Climate Change : The Greenhouse Gases

1409 WordsApr 23, 20176 Pages
“The Greenhouse Effect” or “Greenhouse gases” have become somewhat of scary concepts in relation to climate change. In fact, without the Greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the Earth would be 5F rather than the current average at 59F. Greenhouse gases are composed mostly of water vapor, but also carbon dioxide, methane, and certain types of clouds. These gases lie in the troposphere of the atmosphere and allows the shortwave radiation of the sun to pass through the atmosphere and warm the Earth’s surface as energy is absorbed, while the longwave radiation is delayed from being transmitted back into space through greenhouse gases. The waves are absorbed by greenhouse gases and bounced back to the Earth’s surface, conserving…show more content…
Another technique that is used is obtaining information of past climate from ice cores. Scientists drill deep into glaciers and compare the oxygen isotopes o16 and o18 which are often found in water and calcium carbonate molecules. O16 is the lighter isotope and precipitation tends to be abundant in o16. When temperatures are high, more water vapor containing o18 is in the atmosphere, so analyzing the o16/18 ratio in ice cores can act as a thermometer for the past. This oxygen isotope analysis can be used in oceanic sediments as well as coral reefs. Many of the most important ice cores have been taken from Dome C in Antarctica where the arctic cap is at it’s thickest. Scientists have been able to obtain cores that are more than 2 miles deep and provide climate and atmospheric data dating back 800,000 years that includes eight glacial/interglacial cycles. These cores have shown that global temperature is correlated with greenhouse gas concentration. Pollen analysis can also provide data on temperatures and atmospheric conditions of the past. Pollen from trees and other plants that are preserved in the sediment of bogs or lakes are radiocarbon dated providing age of the organic material that is younger than 50,000 years old. The isotope of carbon c14 decays over time at a known rate into the stable isotope of nitrogen, n14. C12 is a stable isotope
Open Document