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According toHoughton (2004), global warming is the increase or rise of average or normal temperature on the planet Earth.
Global warming can also be defined as the average increase in temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface and in the troposphere; this temperature increase contributes to changes in global climate patterns (Maslin 2007).
Global warming may be defined as slight but noticeable increase in the average temperature in relation to the planetary scale. If this temperature is not controlled or checked, it may lead to erratic climatic conditions that may cause natural disasters, reduced food and agricultural production, pervasive weather conditions, extinction of species and death of humans (Tabin 2008).
Green house gases are harmful gases that if emitted into the atmosphere, trap the sun’s rays and light to cause the green house effect. Examples of these gases include methane, carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and nitrous oxide (Tabin 2008).
Description of Global Warming
Global warming occurs due to an increase of temperature on Earth. This may happen due to natural or man made causes. Global warming adversely affects man’s survival. Therefore, there is an urgent need to control it. Concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causes green house effect (Tabin 2008). Examples of greenhouse gases include carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide (Haldar 2011). These gases trap the rays and light from the sun. This causes a rise in temperature, hence, global warming.
Deforestation or cutting down of trees without planting other trees causes global warming. Trees help to purify the air by using carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Thus, deforestation ensues in air pollution. This increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide traps the sun’s heat causing green house effect (Watkins 2007).
Burning of fossil fuels emits large amounts of carbon dioxide into atmosphere. For instance, burning of coal in power generating plants releases a lot of carbon dioxide into the air (Stern 2006). The increasing number of motor vehicles on our roads produces excessive amounts of carbon dioxide which leads to the increase in temperatures.
Characteristics of Global Warming
There are several features of global warming evidenced in the world today. The major characteristic that best defines global warming is the increase in temperatures on the surface of the Earth and in the atmosphere (Maslin 2007). Global warming is a known cause of climate change. Therefore, climate change becomes an effect of global warming.
Oceans usually absorb carbon dioxide. The increase of the amount of carbon dioxide in the water leads to higher concentration of the same gas in the water. Consequently, oxygen is depleted in the water. This poses danger to aquatic plants and animals.
Global warming is also characterized by changes in solar intensity. Solar activity significantly influences the climate of a place. Scorching sun rays may melt snow on mountains. Snow on mountains attracts tourists who bring foreign exchange to the countries they visit. This revenue helps to boost the economies of these countries. Recession of ice due to global warming leads to the decay of travel industry, hence, less foreign exchange is earned.
The rise in seal levels and recession or melting of snow on high mountains is also a feature of global warming. When the solar intensity increases, ice melts on high mountains (Maslin 2007). There might be increased evaporation rates leading to heavy downpours. These downpours may cause flooding in areas that have never experienced floods. Storms may also occur in such areas. Both storms and floods kill people and animals apart from causing massive destruction of property (Stern 2006).
However, increased evaporation rates due to global warming may have a positive effect especially to the areas that receive very little amounts of rainfall. Enough rainfall might be received, and this may stimulate agricultural practices such as farming (Kasper 2009). Water may be available in semi arid and arid regions. This becomes a positive effect for people living in these areas. The negative effect is that global warming impacts negatively on fresh water ecosystems around the world.
Measuring the Effects of Global Warming
There are various factors that are considered while measuring global warming effects and climate change. First, the primary means of measuring global warming effects is detecting temperatures of the Earth (Kasper 2009). The temperature of the Earth and the sea surface may be measured to determine global warming in different parts of the world.
The increase in temperature in cold regions is advantageous because the people will not have to warm these areas for their survival (Houghton 2004). Warming is also expensive as it needs special equipments and a lot of electricity. This will prevent people and animals from dying from the cold that is prevalent in the cold regions. On the contrary, desert regions, for instance, the Sahara region in Africa, may be inhabitable. The death rates in these regions may increase due to the heightened temperatures (Tabin 2008).
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Precipitation is a good indicator of global warming and climate change. Global warming cause deserts become even drier due to the little precipitation received. The little precipitation may lead to starvation, malnutrition among children and a rise in number of deaths due to the lack of food.
On the other hand, global warming also leads to increased precipitation in some areas. This may cause flooding which may cause deaths. On the contrary, farmers may plant crops and get profit from their farming activities due to the sufficient rainfall.
Tracking the levels of green houses gases and determining the different ratios of oxygen isotopes can be used to measure the chemical compositions of air and water (Watkins 2007). This will help to create a correlation between the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the Earth’s temperature.
Sea level measurements may be carried out to determine if the water levels are rising or falling (Haldar 2011). The degree of ice on high elevations, such as mountains, may also be determined. If the ice is receding, then, probably, global warming is taking place.