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Global Warming

Mission Plan

a. Analysis of the Problem

1. History of the Problem

Some scientist’s have been concerned since 1896 about what might happen

if there were 5.5 billion tons carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. In 1961 a

British scientist did an experiment showing that the carbon in the air was

absorbing some of the sun’s radiation. Afterward a Swedish scientist, Suante

Arrhenius, found out if the radiation of the sun was trapped in the carbon

dioxide the temperature of the earth would increase by 1-2 degrees. In 1988

James Hanson, a respected scientist, told the U.S. Congress “the greenhouse

effect is occurring now and it’s changing global climate.”(1989 Koral). After

the 1900’s people started making factories and started using fossil fuels like

coal, oil, and aluminum. It was the industrial revolution and overpopulation of

humans that was the cause of the environmental problems that we have today.

2. Human Activity Causing the Problem

The reason our Earth is getting hotter is that human activities are

emitting too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The radiation from the

sun gets trapped in the bag of carbon dioxide that surrounds our earth.

One main reason for the problem of global warming is the burning of

fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are coal, oil and natural gases. We use these fuels

to run factories, power plants, cars, trucks, buses, air conditioning and etc.

The people of the earth are putting 5.5 billion tons of carbon, in the form of

carbon dioxide in the air every year! Seventy five percent of this is fossil


3. Impact Causing Global Change

For many years, scientists have been predicting that our disregard for

Mother Nature would make the climatic temperature of this Earth to increase

greatly. There have been arguments that the whole idea of Global Warming is a

hoax, that the temperature cycle is just experiencing an upward trend and will

eventually come back down. Now, however, we are starting to see the evidence of

our behavior.

Remember the great heat wave in Chicago? That could have been a

consequence of global warming. Nearly a hundred people died, and the city’s

economy came to a standstill. A much more tragic but less known heat wave

smashed into India, causing upward of 600 deaths.

Global Warming doesn’t only increase temperatures in hot areas. It also

decreases temperatures in cold areas. An example of this has been the cold

spell that struck the midwest. In Montana, temperatures plummeted to 30 degrees

below and stayed there. The coldest weather ever recorded plagued our country’s

heart for over three weeks, and still hasn’t returned to normal. A related

incident has been the blizzards of the east coast. Some places in New York

State got over twenty feet of snow.

On a Native Island, where native tribes live, if the sea level rises

three fourths of a meter then half of the island will sink. This will happen in

many different islands around the world and if the water keeps on rising as it

is, then farming land near the seashores will be flooded and the crops will be


Like California and other states, we are adding CO2 and changing the

earth’s weather. Some places are getting too little water which causes a

drought and other places get too much water which causes a flood.

In California, there was an almost permanent drought during the

eighties. This was gone in the nick of time by the great rainstorms of 1995.

We also experienced a frightening cold spell in 1992.

The Road Ahead

With all these obvious scourges plaguing us now, it seems that things

cannot get any worse. However, the current droughts, floods, and storms are just

the tip of the iceberg. If the greenhouse effect continues unabated, then the

inhabitants of Planet Earth have some surprises in store.

Scientists estimate that the global temperature will rise between 5 and

9 degrees by the middle of the 21st century, accompanied by a sea-level rise of

one to four feet. Five degrees may not seem like a drastic change, but in the

last ice age at the beginning of the Quaternary period, the average temperature

was only five degrees colder than it is now. Thus, our actions our warming the

earth enough to break out of an ice age.

Once the temperature reaches a certain threshold, the polar ice caps

will began to melt. While those living in the Arctic may find that a welcome

surprise, the implications for the rest of the world are serious. Even a partial

melting of the polar ice caps will cause sea levels to rise so much as to

completely wipe out most coastal cities. This includes such cultural centers as

San Francisco and New York. Those cities that survive will be battered down by

hurricanes much more severe than anything seen in history. Of course, inland

cities are not immune either. Rather than floods, they will face drought. So

while half the world is swimming to work, the other half will be crawling on

their knees with a scorching sun beating against their backs.

