Unit 1 - Climate Change

  • Created by: Tomdell
  • Created on: 28-04-17 10:28

Natural Causes

Milankovitch Cycles

  • Stretch - The Earth's orbit around the world chnages. It is closest in January and furthest in July
  • Tilt - The angle of the Earth changes from 21.8 to 24.4 so as it tilts different places will recive different levels of sunlight
  • Wobble - As the wobble passes the seasons will change over time

 Other Causes

  • Variations in Solar Output - Sunspots are darker areas of the sun which increase solar output, these increase and decrease over an 11 year cycle. mini ice age is an example of low sunspot activity.
  • Meteor Impact - Huge amounts of debris is thrown up into the atmosphere, blocking solar radiation. Extreme cases can lead to nuclear winter.
  • Volcanic Eruptions - Large amounts of debris is ejected into the atmosphere blocking sunlight. the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo cooled the earth by 0.5 degrees the following year. 
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Human Causes

  • Destruction of carbon dioxide sinks
  • Deforestation
  • Melting the permaforst
  • Fossil fuel combustion
  • Cement production
  • Waste Dumps
  • Rice Paddies
  • Fertilizers
  • Chemical solvents
  • Liquid coolants
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Green House Gasses

Carbon Dioxide

  • Atmospheric Lifetime: 100 years
  • Global Warming Potential: 1
  • Causes: Fossil fuel combustion, Cement production  


  • Atmospheric Lifetime: 12 years
  • Global Warming Potential: 25
  • Causes: Fossil fuels, Waste dumps, Rice paddies 

Nitrus Oxide

  • Atmospheric Lifetime: 114 years
  • Global Warming Potential: 298
  • Causes: Fertilizers, Combustion

Tropsosheric Ozone

  • Atmospheric Lifetime: 1-2 days
  • Global Warming Potential: N/A
  • Causes: Fossil fuel combustion, Chemical solevants


  • Atmospheric Lifetime: 100 years
  • Global Warming Potential: 10,900
  • Causes: Liquid Coolants, Foams
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Evidence of Climate Change

Long Term

  • Ice Core - Extract columns of ice then analyse the gases to give a guide to the temperature on an almost yearly basis, going back 400,000 years
  • Pollen analysis - Preserved in sediment so can be analysed to see when the pollen was released up to 15,000 years ago 

Medium Term

  • Dendrochronology - Thickness of tree rings indicates growth rate which allows temperature at the time to be calculated
  • Retreating Glaciers - Scientists can see where they used to be and how much they've retreated

Short Term

  • Weather Record Data - Record of weather patterns collected since 1861
  • Ecosystems Change - A shift in Ecosystems can be evidence of climate change
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Mitigation Strategies

  • Carbon Taxing - Tax companies or indivduals who produce CO2. This can discourage overconsumption
  • Change Energy Mix - Transition from fossil fuels to renewable or nuclear power
  • Modify Agriculture - Use different feed for animals or promote reduced meat consumption
  • Energy Conservation - Use A+ energy appliances to reduce energy waste and insulate walls and loft
  • Waste Strategies - Reduce consumption and introduce recycling schemes
  • Afforestation - Replant trees to create new carbon sinks
  • Carbon Offsetting - Companies can plant trees to offset their CO2 usage  
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Adaptation Strategies

  • Lifestyle Adaptation - Plant drought resistant crops
  • Community Awareness - Educate Communities on the potential imacts and how to prepare for them
  • Flood Adaptations - Better physical defences, floating villages and better warning systems
  • Improved Risk Assessment - Buildings constructed in safer areas
  • Water Management - Be more efficient with water to trough installing water meters to avoid droughts
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Kyoto Protocol

  • International Agreement - 180 Countries pledged to cut emissions by 2012
  • Groups - Countries divided into two groups, Developed and Developing
  • Developed Countries - Must cut emissions by 5%
  • Developing Countries - Do not need to cut emissions, they simply need to monitor and report
  • Carbon Credits - Countries are given a limit as to how many emissions they can produce. Any leftover emissions can be sold to other countries. Credits can also be earnt by Reducing emissions in other countries 
  • Downfalls - Criticised over lack of punishments for those who do not cut. Many also argue that smaller countries cutting emissions will do nothing considering the USA and China are still producing emissions 
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Key Players

  • Government - Develop stratagies on how to cope with climate change
  • Businesses - Can either lobby to reduce restrictions or invest in green technology
  • NGO's - Lobby to have goverment add more restrictions or run campaigns
  • Communities - Recycle and use energy saving products to reduce carbon footprint  
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The Arctic - Case Study

Environmental Impacts

  • Melting Ice sheet will inject fresh water into the sea. This can disrupt ocean current patterns and weather patterns.
  • The Melting Permafrost will release Methane and C02
  • Areas of coastline may be lost to sea level rise

Socio-Economic Impacts

  • Shrinking Ice can open up new shipping routes from USA and China
  • New natural resources could be revealed, this may lead to conflict
  • Temperature increase could lead to more farmland

Ecological Impacts

  • Loss of the Polar Bear due to inability to adapt
  • Krill (Keystone species) will be killed as a result of the increased temperature of the water
  • Fish stocks may be reduced
  • Alien species (Green Crab) can endanger native species
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Africa - Case Study


  • Areas which are dry and arid are receiving less precipitation, Wetter areas are recieving more
  • The whole continent as warmed by 0.5 degrees
  • Subsistance farmers are most at risk as weather patterns become unpredictable
  • Temperature increase has allowed mosquitoes to breed at higer altitudes and reach more places. This can decrease tourism due to negative perception
  • Accelerated desertification
  • Reduced growing season, may result on countries becoming dependent on food aid
  • Rivers and water sources will become more contested and may lead to conflict
  • Extreme weather becomes more common


  • African countries have a low capacity to cope as they cannot afford to send aid to their people
  • Political organisation and Civil war have hindered development
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