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Atmosphere, Climate and Global Warming


Horse latitudes: ~ 30o N and S, high pressure, descending ... Sea level will rise with global warming. It is already rising at a rate of 2.5-3.0 mm per year. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Atmosphere, Climate and Global Warming

Atmosphere, Climate and Global Warming
Whats In the Atmosphere?
  • Nitrogen gas 78.
  • Oxygen 21.
  • Remaining 1
  • Argon (0.9)
  • Carbon dioxide (0.03)
  • Trace gases and particulates (0.07).

Whats in the Atmosphere?
  • Water vapor constitutes from 1-4 of the
  • Life on Earth depends on three basic physical
    conditions of the atmosphere
  • Gases at the right ratio and pressure
  • Appropriate atmospheric temperature range
  • Relative humidity.

Relative Humidity
  • The measure of the actual amount of water vapor
    in the atmosphere relative to the potential
    amount it can contain.
  • A saturated air mass has a relative humidity of
  • A rapid drop in temperature lowers the saturation
    point and the water vapor condenses (dew).

Atmospheric Conditions
  • Troposphere Lowest stratum of the atmosphere
    range from the Earths surface to 10-12 km.
  • Air temperature and pressure decrease with
    increasing altitude.
  • Stratosphere Extends from the troposphere to
    50 km in altitude.
  • Temperature is constant ( -55o C).
  • The stratospheric ozone layer between 20 km and
    25 km protects the Earth from uV radiation.

Vertical Structure of the Atmosphere
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Global Air Circulation
  • Air moves from areas of high pressure to areas of
    low pressure.
  • The stronger the gradient, the higher the wind
  • Differential heating and cooling of the land
    surface creates the differences in air pressure.

Global Air Circulation
  • Air at the equator is warmed and rises, creating
    a low pressure area.
  • Air masses move horizontally from north to south
    toward the equator to compensate for the low
    pressure area.
  • In the upper troposphere, warm air move toward
    the poles and descends at 25 degrees to 30
    degrees latitude.
  • Similar cells are established in the temperate
    and polar zones.

Global Air Circulation
  • Directionality is given to global wind patterns
    as a result of the CORIOLIS EFFECT.
  • The rotational speed at the equator is faster
    than at higher latitudes. This deflects the
    surface winds in the northern hemisphere to the
    right and to the left in the southern hemisphere.

Global Air Circulation
  • Global wind belts
  • Doldrums Equatorial, low pressure, ascending
    air, little horizontal air movement.
  • Horse latitudes 30o N and S, high pressure,
    descending air, little horizontal movement.
  • Trade winds Tropical zone, horizontal movement
    to the east.
  • Westerlies Temperate zones, horizontal movement
    to the west.
  • Polar easterlies Polar zones, horizontal
    movement to the east.

Weather and Climate
  • Weather Short-term conditions.
  • Climate Long-term, characteristic weather
  • Both are dynamic conditions, they change over
    time, but climatic conditions change slowly.
  • Precipitation and temperature are the two factors
    that most strongly influence climate.

Urban Microclimate
  • Cities alter local weather and climate.
  • Urban islands concept
  • Tall buildings, asphalt and concrete, few trees
    and high fossil fuel emissions.
  • Stagnant polluted air develops over cities.

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Global Climate Change
  • Numerous changes throughout geologic time (4-5
    billion years).
  • Major climatic changes have occurred during the
    past 2 million years
  • Appearances and retreats of glaciers
  • During the past 100 years, the mean global annual
    temperature ahs increased by .5 degrees Celsius.

Global Warming and Greenhouse Effects
  • Global warming A natural or human-induced
    increase in average global temperature.
  • The temperature on Earth depends on
  • Amount of solar energy received
  • Amount of solar energy reflected by the
    atmosphere and surface
  • Amount of solar energy retained by the
  • Amount of solar energy transferred in evaporation
    amd condensation.

Global Warming and Greenhouse Effects
  • Greenhouse effects A natural phenomenon.
  • Atmospheric gases, primarily water vapor, trap
    radiant heat in the lower atmosphere.
  • Moderates daily and seasonal temperature
  • Of concern are man-made gases that reach the

Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases
Status of Atmospheric CO2
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations can be measured in
    glacial ice to determine long term trends.
  • Prior to the Industrial Revolution background CO2
    were 200-300 ppm.
  • In 1860, concentrations were 280 ppm.
  • Today, concentrations are 400 ppm.
  • Rate of increase 0.5 per year.
  • Total carbon emissions increased by 4.3 annually.

Status of Atmospheric Methane
  • Methane increasing by 1 per year.
  • Sources Termites, wetlands, rice cultivation,
    biomass, and fossil fuel use.

Status of Atmospheric CFCs
  • Increasing at a rate of 5 per year.
  • Long residence time.
  • Absorbs uV wavelengths that would normally exit
    the atmosphere.

Status of Atmospheric Nitrous Oxide
  • Increasing at a rate of 5 per year.
  • Sources Fertilizers and fossil fuels.
  • Long residence time.

Is Global Warming Occurring?
  • Cycles are always underway in climate and
    precipitation, so it is hard to say if any
    changes that occur in one year are due to global
    climate change.
  • There are three apparent facts
  • Greenhouse effect is an understood atmospheric
  • Man-made sources increase concentrations of
    greenhouse gases
  • There is a correlation between CO2 and global

Models of Global Warming
  • Positive Feedback
  • Increased global warming increases evaporation
    and increases water vapor which leads to
    increased greenhouse effects and higher global
  • Increases permafrost melting and methane
  • Increased burning of fossil fuels to cool

Models of Global Warming
  • Negative Feedback
  • Increased carbon dioxide increases oceanic algae
    or terrestrial plant uptake, therefore global
    warming would decrease
  • Increased carbon dioxide increases evaporation
    rates causing increased cloud cover, therefore
    less solar energy reaches the ground and cooling

Models of Global Warming
  • Global Circulation Models
  • Use atmospheric temperature, relative humidity
    and wind conditions to predict regional effects
    of global warming.
  • North America Increased winter precipitation and
    decreased summer rains…less crop production
  • Sea level will rise with global warming. It is
    already rising at a rate of 2.5-3.0 mm per year.

Effects of Global Warming
  • Changes in climatic patterns
  • Rise in sea level
  • Changes in biosphere

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Variables That Need Further Study
  • Sunspot cycles Correlation exists today, but we
    do not know if there is a cause-effect
  • Aerosols (Particles lt 10 um) Condensation sites
    for water vapor. Increased cloud cover can result
    and cause a cooling trend.
  • El Nino Reduces the amount of carbon dioxide
    outgased from the ocean, thereby altering global
    carbon cycling.

What We Need To Know
  • Uncertainties
  • Will global temperature increases continue?
  • Will the continual burning of fossil fuels and
    increased carbon dioxide concentrations cause
    global warming?
  • Will policy decisions and actions taken to reduce
    greenhouse gas emissions have a beneficial effect?

What We Need To Know
  • Based on these uncertainties, we have two basic
  • Attempt to mitigate the severity of global
    warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
    (erring on the side of caution)
  • Accept that change will occur and adapt to the
    new conditions.

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