Water vapor is also considered a greenhouse gas. This is the gaseous form of liquid water, and is enormously abundant in the atmosphere, much more than other GHGs. There have been a lot of research arguments on the impact of water vapor on the atmosphere, but over the years, it has come to be known as the most important greenhouse gas. It strongly absorbs thermal radiation with wavelengths less than eight |im and greater than 18 |im.

halocarbon gases

Another group of greenhouse gases, the halocarbon gases (CFCs) are synthetic-anthropogenic molecules that contain chlorine, fluorine, and carbon atoms bonded together. They add greatly to the atmosphere's heat-absorbing ability by actively absorbing radiation in the atmospheric radiative window of seven to 12 |im. They are non-soluble, inert, and have long stability period, capable of being broken up by photolysis to release chlorine, which in turn damage the ozone layer. Of all the chlorofluorocar-bons, the significant CFCs are CFC-11 (trichloroflu-oromethane) and CFC-12 (dichlorofluoromethane). The atmospheric residence time of CFC-12 is 102 years and its 100-year GWP relative to CO2 is about 8,500, while CFC-11 has stability period of 50 years and a 20-years GWP of 5,000. Some countries like the United States and Sweden have taken steps to reduce the quantity of CFCs in the atmosphere in line with the Montreal protocol.

There are other gases that adversely affect the Earth's atmosphere, creating global warming concerns. Such gases include per-fluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and pollutants such as SO2. SO2, on the other hand, is a gas that emanates as a result of human activities from combustion of coal and the exhaust of cars. It acts to cool the atmosphere, contrary to other GHGs, however, its effects as a regulatory gas to the global warming effects of the GHGs is limited by its life span on the Earth's surface, which is not more than a week.

global warming effects

Human-induced warming over recent decades is already affecting many physical and biological processes on a global scale. Major research findings have pointed to changes in climate temperature, including increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level. Due to this changing climatic condition, much of the world's population is expected to face serious water shortages by the turn of the century, food production is expected to decline in low-altitude areas, and desertification will lead to food shortages. There are reported cases of increased intensity of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic within the past 25-30 years, and storms with heavy precipitation have also increased. Mountain glaciers, snow cover, and Arctic sea ice have also fallen.

The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in April 2007 reveals that the ris ing temperature of the global environment may result in the altered spatial distribution of some infectious disease vectors, meaning that the rate of transmission of such disease like malaria in Africa and other parts of the world could increase. It is also reported that diseases such as those carried by insects, ticks, and other insect vectors are likely to be affected by environmental changes because these creatures are themselves very sensitive to vegetation, temperature changes, humidity, and rainfall.

There is the likelihood of continuous enhanced coastal erosion, increased farming seasons, increased plant growth, and increased flooding as currently observed in different parts of Asia, western Europe, and west Africa. There would also be more hot days and nights, and extreme variations in the amount of rainfall across the globe, where high altitude and generally wet places will tend to receive more rainfall, while tropical regions and generally dry places will probably receive less rain. This increase in rainfall will come in the form of more rainy days; in between these periods there will be longer periods of light or no rain, bringing about increasing frequency of drought. Hurricanes will also probably increase due to warmer ocean surface temperature.

Animal and plant species have begun dying off or changing sooner than predicted because of global warming. Global warming might spark the mass extinction of endangered species, eroding biodiversity. Several scientific reports have pointed to trends of animal populations moving northward as a result of alteration to their natural habitat; of species adapting slightly because of climate change; of plants blooming earlier; and of an increase in pests and parasites.

Global warming will potentially stifle life-giving microscopic plants that live in the surface layer of the marine ecosystems, thereby cutting marine food production and accelerating climate change. Phytoplank-ton are not only the foundation of the marine food chain, but every day they take more than 100 million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere. As global warming raises the surface layer of the ocean, it becomes lighter and, therefore, separated from the cooler depths from which the phytoplanktons get many of their nutrients. This reduces their assemblage, not only reducing the food in the oceans, but also reducing the amount of CO2 they take from the air and, therefore, accelerating the climate warming process.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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