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10 questions about global warming and its consequences
10 questions about global warming and its consequences

The life hacker figured out why the summer in Russia is getting colder, and world news more and more often resembles shots from the movie "The Day After Tomorrow".

10 questions about global warming and its consequences
10 questions about global warming and its consequences

What is Global Warming?

This is an increase in the average temperature on Earth, which has been recorded since the end of the 19th century. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has risen by an average of 0.8 degrees over land and ocean.

Scientists believe that by the end of the 21st century, the temperature may rise by an average of 2 degrees (negative forecast - by 4 degrees).


But the increase is quite small, does it really affect something?

All the climate changes we are experiencing are the consequences of global warming. This is what has happened on Earth over the past century.

  • On all continents, there are more hot days and fewer cold days.
  • Global sea level has risen by 14 centimeters. The area of glaciers is shrinking, they are melting, the water is desalinated, the movement of ocean currents is changing.
  • As the temperature rose, the atmosphere began to retain more moisture. This led to more frequent and more powerful storms, especially in North America and Europe.
  • In some regions of the world (the Mediterranean, West Africa) there are more droughts, in others (the midwest of the United States, northwest of Australia), on the contrary, they have decreased.

What caused global warming?

Additional entry into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases: methane, carbon dioxide, water vapor, ozone. They absorb long wavelengths of infrared radiation without releasing them into space. Because of this, a greenhouse effect is formed on the Earth.

Global warming has provoked the rapid development of industry. The more emissions from enterprises, the more actively deforestation is going on (and they absorb carbon dioxide), the more greenhouse gases accumulate. And the more the Earth warms up.

What can all this lead to?

Scientists predict that further global warming may intensify processes destructive for people, provoke droughts, floods, and the lightning spread of dangerous diseases.

  • Due to the rise in sea level, many settlements located in the coastal zone will be flooded.
  • The effects of storms will become more global.
  • The rainy seasons will become longer, leading to more flooding.
  • The duration of dry periods will also increase, which threatens severe droughts.
  • Tropical cyclones will become stronger: the wind speed will be higher, precipitation will be more abundant.
  • The combination of elevated temperatures and droughts will make it difficult to grow some crops.
  • Many species of animals will migrate to maintain their habitual habitat. Some of them may disappear altogether. For example, ocean acidification, which absorbs carbon dioxide (produced by burning fossil fuels), kills oysters and coral reefs, and worsens the living conditions for predators.

Are Hurricanes Harvey and Irma also triggered by global warming?

According to one of the versions, warming in the Arctic is to blame for the formation of destructive hurricanes. It created an atmospheric "blockade" - it slowed down the circulation of jet streams in the atmosphere. Because of this, powerful "sedentary" storms were formed, which absorbed a huge amount of moisture. But there is still no sufficient evidence for this theory.

Many climatologists rely on the Clapeyron-Clausius equation, according to which the atmosphere with a higher temperature contains more moisture, and therefore conditions for the formation of more powerful storms arise. The ocean water temperature where Harvey formed is about 1 degree above average.

The atmosphere contained 3-5% more moisture. This led to record rainfall.

Hurricane Irma was formed in approximately the same way. The process began in warm waters off the coast of West Africa. For 30 hours, the element increased to the third category (and then to the highest, fifth). This rate of formation was recorded by meteorologists for the first time in two decades.

Is it really what was described in the film "The Day After Tomorrow" awaiting us?

Scientists believe hurricanes like this could become the norm. True, climatologists have not yet predicted an instant global cooling, as in the film.

The first place in the top five global risks for 2017, voiced at the World Economic Forum, has already been taken by extreme weather events. 90% of the greatest economic losses in the world today are due to floods, hurricanes, floods, heavy rains, hail, droughts.

Okay, but why was this summer in Russia so cold with global warming?

It does not interfere. Scientists have developed a model that explains this.

Global warming has led to an increase in temperatures in the Arctic Ocean. The ice began to actively melt, the circulation of air flows changed, and with them the seasonal patterns of atmospheric pressure distribution changed.

Previously, the weather in Europe was driven by the Arctic Oscillation, with the seasonal Azores High (high pressure area) and Icelandic Lows. Between these two areas, a westerly wind was forming, which brought warm air from the Atlantic.

But due to the rise in temperature, the pressure difference between the Azores maximum and the Icelandic minimum has narrowed. More and more air masses began to move not from west to east, but along the meridians. Arctic air can penetrate deep to the south and bring cold.

Should the residents of Russia pack a troubling suitcase in case of the likeness of "Harvey"?

If you want, why not. He who is forewarned is armed. This summer, hurricanes have been recorded in many cities of Russia, the likes of which have not been seen in the last 100 years.

According to Roshydromet, in 1990–2000, 150–200 dangerous hydrometeorological phenomena were recorded in our country, which caused damage. Today their number exceeds 400, and the consequences are becoming more devastating.

Global warming is manifested not only in climate change. For several years, scientists from the A. A. Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics have been warning about the danger to cities and towns in northern Russia.

Huge funnels have formed here, from which explosive methane can be released.

Previously, these craters were heaving mounds: an underground "storage" of ice. But due to global warming, they melted. The voids were filled with gas hydrates, the release of which is like an explosion.

A further increase in temperature can aggravate the process. It poses a particular danger to Yamal and the cities located close to it: Nadym, Salekhard, Novy Urengoy.


Can global warming be stopped?

Yes, if you completely rebuild the energy system. Today, about 87% of the world's energy comes from fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas).

To reduce the amount of emissions, you need to use low-carbon energy sources: wind, sun, geothermal processes (occurring in the bowels of the earth).

Another way is to develop carbon capture, where carbon dioxide is extracted from emissions from power plants, refineries and other industries and injected underground.

What prevents you from doing this?

There are a number of reasons for this: political (defending the interests of certain companies), technological (alternative energy is considered too expensive), and others.

The most active "producers" of greenhouse gases are China, USA, EU countries, India, Russia.

If emissions can still be significantly reduced, there is a chance to stop global warming at around 1 degree.

But if there are no changes, the average temperature may rise by 4 degrees or more. And in this case, the consequences will be irreversible and destructive for humanity.