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Sulfates, Urban Warming and Permafrost

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  • 1. Sulfates, Urban Warming and Permafrost Sulfates, Urban Warming and Permafrost Professor Hector R Rodriguez School of Business Mount Ida College Business, Society & Environment
  • 2.
    • Society
      • The Corporation and Its Stakeholders
      • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
      • Corporate Citizenship
      • The Social Responsibility of Business
      • The Shareholder Primacy Norm
      • CSR, Citizenship and Sustainability Reporting
      • Responsible Investing
      • The Community and the Corporation
      • Taxation and Corporate Citizenship
      • Corporate Philanthropy Programs
      • Employees and the Corporation
      • Managing a Diverse Workforce
    • Environment
      • A Balanced Look at Climate Change
      • Non-anthropogenic Causes of Climate Change
      • Sulfates, Urban Warming and Permafrost
      • Conventional Energy
      • The Kyoto Protocol
      • Green Building
      • Green Information Technology
      • Transportation, Electric Vehicles and the Environment
      • Geo-Engineering
      • Carbon Capture and Storage
      • Renewable Energy
      • Solid, Toxic and Hazardous Waste
      • Forests, Paper and Carbon Sinks
      • Life Cycle Analysis
      • Water Use and Management
      • Water Pollution
    Course Map – Topics Covered in Course
  • 3.
    • The reason we are concerned about global warming is due to the so-called greenhouse effect; several gases reflect or trap heat, most importantly CO 2
    • They trap the heat emitted by the earth, like a blanket around the globe; the basic effect is good, if the atmosphere did not contain greenhouse gases, the average temperature on Earth would be approximately 59 o colder, or a constant -18 o C.
      • This is by the way the constant temperature above the GHG layer in our atmosphere.
    Temperature Changes
  • 4. The Greenhouse Effect GHG effect increases with increasing concentrations of CO 2
  • 5.
    • The greenhouse gas effect increases with increasing concentration of GHG’s
      • Global GHG emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004
    Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report,” 2007 Emissions of Long-lived Greenhouse Gases
  • 6. Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report,” 2007 Attribution of Temperature Change
  • 7.
    • Why up and down?
      • The majority of the Earth’s vegetation is North of the Equator
      • When the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun during the spring and summer, the leaves come out, the amount of CO 2 decreases worldwide.
      • The leaves fall during fall and winter, CO 2 is released, and the amount of CO 2 in the atmosphere goes up again.
    Source: National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Recent Changes in CO 2 Concentration
  • 8.
    • Global atmospheric concentrations of CO 2 , CH 4 and N 2 O are determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years.
    • Ice cores - collected from glaciers reveal light and dark bands caused by annual snow accumulation on glacier
    Side Note - Studying Climate
      • Gas bubbles can be analyzed for atmospheric composition.
      • Ash and sulfur deposits correlate with volcanic eruptions.
      • Vostok ice core in Antarctica gives us a record back 420,000 years (4 past glacial cycles).
    Studying Climate
  • 9.
    • There are other factors influencing temperature
      • It is hypothesized that sulfate aerosols, produced by burning of fossil fuels, created the cooling effects.
      • The effects were mitigated when scrubbers were put in place in an effort to eliminate acid rain.
      • There seem to be two “knobs” at play; CO 2 and SO 4
    Source: Climate of Extremes, Patrick Michaels, 2009 p. 36-37 Attribution of Temperature Change - Sulfates How about this drop?
  • 10.
    • Urban Warming (Heat Island)
      • The Urban Heat Island Effect refers to the fact that cities can be up to 5-7 º C hotter than the surrounding rural areas. This is due to:
        • Lack of plants
        • Concrete can absorb a lot of heat
        • Tall buildings increase overall surface area for heat absorption
        • Urban Canyon effect
          • Geometry of urban settlements provide multiple surfaces for refection and absorption
          • Blocks cooling via convection
    Attribution of Temperature Change – Urban Warming Atlanta
  • 11.
    • Permafrost - is soil at or below the freezing point of water for two or more years.
      • Most permafrost is located in high latitudes (i.e. land in close proximity to the North and South poles
      • The extent of permafrost can vary as the climate changes. Today, a considerable area of the Arctic is covered by permafrost.
      • General circulation models predict that, for a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide due to anthropogenic sources, mean annual air temperatures may rise up to several degrees over much of the Arctic.
      • In those areas where ground temperatures are within 1-2 degrees of melting, permafrost will likely ultimately disappear as a result of ground thermal changes associated with global climate warming.
    Attribution of Temperature Change - Permafrost
  • 12.
    • Methane, a gas, is about 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO 2
    • The permafrost has acted like a "lid" to prevent large amounts of methane (greater than the total amount of carbon locked up in global coal reserves) from escaping
    Change in permafrost temperatures at various depths in Fairbanks, Alaska Attribution of Temperature Change - Permafrost
  • 13.
    • Some believe that its release could accelerate global warming in a giant positive feedback where more atmospheric methane causes higher temperatures, leading to further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane.
    Attribution of Temperature Change - Permafrost
  • 14.
    • There is high agreement and much evidence that with current climate change mitigation policies and related practices , global GHG emissions will continue to grow over the next few decades.
    The scenarios are grouped into four scenario families (A1, A2, B1 and B2) that explore alternative development pathways, covering a wide range of demographic, economic and technological driving forces and resulting GHG emissions. Conclusion Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report,” 2007 What does it mean?