The rise in the global mean temperature of the Earth is known as global warming. In the 20th century, the global mean temperature has increased by approximately 0.6°C. Rising global temperature leads to changes in the rainfall patterns in the world. While some areas may experience recurrent droughts, some regions may experience regular flooding.
Causes of Global Warming
- Greenhouse Effect: One of the major causes of global warming is the excessive accumulation of greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide traps the heat of the Sun and does not allow part of the heat to go back into space. This has led to an increase in the temperature of the Earth, resulting in global warming.
- Deforestation: Large-scale cutting of trees has also played an important role in increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and maintain the fertility of the soil. Therefore, the large-scale destruction of forest cover results in global warming.
- Indiscriminate Burning of Fossil Fuels: When fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum are burned, they release a large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere resulting in global warming.
Effects of Global Warming
Melting of Snow and the Rise in the Sea Level:
Global warming has raised the temperature of the Earth. This has resulted in the melting of glaciers and the consequent rise in the sea level. The rise in the sea level results in
- Coastal erosion
- Coastal flooding
- Threat to coastal structures
- Increase in salinity of the estuaries and aquifers
Change in the Pattern of Precipitation:
Warming of the atmosphere increases the rate of evaporation and the moisture-carrying capacity of winds. It has been predicted by scientists that the warming of the troposphere and the cooling down of the stratosphere will influence the pattern of precipitation over vast regions in coming years. This could result in an increased level of rainfall at higher latitudes during the summers and winters. During winters, however, the rainfall may decrease in areas of lower latitudes.
Imbalance in Radiation:
Life is possible on the Earth because of the balance maintained between the incoming and outgoing radiation of the Sun. Any change in this balance will impact many life forms. It is also feared that global warming may gradually lead to the death of trees replacing them with scrub vegetation, which generally grows in regions experiencing high temperature and scanty rainfall.
It is estimated that global warming may influence the pattern of cultivation. While some crops may witness increased production, other crops may see a decline in their productivity.
A phenomenal change in the temperature and level of rainfall may cause the outbreak of many diseases like malaria. It is thus important to save our environment and reduce the emission of carbon in the atmosphere. We can do this by:
- Using cleaner sources of energy like solar and wind energy
- To use car pooling or public transport
- To save electricity
- By planting trees
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