Good to write again.
So, now I am going to talk about a situation that has been taking place on our earth for some time now. I am sure you know what I am talking about, it is Global Warming. Before we go on any further, I need to explain what global warming is.
The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring process that aids in heating the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. As energy from the sun passes through the atmosphere a number of things take place. A portion of the energy is reflected or scattered back to space by clouds and other atmospheric particles. About 19% of the energy available is absorbed by clouds, gases and particles in the atmosphere. Of the remaining 55% of the solar energy passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, 4% is reflected from the surface back to space. On average, about 51% of the sun’s radiation reaches the surface. This heat helps to keep the temperature on earth stable.
The amount of heat energy added to the atmosphere by the greenhouse effect is controlled by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. All of the major greenhouse gases have increased in concentration since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. More gases accumulating in the atmosphere caused more heat to be trapped within so, this results in enhanced greenhouse effect. This is what in turn becomes what we now call Global Warming, the average temperature of the planet slowly rising.
The consequences of global warming are wide and ranges from polar icecaps melting to hurricanes becoming more frequent.
The high temperatures causes the oceans to warm up hence, the ocean has more energy. This causes stronger tropical storms to occur. The number of category 4 and 5 storms has greatly increased over the past 35 years, along with ocean temperature.warning signs today shows increasing strong weather patterns. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, with a record 27 named storms, of which 15 became hurricanes. Seven of the hurricanes strengthened into major storms, five became Category 4 hurricanes and a record four reached Category 5 strength.Hurricane Katrina of August 2005 was the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.
Warmer temperatures could increase the evaporation rate hence causing drought and wildfires. Here are some examples, the 1999-2002 national drought was one of the three most extensive droughts in the last 40 years. Warming may have lead to the increased drought frequency that the West has experienced over the last 30 years.The 2006 wildland fire season set new records in both the number of reported fires as well as acres burned. Close to 100,000 fires were reported and nearly 10 million acres burned, 125 percent above the 10-year average.Firefighting expenditures have consistently totaled upwards of $1 billion per year.
Warmer temperatures can also lead to heavier rainfall in some areas as drought is caused in others. The national annual precipitation has increased between 5 and 10 percent since the early 20th century, largely the result of heavy downpours. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that intense rain events have increased in frequency during the last 50 years and human-induced global warming most likely contributed to the trend. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Northeast region had its wettest summer on record in 2006, exceeding the previous record by more than 1 inch.
Hotter weather enables deadly mosquitoes to travel greater distances and this increases related diseases in areas that are before not prone to them.
More frequent and severe heat waves will result in a greater number of heat-related deaths. In 2003, extreme heat waves claimed as many as 70,000 lives in Europe. In France alone, nearly 15,000 people died during two weeks of soaring temperatures, which reached as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of North America experienced a severe heat wave in July 2006, which contributed to the deaths of over 140 people, including some who owned working air conditioners. In the 1995 Chicago heat wave, 739 heat-related deaths occurred in a one-week period.
Global warming could increase smog pollution in some areas and intensify pollen allergies and asthma. The number of pollen allergy and asthma sufferers has increased worldwide over the last several decades. Some researchers have suggested that this could be an early health effect of human-caused climate change. Air pollution makes allergies worse: Diesel exhaust particles can interact with pollen and deliver it deeper into the lung. Rising temperatures increase ground-level.
Rising temperatures ravage coral reefs and melt the habitats of polar bears and Antarctic penguins. Ecosystems, pushing to extinction those species that cannot adapt. A study found species in alpine areas to be moving vertically at a rate of 20 feet per decade in the second half of the 20th century. Some polar bears are drowning because they have to swim longer distances to reach ice floes. The U. S. Geological Survey has predicted that two-thirds of the world’s polar bear sub-populations will be extinct by mid-century due to melting of the Arctic ice cap. In Washington’s Olympic Mountains, sub-alpine forest has invaded higher elevation alpine meadows. Bermuda’s mangrove forests are disappearing. In areas of California, shoreline sea life is shifting northward, probably in response to warmer ocean and air temperatures. Over the past 25 years, some Antarctic penguin populations have shrunk by 33 percent due to declines in winter sea-ice habitat. The ocean will continue to become more acidic due to carbon dioxide emissions. Because of this acidification, species with hard calcium carbonate shells are vulnerable, as are coral reefs, which are vital to ocean ecosystems. Scientists predict that a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature would wipe out 97 percent of the world’s coral reefs.
Glaciers and Sea Levels
Artic summers could be ice – free by 2040, and sea levels could rise as much as 23 inches by 2100 if current warming patterns continue.
Rising global temperatures will speed the melting of glaciers and ice caps and cause early ice thaw on rivers and lakes.
After existing for many millennia, the northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica — a section larger than the state of Rhode Island — collapsed between January and March 2002, disintegrating at a rate that astonished scientists. Since 1995, the ice shelf’s area has shrunk by 40 percent. According to NASA, the polar ice cap is now melting at the alarming rate of nine percent per decade. Arctic ice thickness has decreased 40 percent since the 1960s. Over the past 3 decades, more than a million square miles of perennial sea ice (an area the size of Norway, Denmark and Sweden combined) has disappeared. Multiple climate models indicate that sea ice will increasingly retreat as the earth warms. Scientists at the U.S. Center for Atmospheric Research predict that if the current rate of global warming continues, the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer by 2040. At the current rate of retreat, all of the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2070.
Current rates of sea-level rise are expected to increase as a result both of thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of most mountain glaciers and partial melting of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. Global sea level has already risen by 4 to 8 inches in the past century, and the pace of sea level rise appears to be accelerating. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels could rise 10 to 23 inches by 2100, but in recent years sea levels have been rising faster than the upper end of the range predicted. In the 1990s, the Greenland ice mass remained stable, but the ice sheet has increasingly declined in recent years. This melting currently contributes an estimated one-hundredth of an inch per year to global sea level rise. Greenland holds 10 percent of the total global ice mass. If it melts, sea levels could increase by up to 21 feet.