Observed changes … If all the world's nuclear power were replaced by coal-fired power, electricity's carbon dioxide emissions (now at least 11 billion tonnes per year) would rise by a quarter – about 3 billion tonnes per year. Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Hence this balancing factor will diminish and the rate of temperature increase due to greenhouse gases may consequently increase. Hence there is, for the time being, a balancing cooling effect on the Earth's surface. Climate Change poses an increasing threat to the stability of Earth’s systems. Although water vapour has a major influence on absorbing long-wave thermal radiation, its GWP is not calculated since its concentration in the atmosphere varies widely and mainly depends on air temperature. Global Monitoring Division (GMD) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory, Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Atmospheric concentrations of some of the gases that produce the greenhouse effect are increasing due to human activity and most of the world's climate scientists consider that this is a significant part of the cause of observed climate change. Climate change has had a minor contribution to impacts on wildfires. These projected figures are estimates, and it is evident that if renewables fail to grow as much as hoped, which is likely, due to system costs, it means that other non-carbon sources will need to play a larger role. * Part of this 'window' (12.5-18 µm) is largely blocked by carbon dioxide absorption, even at the low levels originally existing in the atmosphere. It was set up as a partnership between the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and 195 countries are members. The second covers the impacts of climate change, the options for adaptation and identifies where people and the environment are most vulnerable. Recent estimates suggest that at times between 5.2 and 2.6 million years ago (during the Pliocene), the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere reached between 330 and 400 ppm. The second part of each IPCC Assessment Report (Working Group II) deals with impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities. Over the last decades, global warming has led to widespread shrinking of the cryosphere, with mass loss from ice sheets and glaciers (, Global mean sea level (GMSL) is rising, with acceleration in recent decades due to increasing rates of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (, Ecosystems in high mountain and polar regions and also marine ecosystems have changed (. Though Science Moms is nonpartisan and doesn't plan on backing political candidates, it does support policies like re-joining the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The September minimum extent has decreased, and the winter thickness is less. In the wavelengths 5-30 µm a lot of this thermal radiation is absorbed by water vapour and carbon dioxide, which in turn radiate it, thus heating the atmosphere and land and ocean surface. Most of the net energy increase in the climate system in recent decades is stored in the oceans. The amount, extent and rate of this exceeds natural climate variability, some of the warmest years on record have been in the last decade. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 °C (2018) In 2018 it rose 2.3 ppm (0.8%), and about 3 ppm in 2019 – the largest annual increase yet observed. The current level of NDC ambition needs to be roughly tripled for emissions reduction to be in line with the 2 °C goal and increased five-fold for the 1.5 °C goal. Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis The Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a comprehensive assessment of the physical science basis of climate change since 2007 when the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) was released. Regarding the basic science, it said: A ‘high-level synthesis report’, United in Science, compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) with UNEP and others for the Science Advisory Group of the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019 added to the IPCC Ocean & Cryosphere report, including: The joint February 2014 report by the UK Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, Climate Change: Evidence & Causes, presents a lot of information, including that from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, as above. Evidence for climate change is preserved in a wide range of geological settings, including marine and lake sediments, ice sheets, fossil corals, stalagmites and fossil tree rings. Coal burning was responsible for 52% of the fossil fuel emissions growth in 2010 (gas 23% and liquid 18%). The oceans are a critical part of the climate system, with vastly greater thermal capacity than the atmosphere. These reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions, thus giving a range and probability of climatic impacts on different regions of the world. The first part of each Assessment Report on the physical science basis of climate change (from Working Group I) concluded that the evidence that human-derived greenhouse gas emissions had already had an impact on the climate had strengthened. However, more recently attention has turned to the oceans, whose thermal capacity is well over one hundred times that of the atmosphere. It took the Earth’s climate around 100,000 years or more to recover, showing that a CO2 release of such magnitude may affect the Earth’s climate for that length of time. Climate is defined as the statistical