Water, Carbon And Climate

Climate Change: 25% atmospheric carbon from agriculture

  1. Short UV radiation from the sun easily penetrates the atmosphere
  2. When the short UV reaches Earth’s surface = 50% absorbed by earth surface heating it- releasing latent heat via thermals
  3. Some radiated in from of long wave lengths
  4. Radiated long waves heats air above. GHG form a natural blanket to retain long waves radiation

Albedo: of the surface what % of incoming solar radiation is reflected from the surface: Ice 80%

HOWEVER: Also Natural Changes:

  • Milankovitch Mechanism: Axial Tilit- Earth’s orbit serve as a pacemaker that determines when the planet plunges into a glacial period and when it thaws out of one.


Effects of Climate Change:

  • Precipitation- patterns of precipitation is expected to change- drought and conflict
  • Extreme Weather Events- storms, floods and droughts are expected to get more frequent
    • Katrina 2005 New Orleans during 0.7OC temp increase
    • 35,000 dead in Europe due to heatwave
  • Agricultural Productivity- could decrease in some areas, leading to food shortages
    • Burkino Faso- Over half population facing starvation
  • Sea level rise – sea levels are expected to rise further= flood low-lying and coastal areas
  • Ecosystems and Wildlife- geographical range of some species will change as the climate changes
    • Arrival of new species = damage the ecosystem, and some species may become extinct
    • Plankton numbers decline if temperatures increase = knock on effect on marine food chains




Response to Climate Change:

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: international organisation set up by the UN to share knowledge about climate change – states that countries need to reduce the amount of C02 emitted
  • Individual: people can make their homes more energy efficient – double glazing, insulation
  • Regional and National
    • Governments can reduce reliance on fossil fuels by using and reducing the costs of renewable energy sources e.g. wind, tidal and solar:
      • g Whitelee Wind Farm Scotland generates 30% of Scotlands electricity
    • Afforestation and restoring degraded forests can increase carbon uptake by the biosphere:
      • Countryside Stewardship Scheme plan to plant 3 million new trees but £13mill
    • Governments can invest in carbon capture storage –
      • g: Boundary Dam Power Station Canada
      • 90% of total CO2emissions captured from coal fired power station
      • BUT CO2 used for Enhanced Oil Recovery: add pressure to oil in bedrock = help push out more oil
    • Global – countries can work together to reduce emissions
      • Kyoto Protocol 1997: Aim to reduce GHG emissions by 5% when compared to 1990s. Not been achieved
      • Paris Agreement 2015: ‘Historic leap forward’ Reduce emissions by 60% by 2050 BUT USA ratified
      • Participating countries agree to keep their emissions within set limits
      • There are international carbon trading schemes
      • Countries are given a limit on the emissions they can produce – if they produce less, they can sell the extra credits – if they produce more they need to buy more credits