In 2018 evidences of global warming and climate change are unavoidable to notice. In simple language, global warming is the result of how humans live on the planet. The population has grown to from 1.5 billion in 1900 to 6 billion in 1999. To supply our needs and use modern technologies, we, the population of planet, Earth, heat it up by releasing gases into the atmosphere, which creates the greenhouse effect. According to National Geographic data, the levels of heat-trapped gases are higher now than in the last 650,000 years. The Greenhouse effect is the trapping of the sun’s warmth in the planet’s lower atmosphere. The physics behind it is simple. First, sunlight shines on planet’s surface, and gets absorbed by land and oceans and then radiates back into the atmosphere as heat. In the atmosphere, “greenhouse” gases trap some of this heat, and the rest escapes into space. The more greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere, the more heat gets trapped. Does it mean it is bad? No! The greenhouse effect is what keeps the Earth’s climate livable. But, since there are more and more gases trapped, the amount of heat accumulated in the atmosphere is becoming a bad thing for us. Earth’s average temperature increases, wind and ocean currents move the heat around the globe and some areas cool down and some warm up. It also changes the precipitation amount. Climate changes differently in different areas. Looking back, levels of greenhouse gases have increased and decreased, but in general the number stayed pretty stable and constant over time. But the current rise is abnormal. You can see the graph from the EPA: Historical measurements show that the current global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are unprecedented compared with the past 800,000 years.
So what can we expect from global warming development in near future?
It is very likely that precipitation will increase in high latitudes and decrease in most subtropical lands. As precipitations and temperature patterns change around the globe, there will be regions of winners and regions and losers. And a winner in one decade may become a loser in following decades as temperatures continue to rise and precipitation decreases, increases, or shifts locations. Drought and famine could become a big problem.
Ice melting is another result of global warming. Glacier ice holds 2.15% of the water on earth. If all glacial ice melted, global sea level would rise about 210 ft and flood vast areas of lands. It won’t happen in the nearest future but there is a concern about the melting of certain ice masses. Mountain glaciers, summer snow cover, and sea ice are currently declining in volume in both hemispheres.
Climate change is not driven just by increased greenhouse gas concentrations; other reasons are changes in solar activity and large volcanic eruptions. Although the influences of these mechanisms are much less certain than those of greenhouse gases. In conclusion I wanted to add that the greenhouse effect is not the only contributing factor to global warming, but it is the major one that must be monitored and controlled.