average of weather over a long period, typically 30 years. Although we currently lack the large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets of the Pleistocene, there are of course still large ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica. Carbon dioxide cannot sensibly be called ‘pollution’ at any envisaged atmospheric levels. At the beginning of that cooling (in the early Eocene), the global average temperature was about 6-7 ºC warmer than now. OECD International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook – annual This removes about one-quarter of anthropogenic emissions and is responsible for much of the increase in photosynthesis worldwide since about 1900. If such a rapid release occurred, then major, fast climate changes would ensue. Here there has been a significant decrease in sea ice since satellite records began in 1978. Without the greenhouse effect overnight temperatures would plunge and the average surface temperature would be about minus 18 °C, about the same as on the moon, which lacks the shroud of our atmosphere. The report also states that costs of achieving any overall target for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations would increase if any generation options were excluded. The focus of attention regarding global warming has been the atmosphere, where the heat is initially retained. Estimates of the individual contribution of particular gases to the greenhouse effect – their global warming potential (GWP), are broadly agreed (relative to carbon dioxide = 1). Estimates of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere all show substantial increases. 15 (25 November 2019). CO2 levels were already high at the time. The Earth's climate has changed over millions of years, and there have been times when CO2 levels were higher than today. In the major El Niño-Southern Oscillation event in 1997-98 the globally-averaged air temperature reached its highest level in the 20th century as the ocean lost heat to the atmosphere, mainly by evaporation, with a major effect on regional rainfall. However, as warming increases, the possibilities of major abrupt change cannot be ruled out.” However, “the climate system involves many competing processes that could switch the climate into a different state once a threshold has been exceeded. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report (2013/2014) * Increased concentrations of CO2 and other radiative gases here mean that less heat is lost to space from the Earth's lower atmosphere, and temperatures at the Earth's surface are therefore likely to increase. Limiting warming to 1.5 °C can go hand-in-hand with reaching other world goals such as achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty. The Geological Society, An Addendum to the Statement on Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record, The Geological Society (December 2013), © 2016-2021 World Nuclear Association, registered in England and Wales, number 01215741. The 'greenhouse effect' is the term used to describe the retention of heat in the Earth's lower atmosphere (troposphere) due to concentrations of certain trace gases and water vapour in the atmosphere. More than 60% of the net energy increase in the climate system was stored in the upper ocean (0-700 m) from 1971 to 2010, and about 30% is stored in the ocean below 700 m. Anthropogenic influences likely contributed to the retreat of glaciers since the 1960s and to the diminution of the Greenland ice sheet since 1993. About one-third of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions come from the burning of fossil fuel to generate electricity. Arctic sea ice is an indicator. On Wildfires and Climate Change, ‘The Science’ Got in the Way of the Science Exaggerating the role of global warming in U.S. wildfires only diverts attention from real solutions to … Most of the net energy increase in the climate system in recent decades is stored in the oceans. With a doubling of overall electricity demand by then, and a carbon emission cost of $50 per tonne of CO2, nuclear's share of electricity generation is projected by IPCC to grow from 11% now to 18% of the increased demand. Mann is a veteran of the climate wars of the 1990s and early 2000s, when the scientific evidence that the climate is changing due to human emissions of greenhouse gases was under attack. Of this 545 GtC, about 240 GtC (44%) had accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 GtC (28%) had been taken up in the oceans with slight consequent acidification, and 150 GtC (28%) had accumulated in the terrestrial ecosystems. Global emissions of energy-related CO2 are projected in several scenarios in the International Energy Agency's (IEA) annual World Energy Outlook reports. Coal-fired generation* gives rise to twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas per unit of power at the point of use, but hydro, nuclear power and most renewables do not directly contribute any. A Synthesis Report, including a Summary for Policymakers, is also published for all three reports. In 2013 the Geological Society published an addendum to its 2010 position statement, which said that new climate data from the geological record strengthen the 2010 statement’s original conclusion that CO2 is a major modifier of the climate system, and that human activities are responsible for recent warming. The Fifth Assessment Report in 2013-2014 repeated the call for a global agreement to limit carbon emissions, though it did slightly adjust downward the likely