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Flashcards in Climate Change Deck (62):

Weather def

atmospheric conditions in a particular location over a short period fo time such as a day or week


How is weather usually described?

Usually discribed as temperature, amount of precipitation, wibnd speed, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, presence of fog, mist, or cloud


Climate: def

average of weather in a region over a long period of time.


Difference between weather and climate?

Weather describes the atmospheric conditions over a short period of time (hour, day, week). Climate is typical weather you expect in a region based on weather data gathered over many years.


Meteorologists: job?

gather information on weather around the world and use this to forecast the weather for specific areas


Methods for collecting data about weather?

Methods include weather stations, weather balloons, air craft, and satellites


Radiation from the sun reaches Earth and........... (3 cases)

1. Radiation is absorbed by particle which would cause particle to gain energy
2. Radiation could be transmitted through the particle (no effect)
3. Radiation could be reflected off the particle (changes direction)


What percent of the sun's radiation is reflected and absorbed? How does it work?

30% of the sun’s radiation is reflected back into space, the remaining 70% absorbed. 1% of the absorbed is used for photosynthesis. Some is absorbed by rocks and water and is responsible for warming the earth. The Earth then emits low energy infrared radiation into space.


Life on Earth exists because of this principle.

amount of energy entering equals the amount of energy leaving


5 factors affecting climate?

Latitude, effect of large bodies of water, currents, landforms, altitude



- Sun hits earth from directly overhead, while at the poles it strikes at an angle
- Sun’s energy is shining on a smaller area, so it is stronger at equator
- At poles, the radiation travels through more of the atmosphere which absorbs and reflects some radiation so less reaches the ground


Effect of Large Bodies of Water

- Water has a high specific heat capacity, which means it takes more energy to get it to heat up and longer for it to cool down compared to land
- During the summer, the water will be cooler than land and during the winter, water will be warmer
- Regions that are near bodies of water will have the Lake Effect



- The difference in the Sun’s intensity at different latitudes and different rate of energy absorption by land and water causes currents (air and water)
- Higher temperature = faster movement = harder the particles collide = particles are more spread out
- Hot fluids are less dense than cold and will rise
- As the fast particles rise, they lose energy causing them to cool and start to sink; convection current
- In the air, cold dense air creates an area of high pressure and warm low pressure
- Air moves from higher to low pressure, creating wind
- Both air and water currents travel from the equator to the poles


Convection current: def?

Circular current in air and other fluids caused by the rising of hot fluids and falling of cool fluids as the fluid changes density



- As clouds are blown upward over a mountain, they rain on the windward side and the leeward side is dry
- The phenomenon on the leeward side is called the rain shadow:
- Warm air meets cold mountain
- Air cools, becomes more dense, moisture falls as precipitation
- Leeward side gets dry air because no moisture left



- At high altitude, the atmospheric pressure is lower because there is less air pushing down
- Gas molecules in a greater amount of space: colder because they aren't bumping around
- This is known as the Alpine climate


Why is carbon important?

Carbon is important nutrient because it is the main element in the molecules that make up cells: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and DNA.


How can carbon get into the living part of the ecosystem?

There is only 1 way for carbon to get into the biotic (living) part of the ecosystem, that is by photosynthesis (therefore, plants are critical for all life on earth).


Photosynthesis to get into the biotic part of the ecosystem?

Photosynthesis 6CO2 + 6H20 = C6H12O6 + O2 (plants turn carbon and water into sugar)

Cellular Respiration Glucose (C6H12O6) + Oxygen Gas (O2) = CO2 + H2O + energy


Carbon is returned to the abiotic (nonliving) part of the ecosystem in several ways:

- Cellular respiration releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
- When plants and animals die, they decompose, which releases carbon dioxide
- Combustion releases carbon dioxide.


What do greenhouse gases do?

Trap heat to warm the Earth


What are the greenhouse gases?

Water, ozone, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane


___ of the greenhouse effect is caused by ______. How?

⅔ of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapour in the atmopsphere (the amount depends on temperature; the higher the temperature, the more water vapour in the air because heat causes evaporation of water)


Greenhouse Effect steps

1. Solar energy passes through the atmosphere, warming the Earth
2. Some of the sun’s energy is reflected back into space
3. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap some of the heat


Human Activities: def

Our activities are changing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


Carbon sink

anything that removes CO2 from the atmosphere (plants)


Human Activity: deforestation

In some areas of the world, forests are being cleared by burning them (combustion), which adds more carbon dioxide. In addition, deforestation means there are fewer trees available to perform photosynthesis, which would have taken carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.


Human Activity: garbage

Another way humans add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is by producing huge amounts of garbage, which gets put into landfill and produces carbon dioxide as a by product of decomposition.


Human Activity: livestock

Our livestock contributes to greenhouse gases by producing large amounts of methane (fart), which is able to absorb more thermal energy than CO2 so it is 23 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas.


Increased concentration of CO2 is causing ___________.

The increased carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is causing an increase in global temperature which had increased by 1°F


How much has Canada warmed?

Canada has warmed by 1.3°C since 1948, with the Arctic experiencing the greatest increase


Positive Feedback Loops: def

Cause has an effect which then increases the original cause.


First Example of Positive Feedback Loops in climate?

Water Vapour feedback loop:

Warmer temperature ➨ more evaporation ➨ even warmer temperature


Second Example of Positive Feedback Loops in climate?

