Adding greenhouse gases to our atmosphere is warming the planet.

Adding greenhouse gases to our atmosphere is warming the planet.

By Musketeer Fionnuala Fox

A scientist uses a computer to analyze carbon dioxide emissions. Computer screen shows a graphic of the greenhouse effect.

Current climate models predict global warming of between 1.4 and 5.8 °C by the year 2100.

Even a 1.4°C temperature rise over 100 years has never been observed in the past 10,000 years.

The Earth’s climate is already slowly adjusting to past greenhouse emissions – climate records show that global temperatures have increased by 0.6 °C since the late 19th century.

The 1990s are likely to have been the warmest decade of the millennium.

Mean sea-level around the world has risen by 10-20 cm. Most of the rise in sea levels has been due to the thermal expansion of seawater. Melting glaciers and ice caps could also contribute to rising sea levels.

Other impacts of climate change, which were observed during the 20th century;

* Global mean sea level – Increased at an average annual rate of 1-2 mm during the 20th century

* Duration of ice cover of rivers and lakes – Decreased by about 2 weeks over the 20th century in far North

* Arctic sea-ice extent and thickness – 40% thinner in summer in recent decades. Decreased in extent by 10-15%

* Non-polar glaciers – Widespread retreat

* Snow cover – Global area decreased by 10% since 1960s

* Permafrost – Thawed in parts of polar and mountainous regions

* El Niño events – More frequent, persistent and intense

* Growing season – About 1-4 days longer per decade during the last 40 years

* Plant and animal ranges – Shifting polewards (geographically) and upwards (altitude) as plants, insects, birds and

fish seek cooler conditions

* Breeding, flowering and migration – Earlier plant flowering, earlier bird arrival, earlier dates of breeding season, and

earlier emergence of insects in the Northern Hemisphere

* Weather-related economic losses – Rising

In recent decades, an increase in precipitation has been noticed in mid- and high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere (45 °N – 60 °N), as well as the tropics (10 °N – 10 °S).

On the other hand, precipitation has decreased in sub-tropical areas (10 °N – 30 °N) during the 20th century.

As a result, the frequency and intensity of droughts appears to have worsened in parts of Africa and Asia over the last few decades.

IMPACTS IN MY PART OF THE PLANET – NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland enjoys a very mild climate.

It is buffered by the huge Atlantic Ocean – since water heats up and cools down more slowly than land does, our climate is fairly constant, and there are no great extremes of weather.

Long periods of snow and sub-zero temperatures, or sizzling heat waves are uncommon. Compare this to continental Europe and Asia, where the huge land masses and distance from the oceans make for great climate extremes.

(The Siberian town of Verkhoyansk may possibly have the most extreme climate in the world. It has been as cold as -67 °C in January, and as high as 37 °C in July!)

Given our mild climate, it is possible we may notice climate change slightly more slowly than in other areas of the world. This is not to say that it won’t happen here though. Already, changes are being noticed.

Armagh Observatory measured the number of snow days and recorded that it has decreased over the 20th century. Less snow in Northern Ireland each year will have many effects: on roads, transport, wildlife to name a few.

Climate models predict that summer temperatures are predicted to rise. What effect might this have on agriculture in Northern Ireland?

The yield of potatoes here has varied with the mean summer temperature. (The yield is measured in kilotonnes per hectare, showing how successful the crop has been each year). There is clearly a link between summer temperatures and potato crop yield. In 1983 and 1995 the temperature was high, but the potato yield was low – this was because both these years had much drier than usual summers.

This is an example of how climate change might produce some advantages. It is likely that in Northern Ireland, new crops may be introduced, which previously did not grow well here.

It may be the behaviour of plants and animals which we notice soonest.

Snowdrops usually bloom in January, daffodils in March, bluebells in May. The periodic timing of natural events in response to climate is called phenology. Plants and animals respond to seasonal changes in weather.

Recording data such as the flowering date of plants, leaf-fall date of trees, or arrival dates of certain migratory birds is vitally important in monitoring climate change impacts on the natural world.

For more information on phenology, or if you would like to take part in recording, visit: http://www.phenology.org.uk

THE CHANGING CLIMATE IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Climate models run by the Met Office have predicted what the climate is likely to be in the 21st century.

Summary of predicted climate changes in Northern Ireland by 2080s

* Temperature – Average annual temperature to increase.

* Summer and particularly autumn to warm most.More record-breaking temperature years.

* Precipitation – Winters to become wetter; summers to become drier.

* Small changes in spring and autumn.

* Cloud cover – Cloud cover to decrease slightly.

* Humidity – Relative humidity to decrease slightly.

* Wind speed – Wind speed to decrease slightly, especially on east coast.

* Snowfalls – Large decrease in winter snowfalls

Click Here if you know anyone who wants to help the environment.

God Bless and Keep Safe

Fionnuala

N Ireland

UBIEE clean earth

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1 Comment

  1. KeencyDew said,

    January 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    OMG loved reading your blogpost. I submitted your rss to my reader!


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