STUDY GUIDE FOR GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY – BI301 – HUMAN IMPACTS ON ECOSYSTEMS -- 2014

To review lecture notes on global climate change or stratospheric ozone, click on ozone or on climate change . for background information on these subjects, or on climate predictions and responses for details on climate predictions, and ecological and human responses. Highlighted words or phrases in the Unit Goals and Questions, below, provide jumps to the portion of the lecture where the relevant material was first introduced or explained in most detail. However, because most subjects are discussed in more than one area, I recommend that you look at the full set of notes, rather than just the material accessed through the links indicated below (this if you want to review the material fully).

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE (THE "GREENHOUSE EFFECT") AND STRATOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION

UNIT GOALS AND QUESTIONS

1) What is the "greenhouse effect" and is it a new phenomenon?

2) How have humans influenced the global carbon cycle? (Consider fluxes as well as compartment sizes.)

3) What evidence links global temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations?

4) What are some greenhouse gases (other than CO2), are their atmospheric concentrations changing, and how are they connected to human population, agriculture, or industry?

5) Are we currently experiencing an acceleration of the greenhouse effect? That is, is our climate changing because of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases? What is your evidence?

6) It is difficult to predict how atmospheric CO2 concentrations will change in response to changes in CO2 emissions, in part because we do not understand the various feedback mechanisms that will be involved. Give an example of how a feedback mechanism could modify responses of atmospheric [CO2] to emissions changes.

7) How much is climate likely to change over the 21st century, according to the IPCC's most recent range of projections for emissions of atmospheric CO2 (or CO2--"equivalents")?

8) Global climates have changed as much (or more) in the past, but something is different about the climate change likely to result from increased greenhouse gas concentrations versus climate changes of the past. What is this difference, and how is it likely to affect the ability of organisms and ecosystems to "cope with" this change?

9) What are some ways by which organisms and ecosystems can cope (or not cope) with climate change, and what kinds of information do we have on how organisms have fared following past changes in climate? What kinds of ecological effects may result from a change in climate?

10) Many plants are more productive in CO2-enriched atmospheres than in unenriched atmospheres in the laboratory. Does this mean that the greenhouse effect is likely to help the world food supply, and why or why not?

11) What strategies can humans take for dealing with global climate change, given the uncertainties in model predictions, and what do you think should be done? What is the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and what does it call for in terms of CO2 emissions? Is the US a signatory to the Protocol?

12) What is happening to stratospheric ozone, both in Antarctica and globally?

13) What chemical agent(s) are the most likely culprits with regard to stratospheric ozone depletion, and what evidence links them to the depletion?

14) Is there any correspondence between lists of greenhouse gases and of gases that influence stratospheric ozone? If so, what gases influence both?

15) What are the possible biological and ecological consequences of a depletion in stratospheric ozone, particularly of a global depletion?

16) The international community has moved relatively swiftly to curb CFC emissions (and emissions of other ozone depleters) in response to the threat that continued emissions would pose to stratospheric ozone. Why do you think these actions have been taken in this case and not in other cases we have discussed (e.g. greenhouse gases, tropospheric ozone)?

17) Have the effects of these actions been translated into a "repair" of stratospheric ozone as of yet, and, if not, why not? When should repair become apparent (if it isn't already)?

 

ADDITIONAL READING (OPTIONAL!)

Baldwin, M.P., M. Dameris, and T.G. Shepard. 2007. How will the stratosphere affect climate change? Science 316: 1576 - 1577. An informative look at ways by which temperatures in the stratsophere have changed under the influences of stratospheric ozone depletion and increases of greenhouse gases in the tropsphere, and at ways that ozone repair in the stratosphere might affect climate models.

Beedlow, P.A., D.T. Tingey, D.L. Phillips, W.E. Hogsett, and D.M. Olszyk. 2004. Rising atmospheric CO2 and carbon sequestration in forests. Frontiers in Ecology 2: 315-322. (Talks about extent to which CO2 fertilization is likely to improve plant growth, and thus cause increasing sequestration of carbon in forests. Suggests that nutrient and other limitations on growth will keep this from happening.)

Berner, R. A. and A. C. Lasaga. 1989. Modeling the geochemical carbon cycle. Scientific American, March, 1989: 74-81. (Technical paper dealing with the chemistry and geology involved in the long term geochemical carbon cycle. Useful in that it provides information on the cycle over geological time, rather than focusing on short-term perturbations of the cycle.)

BioScience 2001. Volume 51: pages 720 - 779. (A series of papers on forest and climate change, ranging from predictions for forest ecosystems under various climate change scenarios to socioeconomic impacts of climate change on US forests, wood product markets, and forest recreation.)

Blaustein, A.R. and B.A. Bancroft. 2007. Amphibian population declines: evolutionary considerations. BioScience 57: 437 - 444. Discusses the numerous factors contributing to amphibian declines around the world, including possible effects of UV-b radiation.

