Environmental Issues Webquest
Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect
Go to http://www.globalissues.org/article/233/climate-change-and-global-warming-introduction and answer the following questions.
1. What is the greenhouse effect?
2. How does it relate to climate change?
3. Draw and label the greenhouse effect.
4. Scroll down to the section “The Greenhouse Effect is Natural. What do we have to do with it?” What are some ways that humans are thought to be contributing to climate change?
5. Scroll down to the section “Small Average Global Temperature Change can have a Big Impact.” (Do not use the large map. Scroll down past it) Describe how global warming might affect the following….
a. extreme weather
b. ecosystem impacts
c. rising sea levels
d. ocean acidification
e. pests and disease
f. agricultural impacts
Climate Change and Global Warming
What Is Global Warming And Climate Change?
Global warming and climate change refer to an increase in average global temperatures. Natural events and human activities are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increases in “greenhouse” gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
A warming planet thus leads to a change in climate which can affect weather in various ways, as discussed further below.
What Are The Main Indicators Of Climate Change?
As explained by the US agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there are 7 indicators that would be expected to increase in a warming world (and they are), and 3 indicators would be expected to decrease (and they are):
[pic]Ten indicators for a warming world, Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries, NOAA, July 28, 2010
What Is The Greenhouse Effect?
The term greenhouse is used in conjunction with the phenomenon known as thegreenhouse effect. • Energy from the sun drives the earth’s weather and climate, and heats the earth’s surface; • In turn, the earth radiates energy back into space;
• Some atmospheric gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases) trap some of the outgoing energy, retaining heat somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse; • These gases are therefore known as greenhouse gases;
• The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature on Earth as certain gases in the atmosphere trap energy. [pic]Image source: Greenhouse Effect, Wikipedia(Link includes detailed explanation of the above image). Note, image above expresses energy exchanges in watts per square meter (W/m2) Six main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) (which is 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide) and nitrous oxide (N2O), plus three fluorinated industrial gases: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Water vapor is also considered a greenhouse gas.
The Greenhouse Effect Is Natural. What Do We Have To Do With It?
Many of these greenhouse gases are actually life-enabling, for without them, heat would escape back into space and the Earth’s average temperature would be a lot colder.
However, if the greenhouse effect becomes stronger, then more heat gets trapped than needed, and the Earth might become less habitable for humans, plants and animals.
Carbon dioxide, though not the most potent of greenhouse gases, is the most significant one. Human activity has caused an imbalance in the natural cycle of the greenhouse effect and related processes. NASA’s Earth Observatory is worth quoting the effect human activity is having on the natural carbon cycle, for example:
In addition to the natural fluxes of carbon through the Earth system, anthropogenic (human) activities, particularly fossil fuel burning and deforestation, are also releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
When we mine coal and extract oil from...
Links: Climate Change And Global Warming
Last updated Sunday, March 03, 2013.
Last updated Sunday, March 03, 2013.
Threat status of comprehensively assessed species by IUCN.Source: IUCN, compiled by Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, May 2010, p
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