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0.039% carbon dioxide
This is a photo of the English physicist James Joule 1818 - 1889|
How does heat and mechanical work combine,
how does electrical current effect heat emission,
these were questions James Joule wanted to have answers to.
His theory of conservation of energy resulted in the first law of thermodynamics.
So, when you hear the word 'joule' today, his name was used to name the unit of energy or work.
Why did we start our information about greenhouse gases with this man?|
It's all about measuring energy:
A) Energy sent by the sun
B) Energy reflected by the earth
C) Energy absorbed by greenhouse gases
To give answers we need to compare the absorption rates of the different gases, gases that are part of Earth's atmosphere.
Major Greenhouse Gases = GHGs|
1) water vapor H2O a major player
2) ozone O3
3) carbon dioxide CO2
4) methane CH4
5) nitrous oxide N2O
All these gases are naturally present
in the Earth's atmosphere.
Other GHGs are synthetic chemicals
emitted through human activity.
And humans add natural GHGs by burning fossil fuels.
In the last 100 years human activities
- scientists call that anthropogenic -
have added huge amounts of GHGs
increasing atmospheric GHGs concentrations!
As sun light is caught in a greenhouse,|
so greenhouse gases will stay in a greenhouse.
Earth's atmosphere acts like the walls of a greenhouse!
Greenhouse gases affect biodiversity
|Oxygen intake by humans||
Carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant GHG directly affected by anthropogenic activity, is the product of the oxidation of carbon in organic matter, either through combustion of carbon-based fuels or the decay of biomass.|
When volcanoes erupt, the respiration of organic matter in natural ecosystems, all natural fires, and the exchange of dissolved CO with the oceans are called 'natural CO sources'.
Please remember how many humans have lived on Earth 100 years ago ...|
Now think about how often humans have to breath in oxygen a day ...
Continue to imagine that humans have to breath out too - its carbon dioxide CO2
Take your calculator and multiply the amount of CO2 humans had to breath out 100 years ago.
Write down the amount of CO2
Type in the number of humans that live today and multiply again.
Write the number under the other amount -
Now imagine the difference and think about why some humans tell you, that humans have no influence on the amount of CO2 in the air...
Don't stop thinking:
Do 7 billion humans need more food, more homes, more transportation than 1.65 billion in the year 1900?
Check how many greenhouse gases are emitted by producing meat.
Check how many greenhouse gases are emitted by changing forest into homes
Check how many greenhouse gases are emitted when driving a car.
If you want to have the exact amounts, multiply again with the population numbers from 1900 and today!
Look at the main anthropogenic sources:|
1) fossil fuel combustion - it took millions of years to produce fossil fuel, but we burn them fast
2) deforestation - 80% of Earth's forests are cut down
3) land use changes - reducing the ability to store carbon
3a) converting to agricultural land
3b) converting forests to urban development
3c) burning wood - releasing carbon
CO2 emitted from combustion of fossil fuel cycles between the atmosphere and land and ocean 'sinks' = carbon storage reservoirs, which are absorbing a large fraction of these carbon emissions. We know the amount these sinks can absorb is limited, how much was never tested during human history. We are quite sure that these carbon sinks will delay the volatile outcome, and we know that human actions have altered Earth's radioactive balance.|
The rate at which land and ocean sinks take up carbon will determine what fraction of man-made CO2 emissions remain in the atmosphere and alter Earth's radiative balance.|
Earth exists on a dynamic balance of biological and inorganic processes. Action and reaction change Earth's atmosphere on very different time scales ranging from months to geological epochs.
For quite a while, ongoing, human intervention in the carbon cycle is disturbing Earth's natural balance.
Can you see a trend?|
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are rising rapidly. With the help of isotope analysis we can say that CO2 levels are significantly higher than any levels that have existed in the past 650,000 years.
Nitrous oxide, often called laughing gas, is a chemical compound with the chemical formula N2O. At room temperature, it is a colorless non-flammable gas, with a pleasant, slightly sweet odor and taste. It is used in surgery and dentistry for its anesthetic and analgesic effects.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is produced by fertilizer use, animal waste management, fossil fuel combustion, industrial activities, and emitted from ecosystems as a by-product of nitrification and denitrification.|
As a greenhouse gas it is quite potent, but good for us, the amounts are not as high.
Without the protecting ozone layer in the stratosphere, life on Earth's landmasses wouldn't exist as we know it.|
But human activities create ozone close to Earth's surface, changing the balance, absorbing UV rays, warming the atmosphere.
Methane CH4 is produced by anaerobic - what means without air - |
decay of organic material in landfills, wetlands, and rice fields.
Cattle, goats, and sheep produce methane in their intestines.
Animals and human manure releases methane
Waste-water treatment facilities
Combustion of fossil fuels
Natural gas and petroleum systems
Coal mines and other mines.
The biggest release of methane is expected through methane ice, now buried under the ocean floors, and through thawing of Permafrost
Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years.|
Methane is 21 times more effective in absorbing light from the sun that is not visible to the human eye. This light has a high energy resulting in great heat.
Methane is also a primary constituent of natural gas and an important energy source. Burning methane in the presence of oxygen produces carbon dioxide and water.
Another famous man discovered and isolated methane a long time ago.|
This is a photo of Alessandro Volta in 1777.
At this time 745 nmol/mol = parts per billion, methane was in the air.
By 2014, methane levels, in the Arctic, were measured at 1890 nmol/mol,
a level scientists described as being higher than at
any time in the previous 400,000 years.
||Historically, methane concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere have ranged between 300 and 400 nmol/mol during glacial periods commonly known as ice ages, and between 600 to 700 nmol/mol during the warm interglacial periods.|
When atmospheric GHG concentrations increase, Earth temporarily traps infrared radiation more efficiently, so the natural radiative balance is disturbed until its surface temperature rises to restore equilibrium between incoming and outgoing radiation. Earth's oceans have a huge capacity to store heat, so it will take a while before we get dramatic changes.|
Humans and all mammals need healthy air to survive!|
Air and water vapor = clouds
Do you know how much of Earth is covered by oceans?
Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas
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We have only this one little planet EARTH to live on!
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