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6 Climate Change Bradley Deline 6.1 Introduction Climate is an average of the long-term weather patterns across a geographic area, which is a...
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Page | 121 6.1 INTRODUCTION Climate is an average of the long-term weather patterns across a geographic ar- ea, which is a complicated metric controlled by factors within the lithosphere, at- mosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and anthrosphere as well as factors beyond our own planet. It is helpful to separate out humans from other life (anthro - sphere verses biosphere) for several reasons, primarily because many of our activi- ties are unique amongst life (industrialization) and it is helpful in understanding our role in climate change. Therefore, the science examining past, current, and future climate is extremely complex and interdisciplinary. You may not think of climate as a geological Feld of study, but the history of climate is recorded within rocks, the current climate is altered by geologic events, and future climate will be in±uenced by our use of geological resources such as fossil fuels. In addition to the complex nature of this subject, it is also one, if not the most, important scientiFc Felds of study both in terms of understanding the dynamics and implications of future climate change as well as attempting to combat or mitigate the potential e²ects. Though the basic science behind climate and climate change has been well studied to a point of near consensus within the scientiFc community, there is still signiFcant debate amongst the broader population. This is likely related to many factors beyond science including economics, politics, the portrayal of the science by the media, and the overall public’s scientiFc literacy. Gaining a better under - standing of this issue is di³cult given the enormous wealth of information and disparity in scientiFc literacy. This lab will explore this issue by examining climate data as well as how we, as scientists or scientiFc minded citizens, make interpreta - tions and conclusions regarding data, how it is presented, and how it relates to our understanding of the world around us. 6.1.1 Learning Outcomes After completing this chapter, you should be able to: • Describe the climate system and how di²erent variables are related 6 Climate Change Bradley Deline
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Page | 122 INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY CLIMATE CHANGE Discuss how ancient climate patterns are reconstructed Plot, interpret, and explain the patterns in climate proxy data focusing on the sea ice extent in the North and South Poles Describe how heat is transported across the earth and how this can relate to local climate Describe the information needed to make conclusions regarding scientifc patterns and how climate models should be constructed 6.1.2 Key Terms 6.2 THE CLIMATE SYSTEM As was previously mentioned, climate is the long-term weather pattern across a region. It is important to emphasize the long-term portion oF the defnition to estab - lish that climate is di±erent From weather. Weather is the local and short-term pat - terns in temperature, humidity, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, wind, and oth- er meteorological variables. As you well know, weather ²uctuates throughout the day, week, month, and year such that it is di³cult to see any trends beyond the ran - dom noise in the system. If you take a long-term view of weather we can begin to see patterns across time and geography that help to better understand and identify the Factors that in²uence the climate system. The climate system is the interconnect- ed network oF variables that in²uence the earth’s climate, which includes components from the litho- sphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, bio- sphere, anthrosphere, and solar system. The heat that feeds this system comes from two primary sources. First, there is heat radiating from the Earth itself, which is coming from the decay of radioactive material and residual heat from the formation of the earth. This heat is not distributed equally, with more heat escaping in areas where the crust is thinner, such as divergent boundaries. More signifcantly, the earth receives heat From solar radiation. Again, this heat is not distributed equally across the earth’s surface and the amount of energy received is related to the angle at which Albedo Climate Proxies Climate System Greenhouse Gases Ice Extent Negative Feedback Ocean Gyres Positive Feedback Figure 6.1 | The Earth’s shape in- fuences the angle at which the sun’s rays hit the surface from perpen- dicular at the equator to parallel at the poles. This creates large climate differences across the Earth. Author: Bradley Deline Source: Original Work License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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