4 Carbon Dioxide The current concentration of CO 2 is about 385 ppm (parts per million), as compared to the pre-industrial concentration of about 285 ppm. This is an increase of about 30% This increase is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (also some loss of biomass)
7 Data analyzed by Hadley Research Centre, United Kingdom
8 Ground Atmosphere Absorbers are: 1) Gases -- CO 2, water vapor, and ozone 2) Clouds 3) Aerosols Thermal radiation from the atmosphere Thermal energy lost to space; must balance absorbed solar energy Solar energy in Greenhouse effect
Increasing CO 2 Decreases Transparency in IR Increasing CO 2 decreases the transparency of the atmosphere, And lower transparency implies higher optical depth, Which implies more downwelling infrared radiation, Which implies more heating at the surface
10 Climate Feedback Adding CO 2 to the atmosphere warms the planet That warming alters other parts of the climate system Those changes can further enhance the warming or decrease the amount of warming Feedback
11 Water Vapor Feedback Greenhouse effect More CO 2 in the atmosphere Warmer surface temperature and atmosphere Water vapor physics More H 2 O in the atmosphere Greenhouse effect Much warmer surface temperature and atmosphere
Increasing Water Vapor Decreases Atmospheric Transparency… 1 cm PWV 4 cm PWV And lower transparency implies higher optical depth, Which implies more downwelling infrared radiation, Which implies more heating at the surface This is a “positive feedback” as it amplifies the original perturbations influence; positive feedback increases the warming
What are some other Feedbacks ? Ice – albedo feedback – Warmer surface conditions melt the ice, which decreases the surface albedo (e.g., in the arctic), which leads to more shortwave absorption by the surface, and hence more warming – This is a positive feedback (enhances warming)
What are some other Feedbacks ? Cloud feedbacks – More atmospheric water vapor may lead to more cloud formation. There are multiple different possibilities: 1) More low altitude cloud. – These clouds are typically composed of liquid water droplets with small particle sizes; more clouds like this lead to more scattered solar radiation (back to space) and little impact on the longwave radiation. – This is a negative feedback (cooling influence)
What are some other Feedbacks ? Cloud feedbacks – More atmospheric water vapor may lead to more cloud formation. There are multiple different possibilities: 2) More high altitude cloud. – These clouds are typically composed of ice crystals with large particle sizes; more clouds like this lead to more infrared absorption, which results in less IR emission to space and increased IR radiation at the ground. There is little impact on the solar radiation. – This is a positive feedback (warming influence)
The wild card: Aerosols CO 2 emissions are (almost always) accompanied by emissions of aerosols (particulate matter, and ‘precursor gases’ that react in the atmosphere to form these particles) Aerosols directly influence radiation – Aerosols are typically small and reflect solar radiation back to space while having little impact on infrared radiation – Negative feedback (cooling influence)
The wild card: Aerosols Aerosols have a large “indirect effect” on the radiative balance by affecting the cloud properties. There are at least two different mechanisms for this: 1) Cloud albedo affect: – More aerosol particles implies more cloud condensation nuclei, which leads to many more smaller cloud droplets, which leads to enhanced solar scattering. There is only a small IR impact. – Negative feedback (cooling influence)
The wild card: Aerosols 2) Cloud lifetime affect: – More aerosol particles implies more cloud condensation nuclei, which leads to many more smaller cloud droplets, which leads a decrease in precipitation and hence a longer-lived cloud. – Sign of feedback is unknown, as we don’t know if low-altitude clouds or high-altitude clouds will be affected more – Certainly has impacts on the precipitation timing, intensity, and location (which we’ve ignored up to now…)
20 NOW Projected CO2 Concentrations Projecting future CO 2 emissions is a projection of human behavior (strong national component). While this is often discussed, the projections of aerosol emissions is hardly discussed at all!
21 Anthropogenic Climate Change Is REAL -- we will continue to add CO 2 to the atmosphere and the climate will warm. Is LONG TERM -- a problem for decades, not years => OUR CHILDREN’S PROBLEM! Has IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIETY -- global warming will impact water resources, agriculture, energy usage, severe weather damage, sea level, etc., on a regional basis. We (the US) are the largest part of the problem but have NO COHERENT STRATEGY to address it
22 The Global Greenhouse Problem PRESENTS DIFFICULT ETHICAL AND MORAL CHOICES -- in any plausible forecast of the future, there will be losers; there may be some winners. The biggest losers will most likely not be those who are most responsible for the change in climate. – Who pays for their losses? – With what currency? – On what time scale?