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Research shows that, Future climate could get worse

Research shows that Future climate could get worse

Researchers at Michigan University and the University of Arizona used a futuristic climate model to successfully invent, the Early Eocene Period’s extreme warming, which is considered to be directly related to the future climate of Earth.

They discovered that the warming rate improved dramatically as the concentrations of carbon dioxide rose, a finding with far-reaching consequences for the future climate of Earth. The scientists reported this in a document published in the  Science Advances paper on September 18. Another observation is that the climate of the Early Eocene converted to be more sensitive to additional carbon dioxide as the planet warmed.

“We were surprised that the climate sensitivity increased as much as it did with increasing carbon dioxide levels,” said author Jiang Zhu. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the U-M Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

climate change

Image credit: National climatic data center

“It is a scary observation because it indicates that the temperature response to an increase in carbon dioxide in the future might be larger than the response to the same increase in CO2 now. This is not good news for us.”

The researchers determined that the substantial increase in climate sensitivity had not been seen in previous attempts to simulate the Early Eocene using similar amounts of carbon dioxide. It is likely due to an improved representation of cloud processes in the climate model they used, the Community Earth System Model version 1.2, or CESM1.2.

The findings of the model, which align with geological proof, indicate that if carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, extra CO2 increases will have an even more significant climate effect than they would have. This does not mean well for the future of our climate.

Global warming is expected to change the distribution and types of clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere, and clouds can have both warming and cooling effects on the climate. In their simulations of the Early Eocene, researchers found a reduction in cloud coverage and opacity that amplified CO2-induced warming.

The same cloud processes responsible for increased climate sensitivity in the Eocene simulations are active today, according to the researchers.

“Our findings highlight the role of small-scale cloud processes in determining large-scale climate changes and suggest an inherent increase in climate sensitivity with future warming,” said U-M paleoclimate researcher Christopher Poulsen, a co-author of the Science Advances paper.

The Early Eocene, which was roughly 48 million to 56 million years ago, was the warmest period of the past 66 million years. It began with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, which is known as the PETM, the most severe of several short, intensely warm events.

If we don’t restrict greenhouse-gas emissions by the completion of this century, it’s predicted that the concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere could reach 1,000 parts per million and that’s the same as the level as the early Eocene.

We remain at 415 parts per million which is the highest level ever in human history.

The Eocene Era isn’t the only one in Earth’s history that’s crucial to study to anticipate future climate change better, though. Research published last year suggests that climates like the one during the Pliocene era will become the norm as soon as 2030.

Journal Reference: Science Advances

Whitelee wind farm

Scotland is generating enough wind energy to power two Scotlands

Motivated from numerous renewable energy records and landmarks achieved, another milestone has been achieved in the first half of 2019. The country Scotland has produced enough energy from wind power which can power its homes twice.

For a nation which is home to 2.6 million people, producing 9.8 million Megawatt-hours of electricity by using turbines in the time period between January and June which is the adequate power supply to 4.47 million homes is a notable achievement. The record high wind energy is capable of providing enough electricity for every home in Scotland and also most part of Northern England for the first six months of the year. The month with the highest production was March with 2,194,981 Megawatt-hours (MWh) of output.

Robin Parker, the Climate & Energy Policy Manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said that everyone is benefitting from cleaner energy and atmosphere throughout the country and also seeing those incredible statistics, Scotland’s wind energy revolution seems to boost up. Moreover, he added that the data shows that utilising Scotland’s abundant coastal wind potential could supply eco-friendly electricity for millions of houses in both Scotland as well as England.

In the field of renewable energy, the United Kingdom (UK) has just achieved its longest span without depending on coal energy since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. According to the National Grid in the UK, for seven days and a total of 167 consecutive hours in a row, coal power stations didn’t supply them energy in which gas turbines, nuclear power, solar energy and other renewables played a part.

Scotland could play a big role in the UK government’s aim of producing energy without coal completely by 2025.

With huge funding in the wind and solar, Germany and other nations are benefiting with increased demand and the possibility of renewable energy production. Qinghai Province in northwest China which is home to five million has been operating for weeks on renewable sources like solar, wind and hydropower.

With the increased ability and more productive technology, scientists discover the ways to produce more electricity with existing solar or wind. With coastal farms at a potential of 8,423 Mega-Watt (MW) as of December 2018, Scotland is a groundbreaker in terms of wind power and hopefully, within next 12 months, they will supply all of its energy from renewables. Alex Wilcox Brooke, Weather Energy Project Manager at Severn Wye Energy Agency said that those statistics actually highlight the compatibility of wind energy in Scotland and its significance in the UK energy market.

