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In this module, the Chapter Climate and Global Change is introduced, previewing the content of the modules included in the chapter.

Module by: Jonathan Tomkin

The Earth’s climate is changing. The scientific consensus is that by altering the composition of the atmosphere humans are increasing the average temperature of the Earth’s surface. This process has already begun – the planet is measurably warmer than it was at the start of the last century – but scientists predict the change that will occur over the 21st century will be even greater. This increase will have unpredictable impacts on weather patterns around the globe. We are all experiencing climate change. Our descendants will likely experience far more.

This chapter focuses on the science of climate change. We recognize that climate change can be a controversial subject, and that prescriptions for solutions quickly take on a political character, which can raise suspicions of bias. Some argue that the climate is too complicated to predict, and others suggest that natural variations can explain the observed changes in the climate.

These objections have some merit. It should be no surprise that the Earth’s climate is a complicated subject. First, the atmosphere is vast: it extends over 600 km (370 miles) above the ground, and it weighs over five quadrillion tons (that’s a five followed by 15 zeros). Second, the atmosphere is a dynamic system, creating blizzards, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and all the other weather we experience. And it is true that this dynamic system is largely controlled by natural processes – the Earth’s climate has been changing continually since the atmosphere was produced.

And yet scientists can still confidently say that humans are responsible for the current warming. We can do this because this complicated system obeys underlying principles. In the modules Climate Processes; External and Internal Controls and Milankovitch Cycles and the Climate of the Quaternary , we will describe how these principles work, and how they have been observed by scientists. We can then use these principles to understand how, by producing greenhouse gases, humans are altering the physical properties of the atmosphere in such a way as to increase its ability to retain heat.

In the module Modern Climate Change we show how this theoretical prediction of a warming world is borne out by ever stronger evidence. Temperatures have been measured, and are shown to be increasing. These increases in temperatures are significant and have observable effects on the world: glaciers are shrinking, sea ice is retreating, sea levels are rising – even cherry blossoms are blooming earlier in the year.

In the module Climate Projections , we describe how we can attempt to predict the climate of the future. This is a doubly difficult problem, as it involves not only physics, but, harder yet, people. What will today’s societies do with the foreknowledge of the consequences of our actions? The climate has become yet another natural system whose immediate fate is connected to our own. The reader may find it either reassuring or frightening that we hold the climate’s future in our hands.

Questions & Answers

I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
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?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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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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