Climate Change Carbon footprints and cycles Climate Change

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Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles What is climate change? • • • What

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles What is climate change? • • • What do you think climate change is? What do we actually mean when we talk about climate? How is it measured? What affects it? What effect is climate change having? What can we do about it?

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles How has the global temperature changed? Temperatures over

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles How has the global temperature changed? Temperatures over the last 400 000 years obtained from the Vostok ice core, the longest continuous icecore record to date

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Variations of the mean surface temperature during the

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Variations of the mean surface temperature during the last 140 years:

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles What questions should you be asking when presented

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles What questions should you be asking when presented with data like this? • Where are the observations made? (in towns, open countryside, at sea; developed countries only or mostly northern hemisphere? ) • How are the measurements made? (is a daily average taken, or highest temp of the day, are night time temperatures included) • What instruments are used? And how are they calibrated? • How are the global averages calculated?

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles What affects the climate? • The Earth’s surface

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles What affects the climate? • The Earth’s surface is warmer than we might expect considering the amount of radiation reaching us from the sun. • Some gases in the atmosphere absorb infrared radiation that has been emitted by the surface. • These gases occur naturally in the atmosphere so our planet is warmer than expected and can support life.

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Greenhouse gases - So what are these greenhouse

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Greenhouse gases - So what are these greenhouse gases? Water vapour; carbon dioxide; methane; nitrous oxide and ozone. - How do greenhouse gases absorb the infrared radiation?

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles This table shows changes in concentrations of the

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles This table shows changes in concentrations of the key natural greenhouse gases and some synthetic gases (halocarbons that are now banned)

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Effect on global climate • How do we

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Effect on global climate • How do we know that human activities are having an effect on climate? • Scientists use models to simulate the Earth’s temperature variations and to predict what may happen in the future. • This diagram shows observed temperatures (red) and modelled predictions of the Earth’s temperature over the last 140 years.

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles The carbon cycle Anthropogenic versus natural carbon emissions

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles The carbon cycle Anthropogenic versus natural carbon emissions The natural carbon cycle:

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles • Green arrows – terrestrial cycle (short time-scale,

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles • Green arrows – terrestrial cycle (short time-scale, moths/years to decades) • Photosynthesis by green plants removes CO 2 from the atmosphere (CO 2 that isn’t respired is ‘fixed’ carbon) • Respiration of plants returns CO 2 to the atmosphere • Transfer of fixed carbon to the store of dead organic matter in soil and detritus • Carbon returned to the atmosphere by decomposition (respiration of decomposers and detritivores) • Blue Arrows – oceanic cycle (intermediate time-scale, up to 1000 years) • CO 2 dissolves into surface waters (dissolved inorganic carbon, DIC) • CO 2 outgases from the ocean (E and F are approximately balanced) • Fixed carbon exported to deep ocean (planktonic debris, faecal pellets of animals and other detritus) • Upward movement of deep DIC-rich water • Sinking of lower-DIC content surface waters • Brown arrows – long-term geological cycle (hundreds of millions of years)

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Anthropogenic CO 2 The global budget of CO

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Anthropogenic CO 2 The global budget of CO 2 for the 1980 s showing average annual values in Gt. C y-1.

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles • The two main anthropogenic sources of CO

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles • The two main anthropogenic sources of CO 2 are: – burning fossil fuels and – changing land use (nearly 90% attributed to loss of carbon from forest ecosystems) • So how much CO 2 has been released to the atmosphere due to human activities during the last 200 years or so? (major period of industrialisation)

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Carbon footprints • What do you think should

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Carbon footprints • What do you think should be taken into account when calculating your carbon footprint? • Now take a look at the carbon calculator.

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Reducing emissions • How might you reduce emissions

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Reducing emissions • How might you reduce emissions of carbon dioxide? (on a personal level rather than industrially based) • Think about what you now know about the carbon cycle and what affects your footprint?

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Further Resources • If you have found this

Climate Change: Carbon footprints and cycles Further Resources • If you have found this session interesting why not try a course with the Open University • Please go to www 3. open. ac. uk/study for further details or call 44(0) 845 300 60 90 • http: //climateprediction. net/ – a project launched in September 2003 to explore the uncertainty in climate model predictions by using ‘distributed’ computing. • Calculate your carbon footprint online at: – http: //www. bp. com/iframe. do? category. Id=9032780&content. Id=70 60112 – http: //www. safeclimate. net/calculator/