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UNSW : UNSW Atmosphere Study Guide
Backgrounder 1957 Sputnik 1, the first satellite, is launched by the Soviet Union. This opened the door for Satellites that can be used to monitor weather and changes in the atmosphere. 1976 Studies show that CFCs have caused the ozone layer hole. 1990 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) First Assessment Report says that the planet is warming, and that future warming is likely. 1997 The Kyoto Protocol is established with the aim of stabilising greenhouse gas emissions. 2006 Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth is released and persuades much of the general public that climate change is real. 2009 Level of CO2 in the atmosphere reaches 385 ppm and the average global temperature is 14.5°C. Humans can have an impact on climate by changing our atmosphere. Many of the gases that humans are responsible for emitting have an effect on the atmosphere, in particular, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. These greenhouse gases can enhance the ‘greenhouse effect’, which can result in warming of the planet. The greenhouse effect is basically when a layer of these built up gases acts like the glass of a greenhouse – it allows sunlight to enter, but prevents head radiated from the Earth from escaping. These trapped gases cause a gradual warming of the planet, which is resulting in the climate change that humans are now observing. Society has also affected the atmosphere by creating the hole in the ozone layer located above Antarctica. This ozone hole was caused by the release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals that used to be found in many household products after World War II. CFCs breakdown the ozone layer, which means that more of the Sun’s damaging rays can enter the Earth. This can lead to increases in the occurence of skin cancer and can also cause temperature changes across the planet. Climate change is a change in the average weather over a long period of time. Scientists have observed the Earth’s climate changing - in the 100 years before 2009 the planet’s temperature rose by an average of 0.7̊C. This has been caused by the growing amount of CO2 that humans release into the atmosphere - mainly as a result of burning fossil fuels to generate energy, such as in traditional coal power plants. This has further impacts on weather patterns, such as rainfall. Because it is hard to make specific predictions on how the climate will change – particularly in individual cities – there are people who doubt that climate change is real. However, there is a concensus of research that climate change will continue - most likely at an increased rate. This could have hazardous effects on the environment. In order to slow or stop climate change, scientists insist that we need to decrease the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. What about our Talented Student Program, study abroad options, and scholarships? Still curious? Find out more www.science.unsw.edu.au firstname.lastname@example.org Key dates: 24 May 2011 Science Parent Student Night 28 July 2011 “Scientists’ Stories” – parent and student evening 3 September 2011 Open Day • Psychology • Physics • Optometry & Vision Science • Medical Science • Mathematics & Statistics • Materials Science • Earth & Environmental Sciences • Chemistry • Biology & Biotechnology • Aviation Curious about science study and not sure where to start looking? www.science.unsw.edu.au - start here and discover the things you’ll learn about in our wide range of exciting programs. Never Stand Still Faculty of Science HOW DO WE AFFECT THE ATMOSPHERE? WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE? PARAMOUNTPICTURES