1. Assume that you have 100 years of continuous temperature records from your local weather service office. Discuss some of the difficulties you might have trying to determine whether average temperatures have increased during this period.
One of the issues with determining temperature changes over a certain amount of time is the determination whether or not it is propagated by humans or is a part of a natural process. Other issues that might be a problem are:
A. Changes in different types of measuring systems for determining temperatures.
B. The location changes of stations that monitor temperature.
C. The problem of missing data and the decisions needed to work this into the complete picture.
D. Changes in times of day when temperatures are monitored.
E. Increasing human populations causing bigger urban areas that mean higher temperatures than the areas that surround them (D’Aleo, 2008).
2. What are meant by the terms positive and negative feedback mechanisms? Give an example of a process that would be considered a positive feedback mechanism during a period of warming on the earth. Can you think of a negative feedback mechanism?
A feedback mechanism is a process that will either reinforce a process or cause it to weaken. An example of positive feedback is: increasing surface air temperatures increasing the melting of snow and ice in polar latitudes. This diminishes the earth’s albedo and permits more sunlight to reach the surface. This in turn causes the air temperature to rise once again.
Negative feedback means that an effect is lessening or is being counteracted by a process that began it in the first place. An example of a negative feedback is: a slightly elevated temperature will cause increased evaporation from the oceans, which in turn will cause more clouds to form and will increase the earth’s albedo. This will cause the temperature to decrease slightly (Ahrens, 2014).
3. Discuss the significance of a predicted increase in global temperatures of 3 C, as opposed to a predicted increase of 1 C.
A rise of 3 degrees C would be very dangerous. More areas would be hit with drought conditions and 30% of the species may face extinction. The corals would show substantial biodiversity losses and there would be increases in strong cyclones and sea levels that will significantly rise (The Economist, 2013).
4. The hottest places on earth are not found near the equator in tropical wet climates but rather in arid climate regions. Why is this true?
When skies are clear it allows for a decrease in humidity. Warmer air that is heated by the sun will sink and warm up the surface air. There is little moisture in the air to absorb the sun’s radiated energy so the earth’s temperature will rise quite a bit. This is due to the fact that water keeps heat longer than land. The subtropical deserts of the Northern Hemisphere have clear skies with sinking air, along with decreased humidity and an elevated summer sun that shines on open land increasing the temperature (Ahrens, 2014).
5. What meteorological information is the primary basis for climate classification using the Köppen system? Give Examples.
The Koppen Climate Classification System is based on annual and monthly averages of temperatures and precipitation (Ahrens, 2014). It is based on dividing the earth into climactic regions that work with the global patterns of vegetation and soils. The Koppen Climate Classification System covers five major climate types. They are:
A. Moist Tropical Climates that have high temperatures throughout the year and a large amount of rain. f- Tropical wet (rain forest) – wet all year round with at least 6cm rainfall. w - Tropical wet and dry (savanna) – Winter is the dry season. Rainfall in the month when it is driest is less than 6cm and less than 10- P/25 where P is the mean annual rainfall in cm. m – Tropical monsoon – Dry season is short and rainfall is less than 6cm but equal to 10-P/25.