Convergent Lady Beetle

Massive ladybug swarm appears on the weather radar

A normal Tuesday night for meteorologists at California turned into a strange surprise when they spotted a huge blob on their National Weather Service Radar which appeared to be 130 by 130 kilometres and was noticed to be moving southwards over the San Bernardino County.

The blob was a strange phenomenon owing to the relatively normal weather conditions on that day with no expectations of rain or thunderstorms as claimed by meteorologist Casey Oswant of the National Weather Service in San Diego but that was not the case as per the radar data. A local weather spotter was requested to eyeball the mass; there was no rain actually on the location even though the radar showed raindrop sized objects. The weather spotters had identified ladybugs and the conclusion was drawn that the giant weird blob was due to a tremendous swarm of red beetles on the move. California is home to 200 species which is the reason as to why these ladybugs could not be identified but it is said to be a Hippodamia Convergens which is a convergent ladybug.

They were spotted flying at an altitude close to 1.5 to 2.7 kilometres. The main mass of the supposed swarm was not as spread out as seen on the radar. It was consolidated in an area of 16 kilometres across and it was noticed that the ladybugs were spread out and not consolidated in one place. Ladybugs migrate to milder climates with warm weather in order to survive the snowy weather and return back in spring to feast on a glut of aphids.

An entomologist at the Cornell University named John Losey has stated a worry in this observation as to why we are seeing this big swarm now and why this was not observed initially. He believes it might have to do something with climate change. The best possibility would be that California might be a suitable place for the environment of ladybugs. The team is working hard to confirm this idea but have not turned up with suitable evidence.

An entomologist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology claimed that the temperatures were cooler than the ladybugs generally prefer. The ladybug theory is a bit hard to believe as these insects generally do not travel in swarms of close to millions of bees which are necessary to produce a radar echo is what ecologist James Cornett has to say on this issue. There is a possibility that we may never possibly know what caused the mystery signal.

Antarctica Glaciers

The science behind climate change

The earth’s climate has changed drastically over the decade. Geostationary satellites revolving around our planet help us see the big picture (quite literally), accumulating data constantly and updating us about the conditions of the Earth. Be it from the melting of polar ice caps to erratic monsoons and weather changes, and most definitely warming up of oceans to rise of sea levels. These events essentially indicate the dire condition of the climate all around the globe and its immediate need for attention.

The evidence behind climate change

  • Rising temperatures

Global warming is not a phenomenon we are unfamiliar with. It has had serious implications on our planet in various ways in the last decade and even before. Erratic rainfall, severe droughts, rising sea levels, etc. the main reason behind the rising of temperature was the increase in CO2 levels which was again caused due to pollution. In fact, the last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.

Global Temperature

  • Ocean acidification

Since the industrial revolution swept through our planet bringing in new opportunities, adversely it has brought about some pretty serious implications on our large water bodies. The acidity in ocean waters has increased by 30%. This is due to the CO2 which is being expelled in greater quantities and in turn being absorbed into the oceans. The amount increasing per year is a whopping 2 billion tons per year. And that is just the upper layer of oceans.

  • Extreme events

Certain events occurring around the globe have captured the attention of various environmentalists and scientists, such as in the United States the number of recorded high-temperature weather phenomenon has been increasing. On the other hand, the number of low-temperature weather phenomenon has been decreasing since 1950. The number of intense rainfall conditions has also increased in this time period.

  • Shrinking glacial cover

From the snowy peaks of Himalayas to the Andes, the Rockies, Alps, etc. glaciers are decreasing everywhere around the world. This is a serious indication of climate change and poses serious threats to sea levels and mountain animals. Even islands remain in threat of disappearing completely under the rising sea levels. Satellite observations have revealed how much of this is true. In the past five decades, the snow cover has melted over the Northern Hemisphere.

  • NASA’s data

The ice sheets that form a huge landmass of Greenland and Antarctica have diminished in mass. According to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment data, every year the loss of ice is 281 billion tons between 1993 and 2016. In Antarctica, the loss is 119 billion tons in that same time period. On top of that, the rate of ice mass loss in Antarctica has tripled in the last ten years.

 

Signs and Science behind climate change

The various compounds, whose abrupt increase in our environment which has caused changes in our climate are CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, etc. Their formations have been explained below:-

6 O2 + C6H12O6 --------> 6 H2O + 6 CO2 + energy

This is the process of combustion during which O2 reacts with glucose (C6H12O6) to produce water (H2O) and CO2. These chemical reactions occur when organic matter burns in our environment releasing chemical energy in the form of heat and light.

CH3COOH --------> CO2 + CH4

This is the microbial process of methanogenesis during which acetate (CH3COOH) is split into CO2 and Methane (CH4). Methane has the greatest impact on freshwater wetlands and rice paddies. The amount of methane produced in these fields increases with the area of land required for these rice paddies. This is the direct impact of the human population on climate change.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is another contributing factor which is formed as a by-product of nitrification and denitrification.

