You are on page 1of 28

Chapter 21

Global Climate Change

Overview of Chapter 21
Introduction to Climate Change
Causes of Global Climate Change
Effects of Climate Change
Melting Ice and Rising Sea Level
Changes in Precipitation Patterns
Effects on Organisms
Effects on Human Health
Effects on Agriculture
Dealing with Global Climate Change
Climate Change Terminology
Greenhouse Gas
Gas that absorbs infrared radiation
Positive Feedback
Change in some condition triggers a response that
intensifies the changed condition
Infrared Radiation
Radiation that has a wavelength that is longer than that
of visible light, but shorter than that of radio waves
Greenhouse Effect
Increase of heat in a system where energy enters
(often as light), is absorbed as heat, and released
sometime later
Introduction to Climate Change
Evidence for Climate Change
14 warmest years since mid-1800s have
occurred since 1990
Phenological spring in N. hemisphere now
begins 6 days earlier
Warming is not due to natural causes
Human produced greenhouse gases are most
plausible explanation
Introduction to Climate Change:
Mean Annual Global
Temperature 19602007
Causes of Climate Change
Greenhouse gas concentrations increasing
Causes of Climate Change
concentration of CO2
Burning fossil fuels in
cars, industry and
Burning of forests
Greenhouse Effect
Pollutants That Cool the
Atmospheric Aerosols
Both human and natural sources
Tiny particles that remain in troposphere for
weeks or months
Often contain sulfur
Complicates models of climate change
Climate Models
Climate affected by:
winds, clouds, ocean currents, and albedo
Used to explore past climate events
Advanced models can project future
warming events
Models are only as good as the data and
law used to program them
They have limitations
Climate Models
Effects of Global Climate Change
Wildfire in California
Effects of Global Climate Change:
Melting Ice and Rising Sea Levels
Sea level rise caused in 2 ways
Thermal Expansion
Melting of land ice
Melting has positive feedback
Increased melting decreases ice, which
decreases albedo leading to further warming
Melting Ice and Rising Sea Levels



Glacier National Park

Case-In-Point Impacts in Fragile
Eskimo Inuit live
traditional life
dictated by freezing
Climate change is
altering their existence
Wildlife displaced
Reduced snow cover and shorter river ice
Thawing of permafrost (right)
Effects of Global Climate Change:
Changing Precipitation Patterns
Some areas will get more water, some
areas will have greater droughts
Effects of Global Climate Change:
Effects on Organisms
Zooplankton in parts of California Current
have decreased by 80% since 1951
Effecting entire food chain
Decline in krill around Antarctica
Species have shifted their geographic
Migrating birds are returning to summer
homes earlier
Effects on Organisms: Coral Reefs
Coral reefs can be bleached (right) due to
increase in water temperature
Affects coral symbiotes and makes them more
susceptible to diseases
Effect on Organisms: Vegetation
Effect on Organisms: Vegetation
Effects on Human Health
Increased number of heat-related illnesses
and deaths
Effects on Agriculture
Difficult to anticipate
Productivity will increase in some areas and decrease
in others
Rise in sea level will inundate flood plains and
river valleys (lush farmland)
Effect on pests is unknown
Warmer temperatures will decrease soil moisture-
requiring more irrigation
Location (i.e. elevation and altitude) where
certain crops can be grown may have to change
International Implications of
Climate Change
Developed vs.
Differing self-
Differing ability
to meet the
challenges of
climate change
Dealing with Global Climate
Two ways to manage climate change
Mitigation: Limiting greenhouse gas emissions
to moderate global climate change
Adaptation: Learning to live with
environmental changes and societal
consequences brought about by global
climate change
Relationship Between Mitigation
and Adaptation
Dealing with Global Climate
Change: Mitigation
Locate/invent alternative fuels to fossil
Increase efficiency of cars and trucks
Carbon Capture and Storage
Plant and Maintain trees to naturally
sequester carbon
Dealing with Global Climate
Change: Adaptation
Rising sea levels and coastal populations
Move inland
Construct dikes and levees
Adapt to shifting agricultural zones
NYC sewer line
International Efforts to Reduce
Greenhouse Gas Emission
Kyoto Protocol
Legally binding
Provides operational rules on reducing
greenhouse gases
US and Australia have not sign it - it will be
difficult to implement without US backing