Week 1: Climate Change – challenges and solutions

Climate change and energy go hand in hand in today’s grand challenge. The energy that we we consume and produce is the singular most common measurement of our ”human” interactions with our enviroment.

Energy coming from the sun is expressed as TSI, Total Solar Irradiance. The measurement is taken at the surface of the earth’s atmosphere. [1] TSI provides the energy that powers the earth’s climate. This measurement is 1.361 kilo⁠watts per square meter (kW/m²). However, not all this energy makes it through the outer atmosphere. The illustration at [2]  shows the measured results of various types of radiant energy and the greenhouse (blanket)effects. We see that the earth also emits energy, heat. Some of this radiation has the exact wavelength that carbon dioxide molecules will absorb. In fact, each of these atmospheric gases, H2O, O3, CH4, N2O, and CFCs, have their own absorption and emission wavelengths. The emission of heat/radiation returns heat to the earth, not all of it, but according to the illustration [2] , of the 350 Watts per square meter, 324 Watts per square meter is returned to earth. The illustration does not demonstrate paticulars such as, albedos (reflectivity of various surfaces).

Land and oceans have ”albedos” producing four different types of ”air masses” depending upon latitude and therefore ”insolation”. [3] Like having four different blankets. These earthly snuggies are, warm and dry over the tropical and subtropical land masses, warm and wet over the ocean at subtropical and tropical areas. Cold and dry ”blankets” are found at the temperate, subpolar and polar land regions, while cold and wet is found in the oceanic areas of temperate, subpolar and polar regions. These ”blankets” differ in temperatures which influence the pressure (pV=nRT) gradients of the ”blanket”. The earth’s atmosphere being a closed system, tossles these ”blankets” about causing ”weather”. (Presently, we shall not account for the important and significant Coriolis Effect.)

Since, we as consumers and producers of energy, obviously are a part of, or at least contributors of the earth’s interactivity of processes. All parts are interdependant.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_solar_irradiance#Solar_irradiance
  2. http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/measuring-solar-activity.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albedo#Climate_and_weather

Om miwinther

Enthusiastic, reserved, sensitive, analytical, mindful,artistic,...curious about the human condition.
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