CH4 + 4O2 --------> HCHO + H2O + 2O3

Smog is another pollutant that causes irritation of eyes and lungs, especially in city inhabitants. Tropospheric ozone (O3) is a constituent of smog that causes the mentioned problems.

NO2 + sunlight --------> NO + O

O + O2 --------> O3

NO2 + O2 --------> NO + O3

This is another process by which tropospheric ozone is emitted from atmospheric nitrate (NO2). First, the breakdown of nitrate occurs from which nitric oxide (NO) and an atom of oxygen (O) is obtained. After that, it combines with O2 and produces O3. Depicted above is the basic science behind climate change.

Random Quiz

Which of the following is not a greenhouse gas?

Correct! Wrong!

In order, the most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are Water vapor, Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Ozone, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (incl. HCFCs and HFCs). Carbon Monoxide does not cause climate change directly.


Main reasons behind climate change

We might not be able to notice changes in our Earth’s climate and enjoy it as normal. However, the Earth’s climate is ever-changing, more rapidly in these times than ever so before as seen in the geological record. There are a lot of reasons behind climate change and a lot of factors, natural and anthropogenic (human-induced) which has contributed to this. The rapid rate of climate change is now a great concern worldwide.

Here are some of the main reasons behind climate change:

  1. Human activity
    • We, humans, are the ones who emitted greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. This led to more heat retention and absorption which in turn, increased surface temperatures.
    • We have emitted aerosols and these, after scattering in the atmosphere have absorbed solar and infrared radiation, which has had an adverse effect on the microphysical and chemical properties of clouds.
    • We have also changed the usage of lands, deforested them, which in turn led to a greater amount of sunlight being reflected from the surface of the earth back into space also known as the surface albedo.
Haiti Deforestation

Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti, Haiti-Centre. This image depicts the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right). (Source: NASA)

  1. Solar Irradiance

Since the Sun is our nearest star and our most fundamental source of energy, it does have the effect that is instrumental to our climate changes. The Ice Age between 1650- 1850 in Greenland was due to the littlest decrease in solar activity. From 1410-1720 it was cut-off by ice and all the Glaciers shifted in and moved towards the Alps.

  1. Tectonic movements of plates and volcanic activity

Tectonic plates form the very basis of our continents and even the slightest movement can cause them to move to very different positions from their initial location. These plate movements can cause eruptions in volcanoes which in turn contribute to climate change.

The eruptions from volcanoes which consist of gases and dust particles may warm or cool the Earth’s surface altering it’s temperature significantly.

  1. Changes in ocean currents

Ocean currents carry heat to all the other water bodies of the Earth. Hence, the change in direction of these currents can change affecting the warmth or coolness of various continents. These can have a relatively large effect on our overall climate (including coastal climate and global too) because oceans harbor a large amount of heat.

These are some of the main reasons behind climate change.

Remedies for climate change

We, as humans should individually take measures to save our planet Earth and so that our climate is not affected as much.

  • Instead of depleting our reserved fossil fuels, we need to use more renewable resources such as wind, wave, tidal and solar energy.
  • We need to make use of more public transport instead of our private vehicles. We need to gradually replace our petrol driven vehicles with electric ones in the future to reduce the emission of toxic gases in the atmosphere.
  • One of the easiest steps our government can take is cutting methane emissions. Methane is 84 times harmful than carbon dioxide emissions and is a much greater reported problem.
  • We should wisely use our available energies. We can do this by using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging computers and other electronic devices when not in use, washing clothes in cold water instead of warm, using natural sunlight to dry our clothes instead of dryers, etc.
  • Focusing our lives in nature rather than consuming and purchasing. If we start practicing composting, recycling, sharing, fixing and making our lives would be greener and cleaner and would significantly enrich nature and our lives in the process.
  • Carbon pricing so that polluting nature has a heavy price. It might sound not as much of an important step but it paves the way for greener solutions. As agreed by market economists, carbon pricing is also a business-friendly way to decrease pollution in nature. The federal needs our individual support to help make this possible.
  • We should consume more organic meals and less meat. By doing so, we will help ourselves to a better diet and also our planet to make it more climate-stable. We should also try growing our own food and never waste it as much as possible.

Final Words

Scientists all around the globe belonging to various scientific societies have published numerous statements, coming to the unanimous conclusion that global warming is the primary factor of climate change and that we, humans are the primary cause. We should definitely stop overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide (CO2), which we do when we burn fossil fuels like oil and coal to provide ourselves electricity to power our transports and keep our homes warm. The Earth is steadily warming up in response and this is a dire situation whose consequences will affect us in the very near future in drastic ways.

Read More:

  1. Climate change: How do we know?
  2. Climate change, global warming and greenhouse gases