Topic: Climate change

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1808/1809 Mystery Eruption

Climate change Environment Volcanoes

The 1808 mystery eruption was a large volcanic eruption conjectured to have taken place in late 1808, possibly in the southwest Pacific. A VEI-6 eruption, comparable to the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, is suspected of having contributed to a period of global cooling that lasted for years, analogous to how the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora (VEI-7) led to the Year Without a Summer in 1816.

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Azolla Event

Climate change Environment Plants Arctic Palaeontology Geology

The Azolla event is a scenario hypothesized to have occurred in the middle Eocene epoch, around 49 million years ago, when blooms of the freshwater fern Azolla are thought to have happened in the Arctic Ocean. As they sank to the stagnant sea floor, they were incorporated into the sediment; the resulting draw-down of carbon dioxide has been speculated to have helped transform the planet from a "greenhouse Earth" state, hot enough for turtles and palm trees to prosper at the poles, to the current icehouse Earth known as the Late Cenozoic Ice Age.

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Bacteria in clouds

Climate change Meteorology Chemistry

In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. Water or various other chemicals may compose the droplets and crystals. On Earth, clouds are formed as a result of saturation of the air when it is cooled to its dew point, or when it gains sufficient moisture (usually in the form of water vapor) from an adjacent source to raise the dew point to the ambient temperature.

They are seen in the Earth's homosphere (which includes the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere). Nephology is the science of clouds, which is undertaken in the cloud physics branch of meteorology.

The two methods of naming clouds in their respective layers of the atmosphere are Latin and common. Cloud types in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer closest to Earth's surface, have Latin names due to the universal adoption of Luke Howard's nomenclature. Formally proposed in 1802, it became the basis of a modern international system that divides clouds into five physical forms that appear in any or all of three altitude levels (formerly known as étages). These physical types, in approximate ascending order of convective activity, include stratiform sheets, cirriform wisps and patches, stratocumuliform layers (mainly structured as rolls, ripples, and patches), cumuliform heaps, and very large cumulonimbiform heaps that often show complex structures. The physical forms are divided by altitude level into 10 basic genus-types.

The Latin names for applicable high-level genera in the troposphere carry a cirro- prefix, and an alto- prefix is added to the names of the mid-level genus-types. Clouds with sufficient vertical extent to occupy more than one altitude level are officially classified as low- or mid-level according to the altitude range at which each initially forms. However they are also more informally classified as multi-level or vertical, which along with low level clouds, do not carry any altitude related prefixes. Most of the genera can be subdivided into species and further subdivided into varieties. Very low stratiform clouds that extend down to the Earth's surface are given the common names fog and mist, but have no Latin names.

Several cloud types that form higher up in the stratosphere and mesosphere have common names for their main types, which may have the appearance of stratiform sheets, cirriform wisps, or statocumuliform bands or ripples. They are seen infrequently, mostly in the polar regions of Earth. Clouds have been observed in the atmospheres of other planets and moons in the Solar System and beyond. However, due to their different temperature characteristics, they are often composed of other substances such as methane, ammonia, and sulfuric acid, as well as water.

The tabular overview that follows is very broad in scope. It draws from several methods of cloud classification, both formal and informal, used in different levels of the Earth's homosphere by a number of cited authorities. Despite some differences in methodologies and terminologies, the classification schemes seen in this article can be harmonized by using a cross-classifation of form and level to derive the 10 tropospheric genera, the fog and mist that forms at surface level, and several additional major types above the troposphere. The cumulus genus includes four species that indicate vertical size and structure. This table should therefore not be seen as a strict or singular classification, but as an illustration of how various major cloud types are related to each other and defined through a full range of altitude levels from Earth's surface to the "edge of space".

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Greta Thunberg

Biography Climate change Women Guild of Copy Editors Biography/politics and government Sweden Autism

Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg (Swedish: [ˈɡrêːta ˈtʉ̂ːnbærj] (listen); born 3 January 2003) is a Swedish environmental activist who has gained international recognition for promoting the view that humanity is facing an existential crisis arising from climate change. Thunberg is known for her youth and her straightforward speaking manner, both in public and to political leaders and assemblies, in which she criticizes world leaders for their failure to take sufficient action to address the climate crisis.

Thunberg's activism started after convincing her parents to adopt several lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint. In August 2018, at age 15, she started spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on climate change by holding up a sign reading Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for climate). Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together, they organised a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays for Future. After Thunberg addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world. In 2019, there were multiple coordinated multi-city protests involving over a million students each. To avoid flying, Thunberg sailed to North America where she attended the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Her speech there, in which she exclaimed "how dare you", was widely taken up by the press and incorporated into music.

Her sudden rise to world fame has made her both a leader and a target for critics. Her influence on the world stage has been described by The Guardian and other newspapers as the "Greta effect". She has received numerous honours and awards including: honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; Time magazine's 100 most influential people and the youngest Time Person of the Year; inclusion in the Forbes list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women (2019) and two consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019 and 2020).