effects of increased CO2 levels. It also says: “Results from the best available climate models do not predict abrupt changes in such systems (often referred to as tipping points) in the near future. At higher levels, plant growth is enhanced – the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect. The ocean absorbs nearly 25% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO, Implementing current unconditional nationally-determined contributions (NDC) to reducing CO. In 2006 China passed the USA as the largest CO2 emitter, and India is projected to overtake Russia as the third largest. Then there is the question of residence time in the atmosphere. Thus nuclear power's contribution could increase to perhaps 30% of the global generation mix in 2030. During those periods, global temperatures were 2-3 °C higher than now, and sea levels were higher than now by 10-25 metres, implying that global ice volume was much less than today. Geologists have recently contributed to improved estimates of climate sensitivity (defined as the increase in global mean temperature resulting from a doubling in atmospheric CO2 levels). Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 2.0 mm per year over 1971 to 2010. The Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991 in the Philippines reduced average temperatures about half a degree Celsius (°C). The outcome of any significant climate change will be varied rather than simply an overall increase in average or nocturnal temperatures. The Sixth Assessment Report is anticipated in 2021, but meanwhile there are two other relevant reports (see below). These gases are generally known as greenhouse gases (or more specifically as radiative gases). Carbon dioxide has a much longer residence time in the atmosphere, until it is either used up in photosynthesis or absorbed in rain or oceans. It also appears that increased levels of carbon dioxide will increase the capture of heat in its main absorption band to some extent, though diminishing as levels increase, while more energy is absorbed in the weaker bands. Cold days, cold nights and frost have become less frequent, while hot days, hot nights, and heat waves have become more frequent. Such estimates depend on the physical behaviour of each kind of molecule and its lifetime in the atmosphere, as well as the gas's concentration. These have shown a slow but steady temperature rise broadly consistent with the increase in warming at the ocean’s surface due to human influences, especially the release of greenhouse gases. “A well-known example is the south-north ocean overturning circulation, which is maintained by cold salty water sinking in the North Atlantic and which involves the transport of extra heat to the North Atlantic via the Gulf Stream. Since then, the pause in tropospheric warming may be due to the timing of long Pacific and Atlantic ocean cycles. In respect to enhancing the greenhouse effect, or the likelihood of AGW, the particular issue is focused in the 8-18 µm band where water vapour is a weak absorber of radiation and where the Earth's thermal radiation is greatest. Furthermore, there was greater confidence in predictions of the impacts of future greenhouse gas emissions. In the stratosphere, water vapour from methane oxidation and possibly from aircraft may be a forcing agent, but the former is included in methane’s GWP. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Core Writing Team, R. K. Pachauri, L. A. Meyer, Eds. CO2, with two bonds, absorbs some IR, but it is the next most abundant gas so its effect is significant. Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge of our time. Diatomic molecules, like O2 and N2 which mostly make up our atmosphere, absorb very little IR. Others, such as methane sources, are less certain, though about one-fifth of the methane emissions appear to be from fossil sources (coal seams, oil and natural gas, about 110 million tonnes per year). It is currently estimated to be 1.1 °C (±0.1 °C) above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times. The Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 further reduced uncertainties and led to calls for action. Global sulphate emissions peaked in the early 1970s and decreased until 2000, with an increase since due mainly to increased emissions in China and from international shipping. During the last ice age, pulses of freshwater from the ice sheet over North America led to slowing down of this overturning circulation and to widespread changes in climate around the Northern Hemisphere. The first details the physical scientific basis for climate change. It was released in October 2018 and said: An IPCC report from Working Groups I and II (physical science & impacts/adaptation) was released in September 2019, on The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Both oceans and some terrestrial ecosystems provide sinks which function as a negative feedback, that is to say they have increased their uptake as the atmospheric concentration has increased. Human activity has already warmed the planet by one degree Celsius relative to pre-industrial times, and we are feeling the effects through record heat waves, droughts, wildfires and flooding. Furthermore, slow-acting factors like the decay of large ice sheets and the operation of the full carbon cycle, suggest that this could double the climate sensitivity. This perspective is important as a reminder that only a very small change to natural processes is required to compensate for (or exacerbate) anthropogenic emissions. Certain