Questions

1 The lifetime of a carbon dioxide molecule in the atmosphere before it is exchanged with the ocean is typically less than a year, while the time taken for an increase in carbon dioxide concentration from fossil fuel burning to diminish substantially is typically many years. Explain the reasons for this difference.

2 Estimate how much carbon dioxide you emit each year through breathing.

3 Estimate the size of your share of carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

4 A typical city in the developed world with a population of about one million produces about half a million tonnes of municipal waste each year. Suppose the waste is buried in a landfill site where the waste decays producing equal quantities of carbon dioxide and methane. Making assumptions about the likely carbon content of the waste and the proportion that eventually decays, estimate the annual production of methane. If all the methane leaks away, using the information in Note 12, compare the greenhouse effect of the

Surface albedo (0.86 jjm)

Figure 3.12 Global surface albedo for the period 1-16 January 2002, showing the proportion of incoming solar radiation that is reflected from the Earth's surface at a wavelength of 0.86 |jm. (Data from MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite; visualisation by Eric Moody, RS Information Systems Inc.)

Surface albedo (0.86 jjm)

Figure 3.12 Global surface albedo for the period 1-16 January 2002, showing the proportion of incoming solar radiation that is reflected from the Earth's surface at a wavelength of 0.86 |jm. (Data from MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite; visualisation by Eric Moody, RS Information Systems Inc.)

carbon dioxide and methane produced from the landfill site with that of the carbon dioxide produced if the waste were incinerated instead. Discuss how far waste is a 'renewable' energy resource.

5 A new forest is planted containing 1 million trees which will mature in 40 years. Estimate the amount of carbon sequestered per year by the forest.

6 Find figures for the amount of fuel used by a typical aircraft and the size of fleets of the world's airlines and airforces and estimate the carbon dioxide emitted globally each year by the world's aircraft.

7 Search for information about the ozone hole and explain why it occurs mainly in the Antarctic.

8 What are the main uses of CFCs? Suggest ways in which the emissions of CFCs to the atmosphere could be reduced more rapidly.

9 Evidence is sometimes presented suggesting that the variations in global average temperature over the last century or more can all be explained as due to variations in the energy output of the Sun. There is therefore nothing left to attribute to the increase in greenhouse gases. What is the fallacy in this argument?

10 With the use of the formula given in the text, calculate the radiative forcing due to carbon dioxide for atmospheric concentrations of 150, 280, 450, 560 and 1000 ppm.

11 Making approximate assumptions about particle size and scattering properties, estimate the optical depth equivalent to 25 mg[SO4] m-2 in Figure 3.7b. Then estimate global average radiative forcing due to sulphate aerosol.

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