Global warming and its implications for conservation.

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1 Global warming and its implications for conservation. 4. Greenhouse gasses and the lapse rate The layer model is a reasonable heuristic model, but it assumes that the atmosphere acts as a perfect blackbody in the IR range, absorbing and emitting all frequencies. The take home points to eliminate this assumption, are: 1. The atmosphere is not a blackbody for IR light: Most of the gas molecules in the atmosphere don t interact with IR at all. The gasses that do interact with IR act differently at different frequencies. 2. So, some bands of light pass the atmosphere as if it wasn t there: the atmospheric window of frequencies. 3. Some wavelengths are completely absorbed, then re-radiated. 4. Some waevelengths are partially absorbed, then re-radiated. 5. The degree to which a wavelength band is absorbed (band saturation) affects the impact (w.r.t. temperature change) of adding a single molecule that absorbs in that frequency. 6. The position of a wavelength that a gas absorbs/emits, relative to the radiation spectrum of earthshine, also affects the impact (w.r.t. temperature change) of adding a single molecule that absorbs in that frequency. 7. In the real atmosphere, gasses absorb light at one temperature (surface temperature) and then re-radiate at a lower temperature (skin temperature). The difference in temperature is the lapse rate, due to adiabatic cooling. Consequently, the EM energy emitted at the atmospheric skin is less than the energy absorbed from the surface. Heat is trapped as a consequence, until the total energy budget is in balance (a negative feedback loop).

2 Composition of the atmosphere Because gasses are compressible and change volume depending on pressure, express concentrations as percentage of molecules present, the mixing ratio. Nitrogen 78.1% Oxygen 20.9% CO % 0.038% = = 380 ppm Equivalently, can express concentrations as partial pressures, measuring the contribution of each component to the total pressure of the gas: 380 ppm = 380 µatm = pco 2 Atmospheric CO 2 is currently rising 1.5 ppm/year. Interaction of gasses and EM radiation Recall earlier discussion of chemical bonds oscillating at characteristic frequency, which allows them to absorb and emit light of that frequency. The major gasses (nitrogen and oxygen) are present as N 2 and O 2 : symmetric molecules with two identical atoms on each end of a single chemical bond. Stretching or bending these molecules: does not create partial charges at different parts of the molecule, does not alter the electromagnetic field around the molecule, invisible to EM radiation. not greenhouse gasses. Ohead: Archer Fig 4.1 & 4.2 H 2 0 and CO 2 have more than one bond, so stretching or bending them creates partial charges at different parts of the molecule, creating partial charges that interact with the EM field. When light of the correct frequency hits the molecule, it bends or stretches it the light is absorbed and later re-radiated the frequency of absorbed and re-radiated light from the molecule is the same the intensity of re-radiation (amount of energy re-radiated) depends on temperatute (Stefan- Boltzmann Law) Ohead: Archer Fig. 2.4 & Archer Fig 4.3

3 Note that N and O can be combined into a nitrous oxide N 2 O molecule that has two bonds, and if bent or stretched N 2 0 does alter the EM field, so it does absorb/emit light, and is a greenhouse gas. Ohead: Goudie Table 7.2 Gasses absorb IR at one temperature (surface temperature) and then radiate to space at a lower temperature (skin temperature). The difference in temperature is the lapse rate, due to adiabatic cooling. Consequently, the EM energy emitted at the atmospheric skin is less than the energy absorbed from the surface. Heat is trapped as a consequence, until the total energy budget is in balance (a negative feedback loop). Archer Fig. 4.3 shows the profile of IR radiated to space, compared to the blackbody spectrum, for a range of temperatures, 220K 300K 300K = hot summer day (27C) (K C: C = K 273. C F: F = C x ) 220K = coldest point of atmosphere, at the tropopause about 15 km ASL (-53C, -64F) IR is absorbed by greenhouse gasses at a mean temperature of ~270K, in the lower atmosphere near the surface IR is radiated to space at ~220K, the skin temperature at the tropopause. The loss of radiated energy (absorption of energy) due to each gas is shown on the Figure, as a difference between the blackbody spectra for 270K and 220K. Wavelengths in the atmospheric window (at wave numbers around 900 cycles/cm) pass through freely, so they follow the blackbody spectrum for 270K. Other wavelengths are absorbed partially or fully (at 270), then re-radiated (at 220) by H 2 0, CO 2, O 3 and CH 4. The missing area measures reduction in outgoing energy flux. The biggest effect of greenhouse gasses on the actual IR spectrum of the earth at the boundary with space is due to CO 2, due to bending of CO 2 by light w/wave number around 700 cycles/cm. Because this is the peak of the earthshine spectrum, big reductions in outgoing IR arise. Ohead: Archer Fig 4.4

6 Ohead: Archer Fig 6.11 an example of one of the outputs from a GCM, in this case a map of surface winds at a given time step. Model runs then predict the climate. Hindcasts are used to evaluate the model Ohead: Hindcast evaluation of HadCM3 Coupled AOGCMs that are evaluated as performing well by the IPCC are then used for forecasting. E.g. evaluating climate with increased CO 2. Ohead: Forecasts from major models for the SRES A2 scenario (business as usual). As discussed a few lectures back, averaging across multiple runs of multiple models is one way of reducing error and assessing uncertainty of predictions. 2. Increasing temperature affects the water vapor content, which affects the lapse rate, which affects the temperature. And H 2 0 vapor is itself a greenhouse gas. Feedback loops such as this are important in determining the real world consequences of CO 2. Clouds, ice albedo and ocean circulation are involved in important feedback loops, some positive (amplifying) and some negative (stabilizing). Ice albedo: warming sea ice melts albedo increases warming accelerates Clouds: can be positive or negative feedback depending on what type of clouds form, because different clouds block incoming light and outgoing IR to different degrees: High clouds are warming (positive feedback) because they block little incoming light but have a big IR effect (because they are cold, so re-radiate at low intensity) Low clouds are cooling: they have little IR effect (because they are low, thus closer to surface temperature) but are usually dense so they have high albedo (cause lots of reflection). Differences in the modeled effects of these details underlie the uncertainties in the forecast. Ohead: Goudie Table 8.1 also first climate change lecture oheads) Homework: Archer CH 4 questions 1,2 & 3, using the MODTRAN model of the IR spectrum radiated to space at

7 Climate models are systems of differential equations based on the basic laws of physics, fluid motion, and chemistry. To run a model, scientists divide the planet into a 3-dimensional grid, apply the basic equations, and evaluate the results. Atmospheric models calculate winds, heat transfer, radiation, relative humidity, and surface hydrology within each grid and evaluate interactions with neighboring points.

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9 Climate model forecasts under the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios SRES A2 emissions scenario relative to global average temperatures in The A2 scenario is characterized by a politically and socially diverse world that exhibits sustained economic growth but does not address the inequities between rich and poor nations, and takes no special actions to combat global warming or environmental change issues. This world in 2100 is characterized by large population (15 billion), high total energy use, and moderate levels of fossil fuel dependency (mostly coal). See for more on this scenario and others.

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