Thursday, January 9, 2014

Understanding Global Warming: Oceans are the Engine that Drives Climate

Aurora Borealis from the space stataion
(NASA)
Global warming refers to the rise in temperatures at the surface of the earth causing changes in the ocean currents. You may remember lots of discussion about El Nino changing off the coast of Peru. Since the oceans are the engine that drives climate even a small rise in temp at the earth's surface has an effect on climate.

Weather is an element of climate but it is not the same as climate. Weather is rain, hot temps, tornadoes, freezing temps, etc. that the meteorologist explains for us each day about our local area. The weather trends have been changing over a few decades as global warming at the ocean's surface causes a shift in the climate.

The reason carbon dioxide (CO2) is mentioned more than the other greenhouse gasses is because the places that absorbed atmospheric CO2 in the past are disappearing (like the Amazon forest). During certain periods of earth's history the ocean is the largest sink for CO2. When the carbon sinks are full or missing, the CO2 remains in the atmosphere which increases the greenhouse effect and in turn that adds to the small increments of increased temps at the earth's surface. The carbon cycle is critical to all life on earth and should be kept in balance for high quality living conditions.


For a more careful explanation of the terms used see Global Warming and Climate Change: Cause and Effect 

Alternative energy sources that do not require fossil fuels are available in many forms, as many as the human brain can devise.

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