When drinkable water is a scarcity, it will become a commodity that

represents political power. The countries with water will be the countries with

power. This means there will be a political upheaval of global proportions. Life

as our children know it will be completely different, and not necessarily for

the better. With most of America’s lakes dried up and its major trading ports

under several feet of salt water, perhaps we won’t be the economical leader.

If we don’t start trying to stop global warming from happening now,

there will be many more consequences. Another consequence will be that there

will be high raises in temperature, affecting human life by causing skin cancer,

damaging the human immune, and causing cataracts. Raises in temperature will

also affect agricultural and aquatic life. Also, many species will die off. And

in the forests or maybe animals, there could be medicines to cure some kind of

disease. The way these cancers and diseases come to be is because the sun

deadly rays like UV rays, which mutate human cells.

b. Experimental Design

1. Restate Problem

Natural occurrences are not the only caused and influences of our

atmosphere changing. Human activities also cause the atmosphere to change.

Fossil fuels burning is producing a worldwide increase in the atmosphere

concentration of carbon dioxide. If atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to

increase at the present rate, studies estimate that the average surface

temperature will rise 2 degrees Celsius by the middle of the next century. This

will be a climate change greater than any other ever experienced in history,

that we know of. The four main greenhouse gases are Carbon Dioxide (CO2),

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Methane (CH4), and Nitrous Oxide (N2O). With the

exception of CFCs, all these gases are found in nature. It is the recent

explosion of the human population that has caused an exponential increase in

their atmospheric presence.

Although nature has provisions for removing carbon dioxide, it does not

take into account the human factor. The long, complicated carbon cycle can only

keep up with increasing human activity if the tree population increases

proportionately. Due to modern medicine and increased awareness of nutrition and

health, the human race has managed to extend its lifespan considerably, thereby

releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere. This, combined with an alarming rate of

rainforest depletion and air pollution, leads to an unmanageable amount of CO2

in the atmosphere. Since its sources are both natural and human, carbon dioxide

is the largest contributor to the greenhouse effect, at 50%.

As far as CFCs, our only excuse is that “it seemed a good idea at the

time.” When they were first invented, they seemed to be the miracle chemical of

the century. Because of their low boiling point, CFCs could act as coolers in

refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners. Also, they were used to make

Styrofoam and as aerosol propellants. As it turns out, they are as skilled at

destruction as they are at refrigerating. Scientists discovered in the 1970’s

that CFCs destroy ozone, starting an international ban on their usage. Later, it

was determined that CFCs contribute to global warming as well, making them a

dangerous double whammy. CFCs are no longer used in aerosol and Styrofoam,

however most refrigerators still contain freon, a CFC. Fortunately, the freon

can be recycled. Contributing to 25% of global warming, CFCs are still a major

problem, but at least the U.S. and the other powers have recognized it as such.

Methane, also known as a natural gas, contributes 15% to the greenhouse effect.

It is caused by cows and rice paddies. The major American demand for so much

beef urges foreign farmers to clear forests for pastures. This also causes an

increase in carbon dioxide, as well as a cow population so high that the

methane-rich burps of the complex digestive system are a major contributing

factor to the greenhouse effect. Add to that the methane released from natural

sources, and you have a very large problem. The ten percent that is left comes

from nitrous oxide, a common pollutant. It, along with carbon dioxide, forms the

major part of car exhaust. Half a billion cars drive the streets of the world

today, a number expected to double by 2030. N2O is also released by the burning

of fossil fuels. Finally, it finds its way into the atmosphere from nitrogen

fertilizers, which are used heavily by today’s modern farmers. Overall there

are many pollutants in our atmosphere, influenced by humans, and by natural

effects. In our opinion if any member of this country wants to live in a good

environment then they have to take charge and to make a difference even if you

have to become a vegetarian so there will not be CO2 from the animals.

