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Global Warming - Solar Radiation

Essay by   •  March 31, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,049 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,157 Views

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People think that our planet earth is so big we can't harm it, but in fact we are destroying it. The most vulnerable part of our ecological system is our atmosphere because it is very thin, Its thin enough we can change its composition. The sun's solar radiation comes in the form of light waves which heat up our planet. This radiation in the form of light waves is absorbed and warms our planet and then re-radiates back into space in the form if infra-red radiation. Some of this outgoing infra-red radiation gets trapped by the layer of atmosphere to keep the temperature within livable boundaries. For over the past 200 years, the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and deforestation have caused the concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to increase significantly in our atmosphere As a result our atmosphere is being thickened from all the greenhouse gases we are producing. These gases will cause the entrapment of more outgoing infra-red radiation which will heat up our atmosphere.

As the concentrations of these gases continue to increase in the atmosphere, the Earth's temperature is climbing above past levels. According to NOAA and NASA data, the Earth's warmest global average temperatures on record have all occurred within the past 15 years, with the warmest two years being 1998 and 2005. Most of the warming in recent decades is the result of human activities. Other aspects of the climate are also changing such as rainfall patterns, snow and ice cover, and sea level.

The North Pole is experiencing faster impacts of global warming. The ice thickness dropped by 40% in 40 years. There are two studies that show that in 50 to 70 years it will be completely gone. When the sun's rays hit the ice more than 90% of rays bounce off back to space like a mirror, but when it hit's the open ocean more than 90% of it is absorbed causing the surrounding water to get warmer which speeds up the melting of the ice. Now the artic ice cap acts like a mirror but as it melts and the open ocean receives that sun's energy, more than 90% of it is absorbed which will cause faster buildup of heat. Antarctica on the other hand is the largest mass on earth, but the breaking of ice shelves on Antarctica is an alarm bell for global warming. Each ice shelve is as big as the state of Rhode Island that broke of nearly 16-20 years ago. They are breaking off and melting rapidly which will cause floods, and sea levels will go up by twenty feet. Greenland will also rise sea levels by twenty feet since it is also melting. If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of Antarctica broke up and melted, many cities around the world would be underwater. Tony Blair's scientific advisor warned that because what is happening in Greenland the maps of the world have to be re-drawn.

Among temperature increases are increases in ocean temperatures, and the change in temperatures of water currents which causes really strong storms such as hurricanes, tornados and typhoons. Hurricane Katrina was a category one when it hit Florida, it killed many and caused billions in damage, but before it hit new Orleans it went over warmer waters. As the water temperature increased, wind velocity increased and so did the moisture content which caused the hurricane to pick up energy and get stronger. One of the unnoticed effects of global warming is that it causes more rainfall but more of it coming at one time as a storm which causes floods such as the floods in Europe this summer. Global warming not only causes floods, but also more draughts. One of the reasons for this is that global warming not only increases rainfall



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