Global Warming Effect
The weather conditions on the Earth are changeable throughout the history of our planet. The last extremely weather conditions known as the ice age were 7, 000 years ago and led to the new environment era that predicted humans existence (“Global Warming: Facts, Causes, Consequences”, 2015). Now the planet experiences new weather changes again. Most of them are the results of human activity and influence on the environment since the beginning of the industrialization process.
Scientific Warming Facts
The amount of solar energy that Earth receives was the significant reason of the majority of weather and climate changes initially. The process of warming nowadays is a human-induced process that reached its peak for the last 1,300 years (“Global Warming: Facts, Causes, Consequences”, 2015). With the help of Earth-orbiting satellites and other modern technologies the scientists received the possibility to see the general picture of the surface of our planet. They collect different types of data and information about the processes and conditions that can affect the climate. The analysis of such information detects the regularity of the changes and their dependence of variety of factors including extensive human activity.
The high level of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is among the main reasons of the greenhouse effect. The gases are important part of the atmosphere and they keep the heat released by the Sun near the Earth’s surface. However, the increased amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to the accelerated heating. The analysis of ice cores from Antarctica, Greenland and Tropical Mountain are the evidence of rapid climate changes.
The level of water in the global sea rose for about 17 centimeters in the 20th century. The highest index of such uprising belongs to the last decade.
The average temperature of the Earth’s surface is higher than it was before 1980. The last 20 years are the warmest years and the temperature continues to rise.
Higher atmosphere temperature affect the oceans. As they absorb the heat from the atmosphere the temperature of water in the oceans is also higher since data collected from 1969.
With increased temperature the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctic started melting. According to the data provided by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment the ice sheets lost approximately 650-1000 cubic kilometers of their mass between 2002 and 2006 (“Global Warming: Facts, Causes, Consequences”, 2015). The amount of the ice in Antarctica and Arctic ice rapidly decreased over last decade. Even glaciers on the peaks such as Alps, Andes, Alaska, and Rockies are retreating influenced by global warming effect. The amount of snow cover is decreasing every year over last decades. The data from satellites observation shows that the snow cover becomes thinner and melts earlier. The snowy winter season in the Northern Hemisphere becomes shorter and more mild by temperatures.
Extreme temperatures changed starting from 1950s. The number of extremely high temperatures increased, while the number of low temperature decreased. In addition there are more intensive rainfall events (“Global Warming: Facts, Causes, Consequences”, 2015).
The changes in the atmosphere lead to the changes of water conditions over the world. The surface ocean waters absorb the greenhouse gases. The higher level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of human activity (including main factor – industrialization) leads to the increased level of the acidity of the waters in the oceans.
The Greenhouse Gases
The analysis of the events and environmental changes show that main reason of the current global weather events is humans’ activity towards expansion of the warming known as “greenhouse effect.” Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide trap the heat near the earth’s surface and block it from escaping to the space. The influence of various gases is different.
Water vapor is the most plentiful of the greenhouse gases. It responds to the temperature changes physically and chemically. Water vapor is a feedback to the climate changes such as increased warm in the Earth’s atmosphere. The importance of water vapor is clouds and precipitation effect as a mechanism of response to the greenhouse effect.
Carbon dioxide is a part of the atmosphere and the result of some natural and industrial processes. Respiration and volcano eruption are the main sources of naturally produced carbon dioxide. However, human activities during last decades increased the level of released carbon dioxide by a third. Deforestation, burning fossil fuels, changes in land use, and extensive usage of different types of energy (including electricity) lead to the increasing level of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.
A hydrocarbon gas methane is also a result of natural processes and human activities. Rotting plants as a natural process release methane to the atmosphere. Agriculture, decomposition of wastes in landfills and some other domestic livestock activities lead to the production of the great amount of this gas. The greatest level of it is a result of rice cultivation. Methane is much more harmful for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but it is a less abundant component of the atmosphere and has less impact on greenhouse effect.
Another powerful greenhouse gas is nitrous oxide, the result of some soil cultivation activities which include using organic fertilizers, nitric acid production, fuel combustions, and biomass burning as alternative renewable source of energy. The part of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere is less than the part of carbon dioxide or methane. But it is also one of the greenhouse gases.
