4.3 Climate Change v3.0 BW 2016

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New Year 2150?:

Why might climate change mean that San Francisco and other major cities could become flooded in the future? New Year 2150?

What is climate? :

Climate is the average weather for a region over a long period of time, usually 30 years. What is climate? Climate is not the same as weather. What is the difference? Weather is the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place. It is measured in terms of factors such as temperature, rainfall, humidity and cloudiness. One way to remember the difference is that “ climate is what you expect, weather is what you get ”. Weather can change several times a day; the climate normally takes a long time to change. What would happen if the climate changed quickly?

Is the climate always the same?:

Is the climate always the same? For example, paintings and diaries provide information about the ‘Little Ice Age’. This was a period of cooling from about 1300 to 1850. Many glaciers increased in size, crops were lost and major rivers, such as the Thames, regularly froze. Systematic recording of weather data has only occurred since the 19 th century. These and other records have shown that the climate does naturally change over time. Before the ‘Little Ice Age’, there was an unusually warm period known as the ‘Medieval Warm Period’, which lasted for about eight centuries.

What is climate change?:

What is climate change? What could be causing this and should we be concerned? Scientists have predicted that the climate could increase by up to 6 ° C in the next 150 years. Climate change is a natural phenomenon and normally takes place over several centuries. The term ‘climate change’ is being used now to refer to the current climate. This is because recent scientific records show that the global climate seems to be warming up more rapidly than usual. The average global temperature has increased by 0.6 ° C in 140 years. The ten hottest years for the last 100 years have occurred since 1990.

Impacts of climate change :

Impacts of climate change

How is the Earth warmed?:

How is the Earth warmed? Having some greenhouse gases is a good thing. If it wasn’t for these gases, Earth would be too cold to live on! Climate is affected by the conditions and components of the atmosphere. Sunlight passes through the Earth’s atmosphere and the Earth gives out infrared radiation. Certain gases trap some of this radiation in the atmosphere, which keeps the Earth warm. This is called the greenhouse effect . The Earth’s atmosphere acts like the glass in a greenhouse and is needed to keep the planet warm enough for life to exist. However, too much of a good thing can be bad.


The greenhouse effect

The greenhouse effect:

The greenhouse effect

How hot can the greenhouse effect get? :

How hot can the greenhouse effect get? The planet Venus is further from the Sun than Mercury but has an higher average temperature. Its surface can reach up to 482 ° C, which is hot enough to melt lead! Venus’ atmosphere is mostly made up of carbon dioxide, which traps so much of the solar radiation that the planet becomes extremely hot. The hostile climate conditions on Venus make it impossible for life to survive.

Greenhouse gases:

Greenhouse gases

What is global warming? :

What is global warming? The term ‘ global warming ’ is often used in connection with climate change, but what does it mean? Global warming refers to the increase in the Earth’s temperature due to the greenhouse effect, which can cause changes in climate. However, the term ‘global warming is now being used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases and other human activities. This enhanced greenhouse effect may lead to significant climate change. Remember, global warming and climate change are not the same thing and should not be used interchangeably.

Why is carbon dioxide so important? :

Why is carbon dioxide so important? Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased since the industrial revolution in the 19 th century. Carbon dioxide is considered the most significant greenhouse gas . Any process producing carbon dioxide today could affect the climate for hundreds of years. Carbon is present in all living things and moves through the environment in a chain of reactions called the carbon cycle . This is because carbon dioxide can remain in the environment over a long time, from 50 to 200 years. How might human activities have contributed to this?

What is the carbon cycle?:

What is the carbon cycle?

Carbon dioxide in the carbon cycle:

Carbon dioxide in the carbon cycle

What happens when fossil fuels are burned? :

What happens when fossil fuels are burned? Fossil fuels are carbon-based materials that formed over millions of years from the remains of ancient plants and animals. Greater use of fossil fuels is thought to be the main source of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Should the use of fossil fuels be limited? How would this affect our lifestyles? Fossil fuels are burned to generate heat. This combustion reaction creates carbon dioxide and water as waste products. water fossil fuels + oxygen  carbon dioxide +

What else affects greenhouse gas levels?:

What else affects greenhouse gas levels? Burning wood releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Rice farming and cattle farming produce the greenhouse gas methane. Living trees also have a major impact on the atmosphere, as they produce oxygen and absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Deforestation reduces the amount of photosynthesis taking place and so increases carbon dioxide levels. This gas is 7.5 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but is currently in the atmosphere at much lower levels.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels:

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels

Data from ice cores:

Data from ice cores

How different are carbon dioxide levels today? :

How different are carbon dioxide levels today? Around 200 years ago, carbon dioxide levels were about 280 ppm and are now about 380 ppm. These graphs show how carbon dioxide concentrations have changed over time. 400 0 100 200 300 CO 2 conc. (ppm) years before present (thousands) 400 300 200 100 0 year How might this affect the climate? 0 400 2000 1960 1980 300 200 100 CO 2 conc. (ppm) According to records, this is about 27% more than at any time in the last 400,000 years.