Bonan, G.B. 2008. Forests and climate change: forcings, feedbacks and the climate benefits of forests. Science 320: 1444-1449. (Reviews many complexities associated with trying to determine the net climate forcing provided by forests -- concludes that the net effects are not known at present.)

Charlson, R. J. et al. 1992. Climate forcing by anthropogenic aerosols. Science 255:423-430. (Is sulfate offsetting greenhouse warming? No one knows, but maybe so!)

Clark, D.A. 2004. Tropical forests and global warming: slowing it down or speeding it up? Frontiers in Ecology 2: 73-80. (Reviews evidence concerning whether tropical forests are accelerating or slowing the rate at which atmospheric CO2 is accumulating, and points out that we need answers to that question!)

El-Sayed, S. Z. 1988. Fragile life under the ozone hole. Natural History 10/88: 73-80. (Discusses implications of increased UV-B radiation for the aquatic ecosystems in the Antarctic.)

Ember, L. R., P. L. Layman, W. Lepkowski, and P. S. Zurer. 1986. Tending the global commons. Chemical and Engineering News, Nov. 24: 14-64. (An exhaustive and fairly technical look at stratospheric ozone and greenhouse gas issues; atmospheric chemistry, methods of monitoring, and ecological and policy implications. Interesting in that it is in a trade journal, yet presents the dilemmas quite fairly. Particularly strong on the CFC/stratospheric O3 connection.)

Fearnside, P.M. and W. F. Laurance. 2004. Tropical deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Ecological Applications 14: 982-986. (Provides evidence intended to support the claim that, at least for the Brazilian Amazon, the contribution of tropical deforestation to greenhouse gases and global warming is substantial.)

Foley, J.A., M.H. Costa, C. Delire, N. Ramankutty, and P. Snyder. 2003. Green surprise? How terrestrial ecosystems could affect earth's climate. Frontiers in Ecology : 38-44. (Describes some mechanisms by which changes in ecosystems [whether themselves caused by changes in climate or not] may influence climate; suggests that positive feedbacks are likely.)

Hansen, J. et al. 2008. Target Atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim? The Open Atmospheric Science Journal: 2:217-231. (This is a tremendously useful review of climate date, ranging from paleoclimates to the present; projections for the future climate under various CO2 scenarios; and potential strategies to avert or attempt to mitigate consequences. Includes the famous line, "If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 to at most 350 ppm, but likely less than that." [Pat notes that this was written in 2008 -- atmospheric CO2 is, by 2012, over 390 ppm........]

Harrington, J. B. 1987. Climatic change: a review of causes. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 17: 1313-1339. (Just what the title implies - and concludes with a discussion of the recent human potential to cause climate change.)

Heath, D. F. 1988. Non-seasonal changes in total column ozone from satellite observations, 1970-1986. Nature, 332(6161): 219-227. (Describes evidence that stratospheric ozone is being depleted globally, not just over Antarctica, with a discussion of possible causal mechanisms.)

Hileman, B. 1999. Case grows for climate change. C&EN Aug. 9: 16-23. (A striking paper, given the generally conservative tone of the journal in which it was published. Describes "new" evidence suggesting that human-induced global warming from CO2 is already here.)

Hoegh-Guldberg, O. and MANY others. 2007. Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science 318: 1737-1742. (A very scary article about probable impacts of warming and ocean acidification on coral reefs of the world; go see some soon if you haven't already....)

Joyce, L. A. and R. Birdsey (eds.) 2000. The impact of climate change on America's forests: a technical document supporting the 2000 USDA Forest Service RPA Assessment. RMRS-GTR-59. For Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. (This report documnets trends and impacts of climate change on Americ'as forests, as required by the Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974. Recent research on the impact of climate and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on plant productivity is synthesized. Modeling analyses explore the potential impact of climate changes of forests, wood products, and carbon in the United States.)

Kerr, R.A. 2001. Rising global temperature, rising uncertainty. Science 292: 192 - 194. (Points out that, while it is increasingly certain that the past century has experienced significant warming, and many climate modelers are increasingly certain that the warming is attributable to human activities, much uncertainty remains in projections for the future. See also related articles in Science 293: 430 - 433 (2001) and Science 290: 2081 - 208x (2000))

Kerr, R.A. 2007. Pushing the scary side of global warming. Science 316:1412-1415. (Points out that several prominent scientists think that the IPCC might have been overly cautious in some of its projections for the future, particularly relating to sea level rise, and that there are dangers in both being overly cautious and overly extreme.)

Kerr, J. B., C. T. McElroy. 1993. Evidence for large upward trends of ultraviolet-ß radiation linked to ozone depletion. Science 262:1032-1034 (First convincing demonstration that uv-ß increases are occurring at northern latitudes--e.g. Toronto, Canada--as stratospheric ozone is depleted.)

Lenoir, J., J.C. Gegout, P.A. Marquet, P de Ruffray, and H. Brisse. 2008. A significant upward shift in plant species optimum elevation during the 20th century. Science 320: 1768-1771. (Migrations in response to a warming world are already underway, as the title suggests...)

