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Understanding 
Earth’s Greenhouse 
Robert D. Cormia 
Foothill College
Overview and Goals 
• What keeps earth warm? 
• How does the Greenhouse work? 
• What does Vostok tell us? 
• Fossil fuel ...
Black Body Radiation 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-body_radiation
The Greenhouse Effect 
An overview of the Greenhouse Effect. From IPPC Working Group 1 contribution, Science of Climate Ch...
Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs) 
• CO2 
• CH4 
• H2O 
Methane – CH4 
Carbon dioxide – CO2
Carbon Dioxide 
CO2 is the Greenhouse Gas that we follow the most as fossil fuels 
contribute to it directly. CO2 also abs...
Methane 
• Potent GHG – 
20x CO2 / mole 
• 10 year half-life 
• -OH combination 
• Agriculture plus 
mining/fracking 
• Sl...
Water Vapor 
• Water vapor is 
actually the most 
potent GHG (by 
contribution) 
• Reacts to changes in 
surface temperatu...
Ice Cores – Story of Vostok
Vostok Ice Core Data 
•A perfect correlation between CO2, temperature, and sea level 
•For every one ppm CO2, sea level ri...
GHGs and Vostok Data 
James Kirchner Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley
Global Carbon Cycle
The Thermostat Inputs 
• CO2 - largest input 
• CH4 – most potent input 
• Water vapor – potent GHG 
• Clouds – absorb / r...
Dials on the Thermostat 
CH4 
GHGs Climate feedbacks 
CO2 
Water vapor 
Clouds 
Thermal inertia 
Ice / albedo 
Temperature...
250 yrs of Carbon Emissions 
It took 125 years to burn the first trillion barrels of oil – we’ll 
burn the next trillion i...
Keeling Curve CO2 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeling_Curve
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
Carbon Emissions and CO2 
• Carbon burned => CO2 
• Linear from 1850 to 2000 
- ppm CO2 =2.55 e10-4 *M tons C + 
297 (r2*1...
Projected Energy Demand
Future CO2 – the Next 15 Yrs 
Year Emissions CO2 
2000 283,373 369 
2005 318,465 378 
2010 357,209 388 
2015 399,986 399 
...
Earth Out of Balance 
http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20050428/
Earth’s Energy Imbalance
Emission Trajectories 
• We are adding 2+ ppm CO2 to the 
atmosphere every year, and is increasing 
• China passed US in G...
CO2 Trajectories to 2oC 
http://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/files/synthesis-report-web.pdf
Don’t have 20 years to Wait 
• Trajectory to 450 ppm CO2 (2032-2035) 
– 450 ppm CO2 => 2 deg C committed/forcing 
– Amplif...
Heat Storms in the US 
Record heat across the US in summer, including an oppressive heat index
Superstorm Sandi 2012 
www.theatlantic.com
Greenland Ice Melt 
Glaciers and Ices Sheets in the Arctic - http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152985/
Ocean Acidification 
http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification
Ocean Acidification 
CO2 dissolves in water to produce mild carbonic acid, which dissociates into bicarbonate and 
carbona...
Arctic Sea Open Ice in 2015 
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/11/arctic-sea-ice-set-to-collapse-in-2015.html
Methane Hydrates 
http://www.wwfblogs.org/climate/content/methane-arctic-seafloor-mar2010
What you can do… 
• Understand earth’s greenhouse process 
• Decide if you want to make a difference 
• Measure your carbo...
Summary 
• Science isn’t holding us back 
• Our collective behaviors are 
• Technology isn’t (all) the answer 
• Efficienc...
References/Attribution 
• Climate Change Index - 
http://www.igbp.net/4.56b5e28e137d8d8c09380002241.html 
• 350.org 
• CO2...
Understanding earth’s greenhouse
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Understanding earth’s greenhouse

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Overview of earth's greenhouse effect and trajectory to 450 ppm CO2

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Understanding earth’s greenhouse

