Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint Exercise

1) Go to

2) Calculate your carbon footprint.  For each tab (Welcome, House, Flights, etc.) fill in the information asked for.

3) If it doesn’t apply to you, skip that tab.

4) If you live in a dorm and your academic institution does not provide the information, you can use information from your parent’s bills and calculate your footprint making the assumption you still live there.

5) When you are done entering all your information, go to the results page.  Take a screenshot of the results and paste it into your Word or pdf document.

6) Answer the following questions.

a) What is a carbon footprint?

b) What makes the greatest contribution to your CO2 emissions?

c) What are carbon offsets?

d) The goal of this assignment was for you to learn about all the potential contributions to the carbon cycle you are part of.  What were your major take-home lessons from this exercise?  If you are interested in making changes, what would they be?  What types of changes do you think would require societal change (infrastructure, technology) before you could make a significant change?



What Determines Global Temperatures?

What determines the radiative budget of the planet?

• Solar radiation from sun • Lost radiation back to space

• Absorbed radiation retained by planet

Radiative Forcings A radiative forcing is a factor that changes the

balance between radiation coming into the atmosphere and radiation going out.


Radiative Forcings Radiative forcing is a factor that changed in

the balance between radiation coming into the atmosphere and radiation going out.

Positive forcings tend on average to warm the

surface of the earth

Radiative Forcings Radiative forcing is a factor that changed in

the balance between radiation coming into the atmosphere and radiation going out.

Positive forcings tend on average to warm the

surface of the earth

Negative forcings tend on average to cool the surface of the earth.






Radiative forcings & feedbacks* •  Positive

– Greenhouse gases – Tropospheric ozone – Solar radiation – Black carbon on snow (also aerosols) – Water vapor* – Albedo* – loss of sea ice and snow cover.

•  Negative – Aerosols (clouds* and industrial aerosols) – Albedo – Landuse

Radiative forcings can change independent of global


Feedbacks are “forcings” that change with temperature.

Greenhouse gases

How do we know increases in these gases increase global


Historical Correlation

Quantum Mechanics

O2 and N2 do not absorb and emit energy from photons with

wavelengths in the infrared range.

Greenhouse gases do and in all


Weather versus Climate?






Weather vs. Climate • Weather

– Time scale: minutes to seasons – Spatial scale: local to regional

• Climate – Time scale: averaged of years and decades – Spatial scale: regional to global – Patterns of weather over long periods

• Hurricanes • Droughts • Precipitation • etc.


Global Temperatures

How do we measure the earth’s temperature?


Instrumental Record Thermometers and Satellites

16 1840’s to present 1978 to present

Instrumental Record • Weather stations around the world • Data collected by several different

research groups. – NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies

(GISS) – National Oceanographic and Atmospheric

Administration (NOAA) national Climate data Center (NCDC)

– Hadley Centre of the UK Meteorological Office (HADCRUT)

• They quality check the data and produce analyzed data sets. 17

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study (BEST) • Richard Muller – physicist who was

skeptical of other groups work • Analyzed global data using a different

methodology and additional data •  Found same patterns as other groups






Satellites • Measure temperature indirectly by

irradiance and at different layers of atmosphere

• Two groups analyze data • Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) • University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) • Both groups show warming trend

– RSS, 0.162 oC per decade – UAH, 0.138 oC per decade – Instrumental 0.2 oC per decade 19

Proxy Record


Temperature Proxies • Proxy

– something that reliably changes with temperature.

– Needs to be comparable to present measurements. Something that changed both before and and after the instrumental record.

• Types of Proxies – Isotopes in organisms and rocks – Isotopes in ice cores – Stratigraphic profiles of organisms – Tree ring data


During the ice ages, how did global temperatures fluctuate?


Pattern during ice ages • Changes from 4 oC to 7 oC • Change since last ice age of about 4 oC • Abrupt changes in Ice ages occur over

5000 to 10,000 years • Last 150 years 0.99 oC and predictions for

200 year period between 2 oC to 6 oC. • Causes of changes different






Since the last ice age, how do global temperatures fluctuate?

The last 1,800 years

The last 1,000 years 1,800 year global pattern

• Warmer today than anytime in that period • Medieval Climate Anomaly (800 – 1200 AD) • Little Ice Age (1550 – 1850 AD)


Pattern since industrial revolution

29 base period 1951-1980





Why is the Arctic warming so fast?


Arctic Warming

Arctic Warming 2 times global rate

Arctic Amplification • Sea ice acts as a reflector which cools the

Arctic. • As Arctic warms there is less sea ice on

average over the year. • Areas free of sea ice absorb heat instead

of reflect it. • This creates even more warming and

more ice melt. • Which results a positive feedback loop.


What about the oceans? Ocean versus land

Air above oceans versus ocean water







Energy Budget Inflation

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