Albedo Effect:

- Proportion of radiation reflected by a surface; snow/ice has higher albedos than rocks/vegetation because they reflect more of the sun’s radiation
- Warmer temperature ➨ melts snow/ice ➨ even warmer temperature (less reflection, more absorption of heat)


Effects of Global Warming: Climate

- Spring is coming 2 weeks earlier in some parts of the world which disrupts animal migrations and can have impacts on ecosystem balances
- Heat waves are occuring which is causing droughts in some areas
- Increased rainfall in areas is causing flooding


Effects of Global Warming: Sea Levels

Rising as a result of melting of glaciers and expansion of ocean water, which is causing coastal flooding


Effects of Global Warming: Health

- Heat waves cause deaths, especially among the elderly, young, ill, poor
- Warmer temperatures have allowed disease-carrying mosquitos to migrate and extend their ranges


Effects of Global Warming: Ecosystems

- Coral reefs are dying because water temperature is rising
- Disruption of the Arctic climate due to warming of Arctic Ocean and melting the ice may lead to the extinction of polar bears


Carbon Footprint: def

- The measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular on greenhouse gases
- Related to the amount of carbon dioxide produced in our daily lives


Primary Footprint: def

direct emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels (we have direct control over this)


Primary Footprint: examples

- Gas, oil, coal (domestic energy consumption)
- Electricity
- Private transport
- Public transport
- Holiday flights


Secondary Footprint: def

measure of the indirect carbon dioxide emissions as a result of the manufacture and breakdown of the products we use (the more we buy, the more emissions will be caused on our behalf)


Secondary Footprint: examples

- Share of public services
- Financial services
- Recreation & leisure
- Buildings and furnishings
- Car manufacture & delivery
- Clothes


Reducing Primary Footprint

- Walk/take TTC
- Turn down heat
- Turn off lights
- Eat less meat
- Buy energy efficient appliances
- Use fluorescent lights


Reducing Secondary Footprint

- Reduce consumption of goods (needs vs wants)
- Eat out less often
- Buy locally
- Vacation locally
- Recycle/reuse
- Don’t drink bottled water


Proxy Records: def

indirect methods of measuring climate


Direct method of studying climate?

use historical documents such as diaries or paintings.


Proxy: Ice Core Data

- Sample of ice taken from ice sheet or ice cap
- Ice cores have been taken in Greenland and Antarctica and go back as much as 800,000 years
- They contain air bubles and dust and dirt
Ice core gas bubbles can be analyzed for types of gases (amount of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide contained in them) or oxygen (which is composed of various isotopes - variations of atom in the # of neutrons)
- O-16 has 8 neutrons, 8 protons
- O-18 has 10 neutrons, 8 protons
- Water containing O-18 is heavier and needs more energy/heat to evaporate it, so this happens which the temperatures are warmer
- Higher proportions of O-18 in ice core gases means warmer temperatures


Proxy: Dendrochronology

- Trees in temperature climates produce 1 growth ring per year
In wetter, warmer years, the tree rings are wider; in drier, cooler years, narrower
- By comparing the patterns of tree rings, the records may go back over 10,000 years
- In Ontario, dendrochronology allows scientists to study climate for the past 2750 years


Proxy: Coral Reefs

- Add layers of growth each season and can be drilled to study their layers
- Help determine the temperature of the ocean when the layer was growing
- Corals build their skeletons out of calcium carbonate
- Isotopes of oxygen may be O-18 or O-16
- Higher proportions of O-18 indicates cooler ocean temperatures when that layer was formed (when temperature is cool, O-16 will evaporate because it’s lighter)


Proxy: Soil Layers

- Contain pollen and plant and animal fossils
- Crawford Lake in Ontario is a mercomictic lake: bottom layers remain undisturbed
- Cores taken from the bottom can be used to determine plant life in the area for the past 200 years
- Plants produce large amounts of pollen and it is decay-resistance
- Specific plant species can be identified by their pollen (how early spring came)
- Since weather conditions affect plant growth, climate patterns may then be established


Proxy: Cave Formations

- Cave formations (eg. stalactites) grow as minerals dissolved in water solidify into rock (often calcium carbonate)
- Layers can then be measured and dated; they grow faster in rainy years than in dry


Evidence of Climate Change: Global Temperatures

Poles and central continents are the most affected


Evidence of Climate Change: Glaciers, Ice Sheets, and Sea Ice

- 2 ice sheets exist; one in Greenland the other in Antarctica
- Sea level rise could affect island nations and larger cities
- There has been about 33% loss of ice in the Arctic since the 1980s


Evidence of Climate Change: Severe Weather

Hurricanes and heat waves have nearly doubled over the last 40 years


Evidence of Climate Change: Sea Level Rise

Since 1993, sea level has been rising about twice as fast as in the previous 30 years


Evidence of Climate Change: Precipitation Patterns

Some areas are experiencing an increase in heavy rainfall


Evidence of Climate Change: Mountain Pine Beetle

- Size of grain of rice and has destroyed 16 million hectares of forest in BC
- Hot summers and mild winters have contributed to the spread of the beetle



mass of ice that is constantly moving under its own weight


Ice Shelf

glacier that is tall, height


Ice Sheet

glacier larger than 50,000 square kilometers; spread out


Sea ice

frozen seawater