Earth's climate. As scientists became interested in studying CO2 and the ways in which it interacts with the atmosphere, the biosphere, the lithosphere, and the oceans, a working...

What Scientists Know Speculate And Do Not Know About Global Warming

Because the Earth's climate is a huge, complicated system of many components (such as atmospheric temperature, humidity, wind systems, ocean currents, and the influence of topography) at many different scales (local, regional, and global), there are many things scientists do know about global warming, but there are also some things they still do not know. According to the EPA there are three things scientists do know about global warming. 1. They know for certain that human activities are...

Global energy balance

Interactions between energy from the Sun, the Earth, and the atmosphere all have an effect on the Earth. This is called the global energy balance, an energy balance that also plays a role in climate. Because this energy balance has changed and, as a result, the atmosphere is retaining more heat, the process of global warming is already in full swing. The global energy balance regulates the state of the Earth's climate. Modifications to it forcings can be by natural sources or human sources, and...

Nasas extratropical storm tracks atlas

Climate scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have developed a database available online that displays the extratropical storm tracks that occurred between 1961 and 1998, allowing visitors to find out what the weather was like on the day they were born or any other day in the featured time span. The original purpose for the creation of the climate atlas was to look back and try to assess the impact of global warming on storms. The online atlas plots the paths of...

The Earths Rotation And The Coriolis Force

When pressure differences alone are responsible for moving air, the air or wind will be pushed in a straight path. For example, if someone opens a door into an enclosed space containing a different air pressure, they will feel a rush of air when the door is opened and the air travels from higher pressure to lower pressure. It may seem odd when looking at satellite weather maps to see that large storm clouds move in circular patterns. Winds do follow curved paths across the Earth. Named after...

Control of Co2 by Seafloor Spreading

The seafloor spreading theory is one hypothesis introduced to suggest a mechanism of controlled CO2 levels in the atmosphere, causing the observed variations between warm CO2-rich greenhouse intervals and cold CO2-depleted global cooling intervals. This theory focuses the control of CO2 levels on plate tectonic processes. During plate tectonics, carbon is cycled endlessly between the Earth's interior and its surface. It is this cycling of carbon in different stages that defines whether global...

Articles

Climate Scientists Issue Dire Warning. Guardian, February 28, 2006. Presents new evidence concerning the ramifications of global warming. Alley, Richard B. Abrupt Climate Change. Scientific American 291, no. 5 November 2004 62-69. Discusses the great ocean conveyor belt and how global warming could shut it down and trigger another ice age. Appenzeller, Tim. The Big Thaw National Geographic June 2007 58-71. An overview of global melting and what that means for the future. Applebome,...