  1. 1. Understanding Earth’s Greenhouse Robert D. Cormia Foothill College
  2. 2. Overview and Goals • What keeps earth warm? • How does the Greenhouse work? • What does Vostok tell us? • Fossil fuel emissions and GHGs • Current and future forcing, feedbacks • What you can do be being smarter
  3. 3. Black Body Radiation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-body_radiation
  4. 4. The Greenhouse Effect An overview of the Greenhouse Effect. From IPPC Working Group 1 contribution, Science of Climate Change, Second Assessment Report 1996
  5. 5. Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs) • CO2 • CH4 • H2O Methane – CH4 Carbon dioxide – CO2
  6. 6. Carbon Dioxide CO2 is the Greenhouse Gas that we follow the most as fossil fuels contribute to it directly. CO2 also absorbs energy near 700 nm. A doubling of CO2 would raise earth’s temperature by nearly 3 degrees Celsius.
  7. 7. Methane • Potent GHG – 20x CO2 / mole • 10 year half-life • -OH combination • Agriculture plus mining/fracking • Sleeping giant (permafrost)
  8. 8. Water Vapor • Water vapor is actually the most potent GHG (by contribution) • Reacts to changes in surface temperature • Key in feedbacks
  9. 9. Ice Cores – Story of Vostok
  10. 10. Vostok Ice Core Data •A perfect correlation between CO2, temperature, and sea level •For every one ppm CO2, sea level rises 1 meter, temp rises .05 C (global) •Process takes 100 years to add 1 ppm CO2, and reach thermal equilibrium This is not just a correlation, this is a complex and dynamic process, with multiple inputs. Touching one input affects all other inputs, and increases in temperature becomes a further feedback and multiplier of these inputs.
  11. 11. GHGs and Vostok Data James Kirchner Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley
  12. 12. Global Carbon Cycle
  13. 13. The Thermostat Inputs • CO2 - largest input • CH4 – most potent input • Water vapor – potent GHG • Clouds – absorb / reflect • Albedo – moderates energy • Temperature – Reacts to increased forcings – Amplifies / induces other inputs Earth’s Biogeochemical Thermostat (Cormia) Missing Feedbacks (Torn, Harte)
  14. 14. Dials on the Thermostat CH4 GHGs Climate feedbacks CO2 Water vapor Clouds Thermal inertia Ice / albedo Temperature GHGs force energy into the planet, surface warming leads to feedbacks
  15. 15. 250 yrs of Carbon Emissions It took 125 years to burn the first trillion barrels of oil – we’ll burn the next trillion in less than 30 years – why should you care?
  16. 16. Keeling Curve CO2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeling_Curve
  17. 17. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
  18. 18. Carbon Emissions and CO2 • Carbon burned => CO2 • Linear from 1850 to 2000 - ppm CO2 =2.55 e10-4 *M tons C + 297 (r2*100=99.6%) • ~ 50% of carbon goes into atmospheric CO2 – 50% oceans / soil • Trend is constant over 100 years – is this how the biosphere will react over the next 500 years? Year C burned ppm CO2 1900 12307 295 1910 19174 300 1920 28050 305 1930 37914 310 1940 48566 310 1950 62324 315 1960 83453 320 1970 115935 325 1980 164083 340 1990 219365 350 2000 283373 370 2010 365000 390
  19. 19. Projected Energy Demand
  20. 20. Future CO2 – the Next 15 Yrs Year Emissions CO2 2000 283,373 369 2005 318,465 378 2010 357,209 388 2015 399,986 399 2020 447,216 411 2025 499,360 424 2030 556,932 439
  21. 21. Earth Out of Balance http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20050428/
  22. 22. Earth’s Energy Imbalance
  23. 23. Emission Trajectories • We are adding 2+ ppm CO2 to the atmosphere every year, and is increasing • China passed US in GHGs emissions 5 years ago, and is now nearly double US • Oil and hydrocarbons are actually plentiful • Coal is still setting production records • Population, wealth, and consumption
  24. 24. CO2 Trajectories to 2oC http://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/files/synthesis-report-web.pdf
  25. 25. Don’t have 20 years to Wait • Trajectory to 450 ppm CO2 (2032-2035) – 450 ppm CO2 => 2 deg C committed/forcing – Amplifying feedbacks take us to 3+ deg C • Ocean acidity 450 ppm CO2 => pH 8 – concentration [CO2] = [HCO3] • Decisions made today impact 2035 – Still investing in carbon intensive energy – At 2+ ppm/year, for 20+ years, 450 ppm CO2
  26. 26. Heat Storms in the US Record heat across the US in summer, including an oppressive heat index
  27. 27. Superstorm Sandi 2012 www.theatlantic.com
  28. 28. Greenland Ice Melt Glaciers and Ices Sheets in the Arctic - http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152985/
  29. 29. Ocean Acidification http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification
  30. 30. Ocean Acidification CO2 dissolves in water to produce mild carbonic acid, which dissociates into bicarbonate and carbonate ion. Increasing acidity removes carbonate ion from solution. At pH 8 (450 ppm CO2) carbonate ion is under-saturated, shells will be difficult to form and stay stable. http://www.ocean-acidification.net/FAQacidity.html
  31. 31. Arctic Sea Open Ice in 2015 http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/11/arctic-sea-ice-set-to-collapse-in-2015.html
  32. 32. Methane Hydrates http://www.wwfblogs.org/climate/content/methane-arctic-seafloor-mar2010
  33. 33. What you can do… • Understand earth’s greenhouse process • Decide if you want to make a difference • Measure your carbon footprint! • Develop your own climate action plan • Talk to people about what you know
  34. 34. Summary • Science isn’t holding us back • Our collective behaviors are • Technology isn’t (all) the answer • Efficiency and energy intensity • Making better carbon decisions
  35. 35. References/Attribution • Climate Change Index - http://www.igbp.net/4.56b5e28e137d8d8c09380002241.html • 350.org • CO2now.org • EIA – http://www.eia.gov • NOAA Climate Center • https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2011/13 • http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ • Skeptical Science - https://www.skepticalscience.com/ • International Arctic Research Center • http://www.iarc.uaf.edu/ This presentation is intended solely for use/remix for educational purposes

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