CONTRIBUTORS TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Causes of climate change can be divided into two categories, human and natural causes.

  • Natural Causes of Climate Change

Volcanic eruptions – When a volcano erupts it throws out large volumes of sulphur dioxide (SO2), water vapour, dust, and ash into the atmosphere. Large volumes of gases and ash can influence climatic patterns for years by increasing planetary reflectivity causing atmospheric cooling.

Ocean current – The oceans are a major component of the climate system. Ocean currents move vast amounts of heat across the planet. Winds push horizontally against the sea surface and drive ocean current patterns. Deep ocean circulation of cold water from the poles towards the equator and movement of warm water from the equator back towards the poles. Without this movement the poles would be colder and the equator warmer. The oceans play an important role in determining the atmospheric concentration of CO2. Changes in ocean circulation may affect the climate through the movement of CO2 into or out of the atmosphere.

Earth orbital changes – The earth makes one full orbit around the sun each year. It is tilted at an angle of 23.5° to the perpendicular plane of its orbital path. Changes in the tilt of the earth can lead to small but climatically important changes in the strength of the seasons, more tilt means warmer summers and colder winters; less tilt means cooler summers and milder winters. Slow changes in the Earth’s orbit lead to small but climatically important changes in the strength of the seasons over tens of thousands of years. Climate feedbacks amplify these small changes, thereby producing ice ages.

Solar variations – The Sun is the source of energy for the Earth’s climate system. Although the Sun’s energy output appears constant from an everyday point of view, small changes over an extended period of time can lead to climate changes. Some scientists suspect that a portion of the warming in the first half of the 20th century was due to an increase in the output of solar energy. As the sun is the fundamental source of energy that is instrumental in our climate system it would be reasonable to assume that changes in the sun’s energy output would cause the climate to change. Scientific studies demonstrate that solar variations have performed a role in past climate changes. For instance a decrease in solar activity was thought to have triggered the Little Ice Age between approximately 1650 and 1850, when Greenland was largely cut off by ice from 1410 to the 1720s and glaciers advanced in the Alps

If global warming was caused by a more active sun, then scientists would expect to see warmer temperatures in all layers of the atmosphere. They have only observed a cooling in the upper atmosphere, a warming at the surface and in the lower parts of the atmosphere. This is due to greenhouse gasses capturing heat in the lower atmosphere. Also climate models that include solar irradiance changes cannot reproduce last century’s observed temperature trend without including a rise in greenhouse gases.

  •  Human causes of climate change

These includes;

The Industrial Revolution,

Agriculture,

Deforestation,

transportation

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