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Blowin' in the Wind, Issue #063 Global Warming And Weather - February 1, 2009
January 28, 2009
Global Warming And Weather
You might hear than an increase in the temperature is all there is to global warming and weather. But wait, there's more. You might hear people dismiss the phenomenon, saying it'd be nice if it snowed less often.
However, global warming is a misnomer. In some parts of the world, climate change could actually make it colder! If you're not sure how global warming climate changes will affect you and other people around the world, now's the time to learn. Global warming and the weather are closely linked, though it might not be apparent at first. Here's some basic information to help you.
Effects of Global WarmingAn increase in world temperature has a strong chance of leading to an increase in precipitation. It's also been said that this could lead to stronger storms and more extreme weather. However, this link between global warming and weather is less strongly documented. The general feeling, produced by hurricane modeling, is that a warmer climate will produce fewer hurricanes, but that they'll be much stronger.
Evaporation rates also go up all over the world. Warmer oceans mean more water being pulled from the surface of the earth. More precipitation will mean that this water will fall again. However, weather patterns mean that the rain may not fall in the same place where it evaporated from. Greater erosion is expected, as well as desertification - the creation of new and larger deserts, particularly in Africa. In other areas, this increased evaporation and rainfall may produce flooding.
Glaciers, which grew during the Little Ice Age (a period of cooling between 1550 and 1850), have been retreating. They retreated up until 1940 or so, then a slight global cooling occurred between the 1950s and the 1980s. Since then, glaciers have been retreating at a much faster pace.
What does that mean in regards to global warming and weather?Glacier retreat has been attributed to global warming, and a reduction in the size and number of glaciers can have serious results. Not only does the water added to the local area increase overflow of glacial lakes and the severity and frequency of landslides and flash floods, but it also reduces water availability for many areas (as the water retreats). Melting glaciers could cause ocean levels to rise, swamping the coasts in some areas and affecting world weather patterns.
Carbon dioxide and global warming are also related. The increase in the overall temperature of the earth has been attributed to human production of carbon dioxide. There are some who disagree with this causal linkage, but most do agree that warming occurs and that carbon dioxide levels have increased. What does that mean for the weather?
Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide cause the oceans - a storehouse of this gas - to become more acidic. This is because carbon dioxide becomes a weak acid in water. This can cause plants and animals in the water to die as acidification increases and can reduce the oceans' ability to absorb more of this gas. If that occurs and global warming is connected to CO2 emissions, more of this gas will build up in the atmosphere. That will raise the temperature further and cause more erratic weather patterns as described above.
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