Natural Global Warming Causes
By guest writer, Sarah B
Not aware of natural global warming causes?
While much of the focus regarding global warming has been on manmade causes, there are several events in the natural world that can contribute to global warming. These natural events have been taking place for millions of years, way before mankind’s existence, and will continue to do so until the end of time.
One of the major natural global warming causes is volcanic eruptions.
Not only do volcanic eruptions destroy lives and property, they also pollute the air and contribute to temporary global warming. This is because when volcanoes erupt, they spew millions of pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at one time. Of course, we know that carbon dioxide is one of the leading green house gasses. This abrupt change in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere can lead to a brief warming period on Earth.
In addition, volcanic eruptions may at times release other green house gases like methane, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and hydrogen chloride.
Another major natural cause of global warming is the sun’s activity. Even though it is millions of miles away, it can still have a huge impact on the temperatures on Earth.
Occasionally, we will see a change in solar radiation caused by solar activities like sunspots or solar flares, which changes the amount of energy (eg. visible, infrared and ultraviolet) that is reaching the Earth. These changes tend to happen on an eleven-year cycle. During periods when there is increased radiation reaching the Earth, our planet’s atmosphere experiences short term warming cycles.
The sources of methane in nature are also another cause of global warming causes.
Methane is a green house gas, and is released into the atmosphere not only during volcanic eruptions, but by wetlands and swamps. Places such as tundra, peat bogs and wetlands produce methane, through the natural decomposition process when plants and animals in these places die. The moisture and water in these wetlands enhance the decomposition process. Overall, the Earth is covered by seven to nine million kilometers of wetlands. This translates to approximately four to six percent of the planet’s surface.
The evaporation of ocean water is one of the less known natural global warming causes.
In fact, the ocean stores a large proportion of the planet’s carbon. The evaporation of ocean water releases the stored carbon dioxide. Under normal circumstances, the release of this green house gas is slow or the carbon could be stored again in other mediums. Read about carbon sequestering in the ocean and how it forms part of the carbon cycle.
However, with the existing high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the additional carbon dioxide released from the oceans simply adds to the problem. As the Earth continues to warm, we will see more and more evaporation from the ocean, resulting in a vicious cycle toward further global warming.
Read related articles on natural causes of global warming.
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