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a problem with methane

a problem with methane

by Chris ~ 11 October, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Radiant energy from the sun falls on the Earth; some of this energy is absorbed by the planet and its atmosphere.  Some of the energy is radiated back into space.  The balance between the absorbed and radiated energy determines global temperature.  This balance is changed by a number of factors - the intensity of the solar energy, cloud reflectivity, the absorption of energy by various gases or surfaces.

The reflectivity of the Earth’s surface  (the albedo) influences the amount of light energy that is reflected back into space. Snow has a high albedo, that is, it reflects much of the light back out into space.  Dark objects (like conifer plantations) reflect less light / radiation and absorb more thereby trapping heat that would otherwise be reflected back into space. The amount of energy that is ‘retained’ is also influenced by the presence of particular gases in the atmosphere - the so-called 'greenhouse gases', notably carbon dioxide and methane.  The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased dramatically from 280 ppm during the 10,000 years up to the mid-18th century to 415 ppm (as of 2019).  This increase has certainly contributed to the changes in climate that we have witnessed in recent years - extreme weather events such as heat waves and flooding.   Read more...

Forest and grassland fires

Forest and grassland fires

by Lewis ~ 6 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

In early Spring this year, both Norway and Sweden reported wild fires in their forests, due in part to a run of dry weather. More recently, fires have been reported in many parts of the world - particularly in the Amazonian Forest,  parts of Africa, Siberia,  Canada and even within the Arctic Circle.

A few years back, the Russian authorities initiated a policy of allowing remote forest fires to burn - unless the trees / areas were of economic importance.  However, the fires this summer affected thousands of square miles of boreal forest and strong winds spread the smoke and ash across the country; it affected cities such as Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk (each home to a million people). Read more...

Peat - a vast carbon (and water) store

Peat – a vast carbon (and water) store

by Lewis ~ 21 April, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Last year, the Woodland’s blog reported on the moorland fires around the U.K. and this Easter weekend yet another fire has been reported at Ilkley  These fires have a devastating effect on local wildlife.  Sadly,  extensive peat wildfires have occurred in places as diverse as Indonesia (in 2015) and Greenland.  

The fire (in Indonesia) and its associated smoke was responsible for the deaths of people and animals,  and caused billions of pounds of damage through the destruction of homes and businesses.  Also,  the fires released truly massive amounts of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. Read more...

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

by Chris ~ 28 September, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Research workers in the States and Germany have been investigating the effect of drought on the subsequent growth of various types of trees.  Because of climate change, droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity.

The workers in the States found that trees took between two and four years to recover from drought and resume ‘normal’ growth.

The reduction in growth could be due to Read more...

"Trump Forest"

“Trump Forest”

by Lewis ~ 27 August, 2017 ~ 2 comments

President Trump is concerned that the Paris Climate Agreement will damage the U.S economy, cost jobs and offer a competitive advantage to Countries such as China and India.  In consequence, he has said that the United States will leave the Paris Climate Agreement and he has also ordered a review of ‘climate regulations’ legacy from the Obama administration.   The effect of these policies will be the release of greater quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - which will further exacerbate global warming and climate change.

A New Zealand based organisation called Trump Forest wants to offset the extra CO2 emissions Read more...

Woodlands, climate and robustness.

Woodlands, climate and robustness.

by Lewis ~ 13 January, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Climate change is a fact, though not one always accepted by certain politicians.   Greenhouse gas emissions have been growing since the C18th, and particularly in the period 1970 - 2004.   The warming of the world climate system is certain; air and ocean temperatures have increased.  

Though we cannot say how climate will change in any specific area with certainty, we can be sure that extreme weather events will become more common - droughts, heat waves, heavy rainfall, high winds and cyclones. Read more...

Plants, fungi and rising levels of carbon dioxide

Plants, fungi and rising levels of carbon dioxide

by Chris ~ 23 September, 2016 ~ one comment

It is a fact that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been rising.   It has been monitored since 1956 at the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) in Hawaii.   Mauna Loa was originally chosen as a carbon dioxide monitoring site because it is located far from any continent and offers a good average value for the air over the central Pacific.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important trace gas in the Earth's atmosphere; its current level is about 400 parts per million (ppm).   Despite its relatively low concentration, CO2 is a significant greenhouse gas.   Read more...

Have we moved into 'the human epoch' ?

Have we moved into ‘the human epoch’ ?

by Lewis ~ 1 May, 2016 ~ 4 comments

As a species, we humans have only been present on the Earth for a ‘blink of the eye’ in geological terms.   The Earth is approximately some 4.6 billion years old. Geologists have divided up these years into a number of geological periods or epochs - from the Pre-cambrian (from the formation of the earth until about 540 million years ago) to the most recent - the Holocene, which started at the end of the last Ice Age - about 12,000 years ago.

Modern Humans emerged out of Africa probably some 200,000 years ago, and since that time they have increased massively in number.   At the end of the C18th , there were probably about one billion people; now there are over seven billion.

We have changed the Earth in many ways.   Read more...

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