Levy, S. 2007. Running hot and cold: are rainforests sinks or taps for carbon? BioScience 57(7): 552-557. (A scary and potentially important paper that reports data from several tropical forests that indicate that rising temperatures are causing tree growth rates to slow and to release more CO2, so these forests might act as positive rather than negative feedbacks on warming.)

Myers, N. 1993. Environmental refugees in a globally warmed world. BioScience 43:752-761. ("The gravest effects of climate change may be those on human migration as millions are uprooted by shoreline erosion, coastal flooding and agricultural disruption.")

National Academy of Sciences. 1991. Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. (A new synthesis of knowns and unknowns regarding global warming, with specific policy recommendations for the U.S. and the international community.)

National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This is a web site maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy, and it is a gold mine of information. Visit http://www.nrel.gov.

Peters. R. L. 1990. Effects of global warming on forests. Forest Ecology and Management 35:13-33. (A review of responses of natural systems to past climate changes and discussion of potential future scenarios. Very relevant to management questions involving threatened biological diversity as well.)

Rowland, F.S. 1990. Stratospheric ozone depletion by chlorofluorocarbons. Ambio 19: 281 - 292. (A clear and detailed discussion of the mechanisms by which CFC's attack ozone in the stratosphere, of the Antarctic "hole" and global ozone levels, and policy steps. A bit dated in that it was written before production of CFC's dropped way off, but the basic science is excellent.)


Rowland, F.S. 1993. President's lecture: the need for scientific communication with the public. Science 260: 1571 - 1576. (Uses the case of CFC's and stratospheric ozone depletion [and other examples] to point out how important it is that the public be literate about science issues and how important it is for scientists to make that possible, by providing accessible information. Describes some of the attempts to attribute stratospheric ozone depletion to natural causes & discredits them.)

Rubin, E. S., L. B. Lave, and M. G. Morgan. 1992. Keeping climate research relevant. Issues in Science and Technology Winter 1991-92:47-55. (How can multidisciplinary research on climate change have more impact on policy decisions than NAPAP had on policy re. acid deposition? Some suggestions.)

Schneider, S. H. 1989. The greenhouse effect: science and policy. Science 243: 771-780. (While a bit old, this paper is an excellent discussion of the kinds of policy steps that we could take to avert the risk of climate change; steps that make sense for us to take even if predictions of climate change turned out to be wrong.)

Schneider, S. H. 1994. Detecting climate change signals: Are there any "fingerprints?" Science 263:341-347. (Discusses means by which regional variations in climate forcing can obscure global trends, and what we would need to know to construct regionally adjusted "fingerprints.")

Schroeder, P. and L. Ladd. 1991. Slowing the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide: a biological approach. Climatic Change 19:283-290. (Argues that widespread tree planting may be useful as part of a comprehensive strategy for managing extra CO2 in the atmosphere, but that it must be practiced globally to be effective.)

Schuur, E.A.G. and too many others to list. 2008. Vulnerability of permafrost carbon to climate change: implications for the global carbon cycle. BioScience 58(8): 701-714. (An excellent of current and historic distribution of permafrost, depths, types, etc along with a discussion of likely climatic outcomes from its thawing. Concludes that thawing would most likely represent a net release of carbon, and hence a positive feedback to climatic warming.)

Science 2002. Volume 297: 1489 - 1514. (A series of papers on implications of climate change for high latitude regions, ranging from likely consequences for ice sheets to effects on Antarctic seabird populations.)

Science 2004. Volume 305: 957-976. (A series of papers on prospects for an hydrogen-based fuel economy.)

Seager, R. 2006. The source of Europe's mild climate. American Scientist 94: 334 - 341. (A very readable explanation of the North Atlantic "conveyor belt," influences on it, and its influence on past, current, and future climates.)

Serreze, M.C., M.M. Holland, J. Stroeve. 2007. Perspectives on the Arctic's shrinking sea-ice cover. Science 315:1533-1536. (A fine review of trends in Arctic ice cover over the period 1979-2006 along with projections for the future. Reviews probable causes -- concludes that there is probably a human influence.)

Stolarski, R. S. 1988. The Antarctic ozone hole. Scientific American, 258(1): 30-36. (An accessible discussion of the physics and chemistry involved in depletion of stratospheric ozone.)

Taubes, G. 1993. The ozone backlash. Science 260:1580 - 1583. (Talks about the difficulty of doing research on issues that are politically charged, such as ozone depletion. Describes some of the attempts to attribute stratospheric ozone depletion to natural causes, and to discredit researchers in the field.)

U.S. Dept. of Energy. 1989. Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect. DOE/ER-0411 UC-11. (Presents issues and evidences in form of questions and answers in lay people's language.)

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This page is maintained by Patricia Muir at Oregon State University. Address questions or comments to me here: (muirp@bcc.orst.edu) . Page last updated Oct. 18, 2013.

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