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Greenhouse Gases – carbon dioxide (CO2) nitrogen oxides (NOx), methane (CH4) – makeup about 1 % of the atmosphere. In addition to atmospheric water vapor, these gases keep the temperature on Earth’s surface at 19oC, about 33oC warmer than the Earth otherwise would be (from -19oC to +14oC).
Human emissions are currently adding @28 tonnes CO2 per year. Doubling concentration from 0.03% to 0.06% by the end of the twenty-first century is predicted, with the possibility of tripling! Ratios of Carbon 12,13 and 14 are used to track this.
1. How many tones of CO2 do Ontarians contribute per year? Per person?
2. Find a way to calculate your personal CO2 contributions.
3. How do these gases actually cause the greenhouse effect?
ACTIVITY 2 Research
Check out isotopes of carbon and how they are used for carbon dating of relics and in tracking processes such as photosynthesis.
Source: IPCC 2003 Graphics Climate Change and Water Quality in the Great Lakes Region. www.ijc.org
In the graph below BAU ( Business As Usual) meansall decisions made by society are to carry on all present activities as in 2005. The global CO2 levels are shown here.
Source: N.Urquizo, Environment Canada
1. Check Section 5.2.1a for the chart showing total Ontario Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990-2001. Plot this data and project the line on your graph to 2010.
2. What is the total in kilo-tonne carbon dioxide equivalents predicted in emissions for Ontario, assuming Business As Usual (BAU)?
3. What percentage reduction will the Kyoto Protocol make on this graph if all countries complied in 2005? Plot this on the above graph.
4. How many years delay in increasing CO2 does this represent on this graph? Why must more effort after Kyoto be made?
Research this formula to find units used for this data and how data is collected.
How and where did it get its name?
Cost-effectiveness studies over a century time-scale estimate the costs of stabilizing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increase as the level of concentration stabilization declines. In most processes (as in treating sewage, cleaning house, or energy efficiency), manufacturing the last 10% costs much more effort or investment of dollars and time.
Look at the graph below and answer the questions to better understand what this means with respect to costs in keeping the same concentration of atmospheric CO2.
Source:IPCC,Climate Change (2001) Synthesis Report Working Group 1, 11, 111 www.ipcc.ch.
1. What does mitigation mean? Ppmv? Gt C? WG1? WG111TAR? Cumulative?
2. What does the pattern shown mean?
3. In simple language describe what information this graph is stating.
Geological evidence in your own backyard.
The figure below outlines the causes of changes in oceans and seas globally.
These causes are also at work in Ontario and the rest of Canada. There is also physical evidence that these forces have also worked here in Ontario. Check Section 4 PAST for the Niagara escarpment virtual tour that shows this evidence. Remember that some of the Niagara Escarpment was made underwater- some in warm coral seas! Take an expedition to look for some of this evidence as well as the melting of the glaciers that lay on top of the Crawford Lake and Rattlesnake point area.
One place to see the old shore line of the present Lake Ontario is to following old Highway 5 or Dundas Street,. Highway 403 cuts through this shoreline as it joins the QEW. On Hwy 401 just east of Kingston the grey limestone – formerly underwater and the pink granite of the Canadian shield are together – more evidence of different sea levels.
1. Why is this picture included here? See the above sections and research the answer. Check the PAST for work on glaciers and albedo effect. Check the PRESENT-Global for work on ice core data.
Check the global consequences of a sea level rise on Canada’s coasts.
Examples: the historical levels at the harbor at Louisburg, the harbor in old Montreal.