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Drunken Forests of Siberia
Drunken Forests of Siberia Source: NASA Science blog

graph of annual Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic
2007 Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The oceans’ response

Further dramatic changes brought on by recent warming have been observed by scientists concerned with the world’s oceans. Observations of the world’s coral reefs have revealed an alarming rate of coral bleaching (which is not caused by chlorine). As the oceans attempt to uptake the abundance of CO 2 and absorb nearly 80% of the heat added to the earth-atmosphere system from the enhanced greenhouse effect, the waters will inevitably warm. As these waters have warmed over the past 40 years, the delicate ecological balance within some of the world’s coral reefs has been upset leading to coral bleaching. Under warmer waters the rate at which the algae, which is an important part of the coral ecosystem, undergoes photosynthesis is too much for the coral to manage. As a result, the coral rids itself of the algae, which leads to an exposure of the white skeleton of the coral. Another consequence of warming oceans is an increase in sea level. Since 1880, sea level has risen 20 cm (8 inches). The rise in sea level is associated both with an increase in glacial melt water and in the thermal expansion of the seawater. An interesting consequence of this rise in sea level has been the disappearance of the long-disputed New Moore Island between Bangladesh and India. Both countries laid claim to the shallow, uninhabited island due to the speculation that oil reserves may lie beneath it, but in 2010, the sea swallowed it. Scientists at the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University, Kolkatta , India suggest global warming played an important part.

Coral Bleaching
Coral Bleaching A part of coral that has experienced coral bleaching. Source: NOAA

Finally, as the planet has adjusted to warmer temperatures the proliferation of drought conditions in some regions has dramatically affected human populations. The Sahel, for example, is a border region between the Sahara Desert in the north of Africa and the tropical rainforests that occupy the central part of the continent. (see Figure The Sahel in Africa ) This region is experiencing desertification as the Sahara steadily expands southward. Since the 1970s, the amount of precipitation in this region has been steadily below normal. The combination of over irrigation and recent climate change has made the region uninhabitable and forced millions to relocate.

Map of The Sahel in Africa
The Sahel in Africa Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Graph of the Sahel Rainfall Index
The Sahel Rainfall Index Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Review questions

In Figure Northern Hemisphere Surface Air the dividing line on the graph is the 1961-1990 average temperature. Explain the relevance of this line to the data presented in this figure.

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Explain how deforestation can lead to both a warming effect and cooling effect for global temperatures.

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In Figure Atmospheric Transmission , which gas is contributing the most to the absorption of ultra-violet light? If this gas were removed from the atmosphere, how might global temperatures respond?

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If the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet continues to melt, how will this impact the albedo of this region and what impact will this have on the air temperature there?

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When sea ice melts, what happens to global sea level?

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Walther, G. R., Post, E., Convey, P., Menzel, A., Parmesan, C., Beebee, T. J .C., et al. (2002, March 28). Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature , 416, 389-395. doi: 10.1038/416389a

Questions & Answers

How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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