Global Warming and Our Oceans

By Meagan McNicholas

What is Global Warming? Why is it Happening?

When the sun hits the earth, about half of heat energy that hits the earth is rebounded back into space from the earth. The other half of the heat energy is absorbed by the earth and then trapped by the earth’s atmosphere by greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. Some of these gases in the atmosphere are good because they trap the heat and keep the earth warm enough for us to live on. However, we are currently putting too much carbon dioxide into the air and it is making our earth’s atmosphere too thick and too hard for the heat from the sun to escape through. This is what is known as global warming and it is what is heating up our earth today. The extra carbon dioxide that is going into the atmosphere is all man made. We are an industrial people and therefore we are creating new machines and being more technological than ever before. These machines that didn’t exist long ago, like cars, are polluting the earth and sending huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which is causing the warming.

How Does Global Warming Effect Our Climate?

The heating of the earth due to the global warming humans are causing is having an effect on our oceans. As the temperature of the air rises, it causes the temperature of our oceans to rise too and glaciers to melt because of the warmer air and ocean. This is causing our sea level to rise because when the glaciers melt, all that floating ice turns into ocean water instead. Rising sea levels are having negative effects on the global climate and weather. The rising sea is causing the surges from storms to be greater, and this means that more damage will be caused to the land and the coast because the water level is higher so the storm will reach further inland and causing more flooding than ever.

Heating of the Ocean and Hurricane Activity

The heating of the earth is having an especially bad effect on the intensity level of hurricanes in that they are getting stronger and more destructive. Because of global warming the ocean temperatures are rising and the surface temperatures of the ocean are therefore rising too. When the surface temperatures of ocean water get higher, the warm, moist air from the ocean rises off the water and this lowers the air pressure at the sea level. When the air pressure is lowered, the air near the area is drawn upward in a pattern that is rotating. As this warm air heavy with water vapor continues to rise, it cools off and releases the heat it contained and turns into precipitation. Through this cycle of warm air evaporation and then condensation, the heat that is coming off of the ocean turns into an energy vortex that is a hurricane. It is because the temperatures of the ocean water are rising, that hurricanes is becoming more common and they are also stronger because they have more heat energy than ever before to power them.
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Above is a picture demonstrating how the warm air off the ocean rises and rotates and the turns into precipitation. This makes a storm gain energy from the heat off the ocean from the air causing devastation to lands around it.

How We Can Help!

There are things we can do to help. For starters, not driving the car to close places or carpooling to places with friends or family would be a great way to cut down on the amount of CO2 we are releasing into the atmosphere. Cars are one of the most harmful machines when it comes to releasing carbon dioxide into the air and they are also one of the easiest things for most people to fix. Another thing we can do to cut down the amount of CO2 we are releasing into the air and in turn reduce the number of strong storms in our oceans is to plant more trees and plants. Vegetation uses CO2 in photosynthesis, which is how they get their food. So, if we plant more organisms that use carbon dioxide, then that will help get some of the carbon dioxide that is in the air out of it again and bring the levels down to a level that is healthier for the planet. It may not feel like you as one person can make a difference in the world, but you can inspire change and the more people realize the harm global warming is doing to our earth, the more they will change their lifestyle patterns and the earth will begin to heal one day at a time.