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Causes of Global Climate Change

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Causes of Global Climate Change Long term climate change can be influenced by either external or internal factors. An example of an external factor is solar output. This is energy that comes from the sun. This energy changes over time with measurements made in the 1980s showing that total amount of solar energy reaching earth has decreased by 0.1%. Although this is doesn't seem like much, if it continued over a long period of time, it could influence the global climate. It is predicted that a 1% change in solar output could make temperatures rise or fall by between 0.5 and 1�C. It has also been suggested that the activity of sunspots on the sun's surface affects solar output. There is also evidence to suggest that this was the reason for the little ice age. ...read more.


Millions of tonnes of poisonous gas and particles were sprayed out over Iceland over 8 months. Lava erupted from vents in the mountain, killing off vegetation and in turn animals died from starvation - a third of the islands population died from famine. On a global level the particles released into the atmosphere blocked solar radiation and global temperatures also fell. Crops failed in Europe and starvation followed. A second factor is surface reflection. During cooler periods when there is a larger amount of snow and ice on earth, global temperature will drop due to the snow and ice reflecting sunlight back into space. This is called the albedo effect. If the planet warms up then the amount of snow and ice will decline, causing less reflection of heat and more absorption which leads in turn to heating of the earth. ...read more.


Methane makes up 20% of all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane comes from organisms which were alive many years ago, recently dead rotting organisms and those alive today. Fossil methane provides approx 30% of methane released into the atmosphere and was formed underground many years ago. It comes to the surface when fossil fuels are mined. Modern sources of methane include wetlands/swamps, paddy fields growing rice, landfills which contain rotting vegetable matter and the bowels of animals. The levels of methane in the atmosphere have been rising by 1.5% a year for the past decade. This is due to an increase in the mining of fossil fuels, rising temperatures leading to increased bacteria emissions from wetlands, increased rice production due to population growth in rice producing countries and increased cattle and sheep for meat due to increase in western style diets. ...read more.

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