What Is Global Warming

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What is
Global Warming?

What is Global Warming?
Lesson Objectives:
• To understand what is meant by ‘global
warming’
• To know what we think causes global
warming.
• To begin to understand how our activities can
cause climate change.

The sun sends out energy
as heat and light. This
energy comes to our earth
during the day time.

Some of the sun’s rays get
‘trapped’ in the atmosphere.
Some of them get reflected
back into space.
The ones which get through the
atmosphere warm the earth up.

All the time, the earth
radiates heat into
space, which cools it
down. We only really
notice this at night,
when there is no
heating from the sun.
Some of the heat going out is
trapped by the atmosphere.
This is what makes our planet
warm enough to live on.
But if too much heat is
trapped, our planet will
warm up and the climate will
change.

What is the atmosphere and why
does it trap heat?
The atmosphere is the air around the
surface of the earth. It is made from a
mixture of gases. We need it for
animals and plants to survive.
Some of the gases act like a blanket,
trapping heat. These gases are called
‘greenhouse gases’.
This is known as the ‘Natural
Greenhouse Effect’. Without it, the
earth would be much colder.

(the atmosphere is
really much thinner
than it looks above)

So why is global warming
happening?
Some things that people do are
increasing the amounts of the
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
so more heat is trapped.
The heating of the earth through
human activities is called the
‘Enhanced Greenhouse Effect’ and
this is causing the earth to heat up, or
global warming.
Global warming doesn’t just mean
that the earth gets hotter, it means
that the whole climate is changing.

(the atmosphere is
really much thinner
than it looks above)

Natural
Greenhouse
effect
Heat radiates
from the earth

Atmosphere
has more
greenhouse
gases

Enhanced
Greenhouse
effect

Heat radiates
from the earth
Less heat
goes out
to space

Some heat
goes out to
space

Atmosphere traps
some heat

Quite a lot of heat
is trapped and the
earth is warm
enough for life.

Atmosphere traps
more heat

More heat is
trapped and
causes global
warming

Which gases in the atmosphere trap heat?
The atmosphere is made of 78% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen.
But these gases don’t trap heat and cause global warming or climate change.
What % of the atmosphere is left?
The gases which trap heat make up
less than 1% of the atmosphere! They
are called the ‘greenhouse gases’.
The main greenhouse gases are:
Carbon dioxide
Methane
Nitrous oxide
Ozone
Water vapour
Halocarbons

Human activity
increases the
amount of these
gases in the
atmosphere

How do humans increase carbon dioxide levels in
the atmosphere?
Burning fossil fuels
releases the carbon dioxide
stored millions of years
ago. Most of the increased
carbon dioxide comes from
fossil fuels

Deforestation releases the
carbon stored in trees. Less
trees also means less carbon
dioxide can be removed from
the atmosphere.

How do humans increase methane levels in the
atmosphere?
Methane is produced when
bacteria rot organic matter

Increased livestock farming

Methane is also
released when
fossil fuels are
extracted

Increased rice growing

Increased
rubbish in
landfill

The amount of methane in
the atmosphere has
increased by two and a half
times since the Industrial
Revolution.

We humans are thought to be the
main cause of global warming and
climate change……..
but we still have the chance to do
something about it.

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