inputs to the atmosphere can be discerned and readily quantified – carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning* and CFCs from refrigerants for instance. However, in many countries there are now programmes to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power stations, as these emissions cause acid rain. It is based at the WMO in Geneva. A sea level rise most likely to be 47-63 cm, due more to thermal expansion than retreating glaciers and Greenland ice cap. The first draft cited about 3000 publications, two-thirds of them being since the Fifth Assessment Report. Smith et al, Anthropogenic sulfur dioxide emissions: 1850-2005, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11, 1101-1116 (2011) Arctic summer sea ice disappearing in second half of century in all but hte lowest scenario. Such changes occur repeatedly over decades and more. While at lower levels in the atmosphere sulfate aerosols and dust are short-lived, such material in the stratosphere remains for years, increasing the amount of sunlight which is reflected away. (IPCC, 2014). Freshening of the North Atlantic from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet is however, much less intense and hence is not expected to cause abrupt changes. While the increase in carbon dioxide concentrations is remarkable, and the rate of anthropogenic emissions considerable (some 36 billion tonnes per year in 2014), even this is only about four percent of the natural flux between the atmosphere and the land and oceans. It was signed off by over 100 countries which agreed that major changes are required, to adopt low-carbon energy technologies. It said that a key to achieving this is putting a price on carbon emissions, particularly from power generation. IPCC, Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. During parts of the previous interglacial period, when polar temperatures reached 3-5 °C above today’s, global sea levels were higher than today’s by around 4-9 metres. In a study published today in Nature Climate Change, the interdisciplinary team of environmental engineers, Earth system scientists and data science … While it is true that varying intensity of energy from the sun has driven long-term … Its GWP is 23,900. The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95% probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20 th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia. A number of indicators suggest that atmospheric warming due to increased levels of greenhouse gases is indeed observable since 1970, despite some masking by aerosols (see below). In May 2013 the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the primary global benchmark site, surpassed 400 ppm for the first time since measurements began there in 1958. More than half of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is, Greenhouse gases contributed a global mean surface warming. Global sea level is very sensitive to changes in global temperatures. Emissions of sulfates are increasingly constrained in most countries. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks. Climate scientists use a concept called radiative forcing to quantify the effect of these increased concentrations on climate. These emissions were the highest in human history and 49% higher than in 1990 (the Kyoto reference year). Nuclear power plants do not emit these gases. The Geological Society, Climate Change: evidence from the geological record, A statement from the Geological Society of London (November 2010) We define 'dangerous' climate change effects as those that are irreversible, spiraling (self-reinforcing), very large or very rapid, and with a … However, there is doubt about whether in practice this occurs to the extent previously thought. This effect is enhanced by atmospheric sulfate aerosols and dust, which provide condensation nuclei. It sets out to explain the current situation in climate science, including where there is consensus in the scientific community and where uncertainties exist. The greenhouse effect itself occurs when short-wave solar radiation (which is not impeded by the greenhouse gases) heats the surface of the Earth, and the energy is radiated back through the Earth's atmosphere as heat, with a longer wavelength. In 2018 this reached 496 ppm according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI). Considering three long-lived radiative gases closely linked to human activities – CO2, CH4 & N2O – and their individual GWP, a figure in CO2-equivalent can be expressed. In the northern hemisphere the sulfate aerosols are estimated to counter nearly half the heating effect due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. The third part identifies options for mitigation of climate change. It is virtually certain that there will be more frequent hot and fewer cold temperature extremes over most land areas on daily and seasonal timescales as global mean temperatures increase. