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TPO36阅读下载-POPULATION AND CLIMATE

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POPULATION AND CLIMATE

The human population on Earth has grown to the point that it is having an effect on Earth's atmosphere and ecosystems. Burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, urbanization, cultivation of rice and cattle, and the manufacture of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) for propellants and refrigerants are increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, dust, and CFCs in the atmosphere. About 70 percent of the Sun's energy passes through the atmosphere and strikes Earth's surface. This radiation heats the surface of the land and ocean, and these surfaces then reradiate infrared radiation back into space. This allows Earth to avoid heating up too much. However, not all of the infrared radiation makes it into space; some is absorbed by gases in the atmosphere and is reradiated back to Earth's surface. A greenhouse gas is one that absorbs infrared radiation and then reradiates some of this radiation back to Earth. Carbon dioxide, CFCs, methane, and nitrogen oxides are greenhouse gases. The natural greenhouse effect of our atmosphere is well established. In fact, without greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, scientists calculate that Earth would be about 33C cooler than it currently is.

The current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 360 parts per million. Human activities are having a major influence on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, which are rising so fast that current predictions are that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide will double in the next 50 to 100 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 1992, which represents a consensus of most atmospheric scientists, predicts that a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration would raise global temperatures anywhere between 1.4C and 4.5C. The IPCC report issued in 2001 raised the temperature prediction almost twofold. The suggested rise in temperature is greater than the changes that occurred in the past between ice ages. The increase in temperatures would not be uniform, with the smallest changes at the equator and changes two or three times as great at the poles. The local effects of these global changes are difficult to predict, but it is generally agreed that they may include alterations in ocean currents, increased winter flooding in some areas of the Northern Hemisphere, a higher incidence of summer drought in some areas, and rising sea levels, which may flood low-lying countries.

Scientists are actively investigating the feedback mechanism within the physical, chemical, and biological components of Earth's climate system in order to make accurate predictions of the effects the rise in greenhouse gases will have on future global climates. Global circulation models are important tools in this process. These models incorporate current knowledge on atmospheric circulation patterns, ocean currents, the effect of landmasses, and the like to predict climate under changed conditions. There are several models, and all show agreement on a global scale. For example, all models show substantial changes in climate when carbon dioxide concentration is doubled. However, there are significant differences in the regional

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