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The Consequences of Global Warming
The increased concentration of greenhouse gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere becomes the reason of greenhouse effect and global warming. With the industrialization process the amount of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released to the atmosphere extremely increased. The last decade is characterized by the highest indexes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The main reason of such changes is the increased amount of burnt coal or oil used for industry, agriculture, and other human needs (including automobile fuel). A huge amount of modern cars and other transportation requires using more oil. Burning fuel releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Such activities lead to unchangeable consequences. Some of the effects are evident.
The average temperature becomes higher. The warming effect can be positive in some regions and can lead to the negative consequences in the others. Increased temperatures lead to higher level of evaporation and precipitation. However, the distribution of moisture is not steady over the Earth’s surface. While some of the regions will suffer from too wet climate the others will become too dry. Warmer climate results in melting the glaciers and ice sheets and increasing sea level. Together with the level the temperature of the water in the world ocean increases too. Wetter climate conditions on some of the territories can become the reason of vigorous growing of some crops that will release more CO2 into the atmosphere. Favorable wet climate conditions promote the spreading of the crops on new territories. However, shifting climate patterns can affect natural plants communities and as the result changes in the population of the animals on different territories.
The potential long-term consequences of the global warming include long periods of drought on some territories, more frequent wildfires, and more intensive tropical storms which lead to more destructions. The further changes in precipitation include the increased numbers of them on particular areas while its level decreases on the other territories. The number and the intensity of the heat waves become higher while cold waves become less intensive on most of the territories. Summer temperatures are rising and influence the temperature of the water in the oceans and seas. The speed of the changes is also increasing every year and leads to new changes and greater influence on the environment.
The differences of temperatures and high temperature regimes provoke hurricanes. With the increased overall temperatures the intensity of the hurricanes and the power they have also increase. The soot released in the process of burning organic matter produces heavy thunderstorms and hailstorms as the result of deeper and taller clouds. Increased pollution and higher temperatures help more water condense onto aerosols in the storms. The energy releases into the increased heat. That heat makes a cloud deeper and bigger and the storms more powerful. Hurricane Katarina became the evidence of changed power of the hurricanes within last years. The destructions as a result of such storms became greater too. The rainfalls and the storms become more often and more destructive.
The level of the global see has risen within last two centuries. With intensive rainfalls and melting ice sheets the water level in the oceans is rising faster and faster especially last decades. According to the observations provided the global see becomes eight inches higher than it was in the 1880. It will rise for more two – four feet till 2100 (“Global Warming: Facts, Causes, Consequences”, 2015). Moreover, high sea level in combination with powerful storms and high tides causes increased flooding in many regions. That will cause new rising of the water in the global sea. The further warming of the water in the ocean will continue the process and lead to higher level of the sea for many centuries. The speed of the changes can be equal or higher the one we have now.
The Importance of Human Intervention
Industrialization and extensive usage of energy sources are among the main reasons of dangerous ecological changes and global warming effect (“Renewable Energy Sources,” 2010). Air pollution as the most dangerous ecological problem is among the consequences of human intervention to the nature. Air pollution from plants, vehicles and wildfires reacts with increased heat and sunlight. In big cities with intensive transportation it forms smog (Seamans, 2008). Smog pollution lead to health problems of the citizens of the cities. It also causes higher temperatures and less number of clouds because water can not rise high enough to reach the conditions and condense. The smoke from burning wild territories or fields worsen the air conditions because it provokes releasing more carbon dioxide into the air.
The air pollution problem became more evident with the invention of sprays. Theoretically aerosols provoke the intensity of the clouds and make them thicker because the particles from aerosols help the water vapor to condense. Clouds keep the surface of the Earth cooler. However, the changes of the temperature regime makes the air dry and it has lack of water in it to make clouds. One more danger for the air that have impact on the global warming is plastic. Due to long period of its service a lot of plastic masses should be destroyed to avoid global littering (“What is Littering?” n.d.). The most common way of its destruction is burning. However, burning plastic is one of the most dangerous elements for the environment. It decomposes to toxic substances which release extremely toxic hydrogen cyanide. Together with dioxins, styrene, and heavy metals it releases to the atmosphere, leads to respiratory diseases and further warming.
The Regional Effects of the Global Warming
Different regions react the global warming in different ways. Northeast regions react with heat waves and heavy downpours. It has impact on the infrastructure and agriculture of the cities in the region. Changes in the sea level, erosion and increased ocean acidity provoke more wildfires, tree diseases, and insect outbreaks in the Northwest. The increased sea level in the Southeast provokes problems in the agriculture and affects environment and economy. More often wildfires and reduced agricultural territories are among the results of the global warming effect in the Southwest nowadays.