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7: Climate and the Environment

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    • 7.1: Climate and Global Change – Chapter Introduction
      The Earth’s climate is changing. The scientific consensus is that by altering the composition of the atmosphere humans are increasing the average temperature of the Earth’s surface. This process has already begun – the planet is measurably warmer than it was at the start of the last century – but scientists predict the change that will occur over the 21st century will be even greater.
    • 7.2: Climate Processes; External and Internal Controls
      The Earth's climate is continually changing. If we are to understand the current climate and predict the climate of the future, we need to be able to account for the processes that control the climate. One hundred million years ago, much of North America was arid and hot, with giant sand dunes common across the continent's interior.
    • 7.3: The Carbon Cycle
      Carbon, just like all other elements, cycles through the environment and is constantly in the process of changing forms and locations. In this section, as in many other pieces of scientific literature, we will periodically refer to carbon by its chemical symbol, C. There is no new carbon in the world, rather, all carbon is continuously recycled from one form to another.
    • 7.4: Human Impacts on the Carbon Cycle
      Humans, just like all other living organisms, have impacted the global carbon cycle since the dawn of our species. However, the magnitude of our impacts has changed dramatically throughout history.
    • 7.5: The Science of Climate Change
      Scientists have identified the source of our current global climate change as being the increased human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), since the industrial revolution.
    • 7.6: Activity: Molecules and Light
      Do you ever wonder how a greenhouse gas affects the climate, or why the ozone layer is important. Use the sim to explore how light interacts with molecules in our atmosphere.
    • 7.7: Additional Reading - Milankovitch Cycles
      The most recent period of Earth's geologic history—spanning the last 2.6 million years—is known as the Quaternary period. This is an important period for us because it encompasses the entire period over which humans have existed—our species evolved about 200,000 years ago.
    • 7.8: Greenhouse Gases
      We will be covering the four major categories of greenhouse gases that have been impacted by humans the most. See Table 7.4.1 for a numeric comparison of these greenhouse gases.
    • 7.9: Fossil Fuels and Greenhouse Gases
      Fossil fuels are made up mainly of hydrogen and carbon. When burned, the carbon combines with oxygen to create carbon dioxide (CO2).
    • 7.10: Consequences of Climate Change
      We have already observed this increase in the average temperature occurring. We have also seen, and expect to continue to see, other changes occurring in the climate of the Earth. Furthermore, changes have been observed, and we expect to continue to observe, changes in other chemical, physical, and biological aspects of the Earth’s environment.
    • 7.11: Looking Forward: Climate Strategies
      While the situation surrounding global climate change is in serious need of our attention, it is important to realize that many scientists, leaders, and concerned citizens are making solutions to climate change part of their life’s work. The two solutions to the problems caused by climate change are mitigation and adaptation, and we will likely need a combination of both in order to prosper in the future.
    • 7.12: Water Cycle and Fresh Water Supply
      Water is the only substance that occurs naturally on earth in three forms: solid, liquid and gas. It is distributed in various locations, called water reservoirs. The oceans are by far the largest of the reservoirs with about 97% of all water but that water is too saline for most human uses (see Figure Earth's Water Reservoirs).
    • 7.13: Case Study: The Aral Sea - Going, Going, Gone
      The Aral Sea is a lake located east of the Caspian Sea between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in central Asia (see Figure Map of Aral Sea Area). This area is part of the Turkestan desert, which is the fourth largest desert in the world; it is produced from a rain shadow effect by Afghanistan's high mountains to the south. Due to the arid and seasonally hot climate there is extensive evaporation and limited surface waters in general.
    • 7.14: Water Pollution
      The Module Water Cycle and Fresh Water Supply described one aspect of the global water crisis, the water shortages that afflict many arid and densely populated areas. The global water crisis also involves water pollution, because to be useful for drinking and irrigation, water must not be polluted beyond certain thresholds.
    • 7.15: Water Treatment
      Water treatment is a process of making water suitable for its application or returning its natural state. Thus, water treatment required before and after its application. The required treatment depends on the application. Water treatment involves science, engineering, business, and art. The treatment may include mechanical, physical, biological, and chemical methods. As with any technology, science is the foundation, and engineering makes sure that the technology works as designed.
    • 7.16: Case Study: The Love Canal Disaster
      One of the most famous and important examples of groundwater pollution in the U.S. is the Love Canal tragedy in Niagara Falls, New York. It is important because the pollution disaster at Love Canal, along with similar pollution calamities at that time (Times Beach, Missouri and Valley of Drums, Kentucky), helped to create Superfund, a federal program instituted in 1980 and designed to identify and clean up the worst of the hazardous chemical waste sites in the U.S.
    • 7.17 The Bull Run River

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