2. Hypothesis

If we continue to pollute the air with methane gases and don’t do

anything about it, then the average global temperature will rise and there will

be many consequences. Warming expands ocean water and may melt some glaciers.

The sea level could rise one foot in the next 35 years and two in the next 100.

Hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme storms may become more frequent.

Centers of large continents, such as the U.S. Great Plains, may be drier even if

the overall world rainfall increases somewhat. Heat waves may be more common.

Movement of just 1 percent of a future population of 6 billion people due to

higher sea level, drought, or other climate change would produce 60 million

migrants, many times the number of all refugees today. Impact mixed. Carbon

dioxide stimulates plant growth. However, heat increases demand for water.

Growing zones will shift if weather patterns change. Warming that expands the

tropics will also expand the range of tropical diseases such as malaria and

other insect borne maladies. Possible mass extinction may occur as conditions

change faster than species can move or adapt. Urban and agriculture development

leaves few wilderness corridors for migration.

3. EOS Satellite

The Earth Observing System (EOS) Data and Information System (EOSDIS) is

NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth’s (MTPE) project to provide access to Earth

Science data. EOSDIS manages data from NASA’s past and current Earth science

research satellites and field measurement programs, providing data archiving,

distribution, and information management services. During the EOS era–

beginning with the launch of the TRMM satellite in 1997 EOSDIS will command and

control satellites and instruments, and will generate useful products from

orbital observations. EOSDIS will also generate data sets made by assimilation

of satellite and in situ observations into global climate models.

The instrument that we chose that monitors the impact of human activity

is HIRDLS. HIRDLS is an infrared limb-scanning radiometer designed to sound the

upper troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere to determine temperature; the

concentrations of O3, H3O, CH4, N2O, NO2, HNO3, N2O5, CFC11, CFC12, and

aerosols; and the locations of polar stratospheric clouds and cloud tops. The

goals are to provide sounding observations with horizontal and vertical

resolution superior to that previously obtained; to observe the lower

stratosphere with improved sensitivity and accuracy; and to improve

understanding of atmospheric processes through data analysis, diagnostics, and

use of two- and three-dimensional models.

HIRDLS performs limb scans in the vertical at multiple azimuth angles,

measuring infrared emissions in 21 channels ranging from 6.12 to 17.76 um. Four

channels measure the emission by CO2. Taking advantage of the known mixing ratio

of CO2, the transmittance is calculated, and the equation of radiative transfer

is inverted to determine the vertical distribution of the Planck black body

function, from which the temperature is derived as a function of pressure. Once

the temperature profile has been established, it is used to determine the Planck

function profile for the trace gas channels. The measured radiance and the

Planck function profile are then used to determine the transmittance of each

trace species and its mixing ratio distribution.

Winds and threatening tornados are determined from spacial variations of

the height of geopotential surfaces. These are determined at upper levels by

integrating the temperature profiles vertically from a known reference base.

HIRDLS will improve knowledge of data-sparse regions by measuring the height

variations of the reference surface provided by customary sources with the aid

of a gyro package. This level, which is near the base of the stratosphere can

also be blended downward using nadir temperature soundings to improve

tropospheric analyses.


“Climate Change Brings Trouble”. The Earth Care Annual 1993. Emmaus:

Rodale Press, 1993

?EOS? http://eos.nasa.gov/ Logon November 3, 1996

“Global Warming” http://users.aimnet.com/~hyatt/gw/gw.html Logon October 25,


?Global Warming?. Microsoft Encarta 95, Microsoft, 1994.

?HIRDL? http://eos.acd.ucar.edu/hirdls/home.html Logon November 1, 1996

Newton, David. Global Warming A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara:

ABC-CLIO, 1993

Silver, Cheryl. One Earth, One Future, Our Changing Global Environment.

Washington D.C., National Academy Press, 1990

Woodwell, George. The Rising Tide Global Warming and World Sea Levels.

Washington D.C., Island Press, 1991

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