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Unit 9

9.5 Global Climate Change

2 min readapril 29, 2020

jenni520065

Jenni MacLean


AP Environmental Science ♻️

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Measuring Change

The Earth has naturally experienced large-scale climate shifts over time. Scientists are able to track past climate by studying CO2 concentrations in ice cores.  In very cold places, snowfall compacts and becomes ice.  Bubbles in the ice are small samples of the atmosphere that existed when the snow originally fell.  Some places in Antarctica have ice that is 500,000 years old. These ice samples can tell scientists about historic atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Periods of high CO2 concentration would translate to a warmer climate.
The Earth naturally disperses heat from the equator towards the poles via atmospheric and oceanic circulation.  These currents circulate warm water and air to the poles and cool water and air back towards the equator. Climate change may disrupt these patterns, causing a large impact on global climates. Scientist have been able to create computer models to predict future global temperatures based on little, moderate, or high growth of CO2 emissions.  Scientists estimate an increase of 1.8 Degrees Celsius by 2,100. 

The Poles and Positive Feedback Loops

 As the poles warm the ice and snow will melt. This means that less solar radiation will be reflected by white surfaces back into space.  Once more solar radiation is being absorbed in polar regions, they will warm even faster. This process creates a positive feedback loop for warming. 
As the snow and ice melt, it results in the loss of habitat for creatures like seals, walrus, and polar bears.  The thawing of polar areas also leads to the decomposition of large quantities of previously frozen biomass. This decomposition releases methane and further adds to the increased rate of climate change. 
In addition, the melting of vast areas of ice will increase the amount of water in the ocean, causing flooding in low-lying coastal areas worldwide. 
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1a/Endangered_arctic_-_starving_polar_bear.jpg/800px-Endangered_arctic_-_starving_polar_bear.jpg

Image Curtesy of Wikimedia

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