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Evidence of Climate Change

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Presentation on theme: "Evidence of Climate Change"— Presentation transcript:

1 Evidence of Climate Change

2 We all have heard the term ‘global warming’ but is there any evidence that our climate is changing?

3 1. Melting Ice 1890 1990 Many glaciers that have been getting smaller recently

4 parts of Antarctic ice sheet are breaking up
1988 2008

5 2. Rising sea Levels Higher sea levels means more flooding

6 3. Storm Intensity The total number of storms has not varied over time BUT The number of short-duration SEVERE storms has increased

7 4. Coral reef size Coral reefs have been shrinking in most places.
Area covered by coral reefs in four parts of the Caribbean as measured over time.

8 All of these changes have been recent, 100 years or so!
What evidence is there that climate has been changing over longer periods?

9 5. Fossil records Fossil of a tree from Antarctica, an area far too cold for modern forests

10 6. Tree Rings (or dendrochronology)‏
relative growth of trees each year gives clues to climate conditions in the past

11 How far back does this record go?
1000 years? quite a few trees this old 5000 years? a few trees this old 10000 years? no trees this old but can use old dead trees to go back this far

12 The problem with tree rings is they only give us clues as to how well the tree grew at that time.
They give us no other information about the other conditions at that time. Researchers want to see into the past and find more than just temperature data. Where can they look? What should they look for?

13 7. Ice Core Data drill down into glaciers or ice sheets

14 Like trees, ice cores have ‘rings’
analysis of these ‘rings’ allows researchers to determine melt & freeze patterns and O2 isotopes  past temperatures there is gas trapped in the ice  past atmosphere gases

15 temperature has varied over the past 400,000 years
[Antarctica] Results? temperature has varied over the past 400,000 years It has been up to 4oC warmer and 8oC cooler than now

16 CO2 levels have also varied over the past 400,000 years
The question is, are the variations related?

17 When CO2 is low, temp is low
When CO2 is high, temp is high

18 Have any other gases varied over time?
Yes! Nitrous oxide (NO) has increased a lot since 1800’s

19 methane (CH4) has increased a lot since 1800’s

20 sulphate (SO4) ions have increased a lot since 1800’s

21 Note that all four gases show similar patterns
and all correlate to increases in temperature

22 Are all of these changes that we have seen related?
ice melting, rising sea levels, more intense storms shrinking coral reefs All result from warmer temperatures CO2, N2O, CH4 and SO4 gases are all natural greenhouse gases involved in Earth temperature Therefore the question now is what is causing all of these changes?

23 The causes of these changes in climate

24 1. Natural fluctuations We know that CO2 does naturally vary  a lot

25 2. Anthropogenic cause (man-made)
Most of the observed changes have happened in the past 250 years. So what happened about 250 years ago?

26 As long as we needed only a small source of power,
watermill windmill As long as we needed only a small source of power, water, wind or horses were enough

27 To operate a large mill or factory, you need the power of steam.
And you make steam by boiling water We used to burn wood, but burning wood is not very efficient

28 We switched from burning a small amount of wood.
To burning a large amount of coal.

29 To power the factories and the mills of the Industrial Revolution

30 but now oil and natural gas are also big
initially coal was main energy source and remains a big source

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