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. brings with him the largest team of climate change experts ever assembled in the White House, and action on global warming is expected quickly. OECD International Energy Agency projections and reports since then support this. National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed current scientific opinion on global warming.These assessments are generally consistent with the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.. it is anthropogenic, hence the term ‘anthropogenic global warming’ (AGW). shorter term than the models. Global air temperatures do appear to have risen about 0.6 °C over the last century, though this has been irregular rather than steady, and does not correlate well with the steady increase in greenhouse gas – notably CO2 – concentrations. That period is known as the ‘Ice Age’, a series of glacial episodes separated by short warm ‘interglacial’ periods that lasted between 10,000-30,000 years. Master the basics of climate science so you can better understand the news, evaluate scientific evidence, and explain global warming to anyone. The greenhouse effect occurs naturally, providing a habitable climate. Recent studies show that the oceans lose heat to the atmosphere during warm El Niño events, while more heat penetrates to ocean depths in cold La Niñas. Warming also heats the ocean, causing the water to expand and the sea level to rise. Relating these atmospheric concentrations to emissions, sources and sinks is a steadily evolving sphere of scientific inquiry. When ice sheets were at a maximum during the Pleistocene, world sea level fell to at least 120 metres below where it stands today. The following information comes from a 2010 position statement from the Geological Society of London.The Earth’s climate has been gradually cooling for most of the las… Science Moms says part of the problem trying to solve climate change is too few of us are talking about it. It said that the most cost-effective option for restricting the temperature rise to under 3 °C will require an increase in non-carbon electricity generation from 34% (nuclear plus hydro) now to 48-53% by 2030, along with other measures. From 1990 to 2018 there was a 43% increase in total radiative forcing, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this, according to figures from the NOAA, which is focused on the many sources, sinks and chemical transformations in the atmosphere. However, the climate is a complex system and other factors influence global temperatures. The IPCC summary in 2013 estimated that cumulative fossil fuel and cement production CO2 emissions from 1750 to 2011 was about 365 GtC, with another 180 GtC from deforestation and land use change. Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The following information comes from a 2010 position statement from the Geological Society of London. Nearly half the sulfates in the atmosphere originate from sulfur dioxide emissions from power stations and industry, particularly in the northern hemisphere. The difference is greater considering developing countries' average 25% efficiency. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate-related data or parameters. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific body under the auspices of the UN, set up in 1988 to review and assess scientific and other information on human contributions to climate change. The Earth's climate has changed over millions of years, and there have been times when CO2 levels were higher than today. Volcanoes have contributed substantially to dust and acid aerosol levels high in the atmosphere. The report projects other non-carbon sources apart from hydro contributing some 12-17% of global electricity generation by 2030. As another example, Arctic warming could destabilise methane (a greenhouse gas) trapped in ocean sediments and permafrost, potentially leading to a rapid release of a large amount of methane. * Carbon dioxide is essential to plant life, and needs to be at least 150 ppm to sustain it. Over the past 2.6 million years (the Pleistocene and Holocene), the Earth’s climate has been on average cooler than today, and often much colder. The models are constantly being refined, and in 2013 the IPCC noted “differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years (e.g. Limiting warming to 1.5 °C is not physically impossible but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. I would like to receive email from UBCx and learn about other offerings related to Climate Change: The Science. The Geological Society, Climate change: evidence from the geological record Scientists have studied plausible pathways to a ‘Hothouse Earth’ scenario, where interacting tipping points could potentially lead to a cascading effect where Earth’s temperature heats up to a catastrophic 4-5 °C. The Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, Climate Change: Evidence & Causes (February 2014) It is virtually certain that near-surface permafrost extent at high northern latitudes will be reduced as global mean surface temperature increases. For North America, climate change has had a major contribution to impacts on glaciers, snow, ice and/or permafrost and terrestrial ecosystems. The remainder of the 'window' coincides with the absorption proclivities of the other radiative gases: methane, (tropospheric) ozone, CFCs and nitrous oxide. * About 36.6 billion tonnes (9.98 GtC) from fossil fuels and cement production in 2018, plus about 5.5 Gt from land use change and deforestation (WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin #15). Finally, in relating emissions to atmospheric concentrations, there is the question of sinks, or natural processes for breaking down or removing individual gases, particularly carbon dioxide. Substitution of coal by natural gas however requires consideration of methane leakage, and 3% leakage means that the global warming potential from using gas is the same as burning coal. IR absorption is by the electrons that bond between atoms in a molecule and the way those atoms vibrate. 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