Temperature change:

Temperature change

Are temperature and carbon dioxide related? :

Are temperature and carbon dioxide related? 1861 2001 1941 difference from average temp. ( ° C) 0.6 0 0.4 0.2 -0.2 -0.4 -0.6 year The global average temperature has increased at the same time as the levels of carbon dioxide have risen. However, it is not correct to say that carbon dioxide levels have caused this temperature change, because there are other factors involved. be discussed? 0 400 2000 1960 1980 300 200 100 CO 2 conc. (ppm) year How should the data

How should I talk about the climate data?:

How should I talk about the climate data? Collected data shows that temperature and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased at the same time. It might seem to make sense to say that the rise in carbon dioxide is causing the temperature rise but this is incorrect. How do you know that it is not the temperature increase that is causing carbon dioxide levels to rise? Can you say for certain that carbon dioxide is the only factor in the change of temperature? It is important to be very careful about the words used to discuss scientific data. It is more correct to say that there appears to be a positive relationship between carbon dioxide levels and temperature.

How is climate change predicted? :

How is climate change predicted? Scientists use experiments to explore how things works and test predictions. However, the climate is far too large and too complicated to be reproduced in a laboratory. Instead, computer models are used to represent the climate and explore the possible effects of human actions. In models, the Earth is divided into grid squares. Using smaller squares increases the detail. Mathematical formulae are used to represent the separate parts of the climate system and how they interact.

How is the climate modelled?:

How is the climate modelled? There are many factors that can affect the climate. All these interactions need to be included in climate models. volcanoes radiation from the Earth radiation from the Sun ice on land ice in the sea atmosphere seas and oceans land rivers and lakes precipitation evaporation transpiration

How can I help predict climate change? :

How can I help predict climate change? Instead of using one supercomputer, lots of smaller computers are used to run climate models. This is called ‘distributed computing’. Climateprediction.net is a climate modelling program that can be run from home and school computers. The project has been running since 2004 and uses over 90,000 computers worldwide. These globes show the results of simulations to predict how the temperature may change in response to greenhouse gases.

How accurate are climate models? :

How accurate are climate models? Within a small section of the scientific community there is still some scepticism about the accuracy of the predictions produced using climate models. It is difficult to model aspects of the climate like clouds. Cloud cover greatly influences surface temperature. Not including clouds in models could reduce their accuracy. Climate models do not measure local variability well. To predict the contribution of humans to climate change, the models have to make assumptions about population and economic growth. This could cause prediction errors. How are climate researchers trying to solve these problems? Arguments against using climate models include:

How are climate models tested? :

How are climate models tested? Data from previous climates, such as the 20 th century, is entered into the model. This tests the ability of the model to reproduce known climates. Climate change researchers take several steps to make model predictions more reliable. Scientists usually report a range of projections or scenarios. These can show, for example, how the climate might change if human carbon dioxide production stays the same, if it decreases or if it increases. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a UN organization that is responsible for assessing climate change data. They use information from different computer models to write reports for governments about the science of climate change.

What climate changes are predicted?:

What climate changes are predicted? Using data from several key sources, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have made the following projections about climate change. Key projections are that by 2100: Mean global temperature will have increased by 1.4 to 5.8 ° C. Sea levels will rise by 0.09 m  0.88 m. There will be more precipitation (rain, snow, hail, etc.) over the northern hemisphere. There will be more hot days and fewer cold days. How should we respond to these projections?

Opinions on climate change:

Opinions on climate change

Reporting climate change:

Reporting climate change

Why not just wait and see what happens?:

Why not just wait and see what happens? If predictions about the human impact on climate change are correct, the results will be widespread and devastating. If we delay taking action, it is likely to become impossible to avoid or reverse these climate changes. The precautionary principle advises that a lack of scientific certainty is not an argument against taking action when there is a serious threat. This can be applied to climate change. Some effects of climate change may not take place for decades. Would it be better to wait before taking action? Rising sea levels would flood many major cities. Decreasing rainfalls in Africa could affect 70% of the continent’s population, leading to widespread famine.

Tackling climate change:

Tackling climate change

Climate change – true or false?:

Climate change – true or false?

Multiple-choice quiz:

Multiple-choice quiz


Glossary carbon cycle – The movement of carbon and carbon compounds through the atmosphere and ecosystem. climate – The average weather pattern for a region over a long period of time, usually 30 years. climate change – A significant variation in the long-term weather patterns for a region. global warming – An increase in the average temperature of Earth. greenhouse effect – The trapping of infrared radiation by the Earth’s atmosphere, which makes the temperature warmer than it would be otherwise. greenhouse gas – An atmospheric gas that can trap infrared radiation . proxy record – A natural or indirect record of climate.

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