Tag Archives: Global Warming

Day 65: The Carbon cycle – The Impacts (Part 3)

Disrupting the carbon cycle has serious impacts on the planet. Something as “little” as offsetting the natural flow of carbon affects everything that is linked to carbon (in other words, all life on Earth). Let’s take a look at how pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the ocean impact the planet. Continue reading

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Day 64: The Carbon Cycle – how do humans affect it? (Part 2)

Like I mentioned in Part 1, the scary part about analyzing the carbon cycle is realizing how much humans are affecting it. If we look at the diagram of the carbon cycle, one of the ways carbon transits from sphere to sphere is from the subsurface (fossil fuels) to the surface by extraction, then to the atmosphere by burning the fossil fuels. The atmosphere also exchanges with the hydrosphere, so part of the carbon that we burn is then absorbed by the ocean. Continue reading

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Day 62: Plan ahead

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An eroded iceberg in Greenland. If all the ice in Greenland melted, the oceans would rise by seven meters. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

A lot of the world’s problems came to be because…well…people didn’t plan ahead. Continue reading

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Day 22: This week (1/22/2017) in Earth news

This week, NASA confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record, which continues a trend. The last three years (2014, 2015, and 2016) have been the hottest on record. Happily, 2017 is expected to be a little cooler than 2016 since El Niño, a weather phenomenon that shifts heat in the ocean and atmosphere, has ended. However, it is clear to scientific organizations such as NASA and NOAA that these recent temperature records are part of a global warming trend, in which the planet is heating up considerably. Continue reading

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Day 19: What’s all this fuss over 350 ppm of carbon dioxide?

This is a chart of the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere over the last 800 000 years, which is as far back as we can trace them. To put you in perspective, in the last 800 000 years, the Earth had already been through many ice ages and the species Homo sapiens was created.

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Source: Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAA

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Day 5: Thundersnow and other snow oddities

Today I spotted an ominous cumulonimbus cloud rolling on top of Albany. With the temperature at nearly 40°F and some wet snow falling from the sky, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d get to see the famous ‘thundersnow’ that meterologues get hyped about (if you want to see a Weather Channel guy go crazy with excitement over thundersnow, click here). Thundersnow, like its name suggests, is a thunderstorm that produces snow instead of rain. This is a very rare event because for thundersnow to happen, a winter storm needs convection, or upward moving air, which is very rare in winter. It’s a real treat for the science geek though. To quote Jim Cantore experiencing thundersnow in Boston, “You can have your $500 million jackpot in Powerball or whatever, but I’ll take this baby!”. Alas, the conditions were not right for my thundersnow, because instead I got hailed by graupel.

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What causes Global Warming?

Global warming is caused by two types of forcings: natural forcing, which involves solar cycles and the Milankovitch cycles ; and anthropogenic forcing, which is human-based. In this article, we’ll discuss anthropogenic forcing, as it accounts for more than half of the current global warming, according to IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report.  The contributions of the two forcings (anthropogenic and natural) to global warming are represented on the graph below.

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This graph uses data from climate model simulations and observations to estimate the contribution of each forcing (natural and anthropogenic). The total anthropogenic contribution to global warming is estimated in orange (Combined anthropogenic forcings) and the natural contribution is estimated in blue (Natural forcings). Source: IPCC 5th Assessment Report, Working Group I.

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