Southeastern Forests and Climate Change Essay

Submitted By jeter125
Words: 1024
Pages: 5

Climate Change

Global warming is for the most part caused by the increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are four main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and they all cause heat to be trapped in the atmosphere. These gases are Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and a group called Fluorinated gases. Fluorinated gases include hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons (PFC`s), and sulfur hexafluoride. The gases in this group are manmade and have no natural sources; they are mainly emitted from industrial processes. An ice age is a period of cooling in which large ice sheets cover vast areas of land and water. There has been at least seven ice ages that have occurred during the course of Earth`s history. The main four are as follows in chronological order, about 2400 million years ago to 2100 million years ago was the Huronian Ice age, next came the Cryogenian Ice age which was 800 million years ago to about 600 million years ago, from about 350 million years ago to 250 million years ago was the Karoo Ice age, and finally from about 2 million years ago to the present is considered the Quaternary Ice age. The Medieval warming period was a time of unusually warm temperatures in the North Atlantic region from about 950 to 1250 AD. What people consider the little ice age is the period of cooling that followed the Medieval warming period. Before people were on Earth temperature change and climate change in general happened due to natural events. These include volcanic eruptions, changes in solar activity and even changes in Earth`s orbit. In the past Carbon Dioxide levels changed with the glacial cycles. They were higher when it was warmer in between ice ages and lower during the colder glacial times. The amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere has greatly increased due to industry and our use of fossil fuels. Methane is more plentiful in the Earth`s atmosphere than ever before. This greenhouse gas is almost two and half times more abundant now than compared to pre-industrial times. It is released by both natural and manmade processes. Coral reef bleaching is caused by high water temperatures. It may also occur when water temperatures get to low or the corals are under too much stress. The process itself is when the corals lose their microscopic organisms called algae that live within them. These algae provide the coral with nutrients, and they are responsible for the color of the coral. Ocean acidification is becoming a real problem with the recent rise in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels. The process of ocean acidification is when the ocean absorbs too much Carbon Dioxide to the point where it alters the sea water`s chemistry. We are currently facing longer and dryer droughts due to global climate change. Temperatures are rising and causing more moisture to evaporate from land and water. This is leaving less water for us to use and for other organisms to use. Since the 1980`s we have been experiencing stronger tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricanes get their energy from warm ocean water. These tropical storms grow stronger, with faster winds, and heavier rain, with warmer water temperatures. Warmer water also means higher sea levels. As water warms, it takes up more space. They are also rising due to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. Over the past century sea levels have rose approximately seven inches. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase the average sea level around the world by the end of this century could be anywhere from 7 to 23 inches higher than it was in the 1900`s. Humans have had a large impact on the atmosphere by releasing harmful greenhouse gases into it. The gases we emit such as Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and many others form a layer in the atmosphere that reflects heat back onto Earth. This warming of Earth`s surface is known as the greenhouse effect. We are causing sea levels and