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Milankovitch Cycles

Climate change Environment Geology

Milankovitch cycles describe the collective effects of changes in the Earth's movements on its climate over thousands of years. The term is named for Serbian geophysicist and astronomer Milutin Milanković. In the 1920s, he hypothesized that variations in eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession resulted in cyclical variation in the solar radiation reaching the Earth, and that this orbital forcing strongly influenced climatic patterns on Earth.

Similar astronomical hypotheses had been advanced in the 19th century by Joseph Adhemar, James Croll and others, but verification was difficult because there was no reliably dated evidence, and because it was unclear which periods were important.

Now, materials on Earth that have been unchanged for millennia (obtained via ice, rock, and deep ocean cores) are being studied to indicate the history of Earth's climate. Though they are consistent with the Milankovitch hypothesis, there are still several observations that the hypothesis does not explain.

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Peak car

Climate change Environment Transport Urban studies and planning

Peak car (also peak car use or peak travel) is a hypothesis that motor vehicle distance traveled per capita, predominantly by private car, has peaked and will now fall in a sustained manner. The theory was developed as an alternative to the prevailing market saturation model, which suggested that car use would saturate and then remain reasonably constant, or to GDP-based theories which predict that traffic will increase again as the economy improves, linking recent traffic reductions to the Great Recession of 2008.

The theory was proposed following reductions, which have now been observed in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan (early 1990s), New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom (many cities from about 1994) and the United States. A study by Volpe Transportation in 2013 noted that average miles driven by individuals in the United States has been declining from 900 miles (1,400 km) per month in 2004 to 820 miles (1,320 km) in July 2012, and that the decline had continued since the recent upturn in the US economy.

A number of academics have written in support of the theory, including Phil Goodwin, formerly Director of the transport research groups at Oxford University and UCL, and David Metz, a former Chief Scientist of the UK Department of Transport. The theory is disputed by the UK Department for Transport, which predicts that road traffic in the United Kingdom will grow by 50% by 2036, and Professor Stephen Glaister, Director of the RAC Foundation, who say traffic will start increasing again as the economy improves. Unlike peak oil, a theory based on a reduction in the ability to extract oil due to resource depletion, peak car is attributed to more complex and less understood causes.

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Urban heat island

Climate change Environment Meteorology Urban studies and planning

An urban heat island (UHI) is an urban area or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The temperature difference is usually larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. UHI is most noticeable during the summer and winter. The main cause of the urban heat island effect is from the modification of land surfaces. Waste heat generated by energy usage is a secondary contributor. As a population center grows, it tends to expand its area and increase its average temperature. The term heat island is also used; the term can be used to refer to any area that is relatively hotter than the surrounding, but generally refers to human-disturbed areas.

Monthly rainfall is greater downwind of cities, partially due to the UHI. Increases in heat within urban centers increases the length of growing seasons, and decreases the occurrence of weak tornadoes. The UHI decreases air quality by increasing the production of pollutants such as ozone, and decreases water quality as warmer waters flow into area streams and put stress on their ecosystems.

Not all cities have a distinct urban heat island, and the heat island characteristics depend strongly on the background climate of the area in which the city is located. Mitigation of the urban heat island effect can be accomplished through the use of green roofs and the use of lighter-colored surfaces in urban areas, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat.

Concerns have been raised about possible contribution from urban heat islands to global warming. While some lines of research did not detect a significant impact, other studies have concluded that heat islands can have measurable effects on climate phenomena at the global scale.

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Potential Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Climate change Environment Antarctica Glaciers

The Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is the segment of the continental ice sheet that covers West Antarctica, the portion of Antarctica on the side of the Transantarctic Mountains that lies in the Western Hemisphere. The WAIS is classified as a marine-based ice sheet, meaning that its bed lies well below sea level and its edges flow into floating ice shelves. The WAIS is bounded by the Ross Ice Shelf, the Ronne Ice Shelf, and outlet glaciers that drain into the Amundsen Sea.

European Super Grid

Climate change Europe Energy

The European super grid is a possible future super grid that would ultimately interconnect the various European countries and the regions around Europe's borders – including North Africa, Kazakhstan, and Turkey – with a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power grid.

It is envisaged that a European super grid would:

  • lower the cost of power in all participating countries by allowing the entire region to share the most efficient power plants;
  • pool load variability and power station unreliability, reducing the margin of inefficient spinning reserve and standby that have to be supplied;
  • allow for wider use of renewable energy, particularly wind energy, from the concept that "it is always windy somewhere" – in particular it tends to be windy in the summer in North Africa, and windy in the winter in Europe;
  • allow wide sharing of the total European hydro power resource, which is about 6 weeks of full load European output;
  • decrease Europe's dependence on imported fuels.

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Extreme weather events of 535–536

Climate change China Meteorology Classical Greece and Rome Greece Rome Ireland Greece/Byzantine world Peru

The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2,000 years. The event is thought to have been caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil, possibly resulting from a large volcanic eruption in the tropics or in Iceland. Its effects were widespread, causing unseasonable weather, crop failures, and famines worldwide.

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