John Dykeman Blog

aimless ramblings of a humble gentleman from Montreal. Urban Gardening, Travel, Flight, Art, Science

My Photo
Location: Kirkland, QC, Canada

Sharing some images and thoughts from travel, local area, garden. Family roots in USA.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

global warming....more than just CO2 levels rising. 400ppm (average) in atmosphere now....


Note that this Blog entry is a work in progress and will grow every week....

My background is Chemistry (MSc, BSc Honours) with considerable background in the infrared spectrometer sector, having worked at Bomem (now ABB) of Qu├ębec City  which continue to produce high quality infrared spectrometers. Bomem, in the past, was a major contributor to supplying specialized spectrometers for study of ozone layer, both wing borne, in U2 high altitude aircraft (NASA owned and operated) and high resolution land based units at South Pole and at near North Pole, also for study of atmospheric gases (including CFC radicals, which are ozone layer scavengers) and other high altitude gases.

As such some of this background will support these fundamental  arguments, so that, perhaps, some folks will start to understand the concept of 'greenhouse gases' and how it could (could, but most probably will) cause or accelerate global climate change. This is not to promote a cause from either side, just a simple, but from scientific principles, explain what the heck is greenhouse gas effect, and why should we care.

Climate Change,

What are Greenhouse Gases, and How it all Works.

Climate change can be brought about by changes in the gases in the atmosphere. There is a mixture of gases in the atmosphere, mostly being nitrogen (N2, that is two identical atoms of nitrogen, bonded together in triple bond) and O2, oxygen molecule also with two identical atoms (O, or Oxygen), bonded together.

Both form symetrical diatomic (two atoms) molecule (a collection of 2 or more atoms...two being the simplest). They do not absorb energy in the infrared region (heat) and are therefore not considered to be contributing to the 'greenhouse' effect.

CO2 (carbon dioxide, three atoms), water (H2O), and methane (CH4) are all molecules that can exhibit vibrational motions, which are those that absorb infrared. This happens when the molecule has a dipole moment, which means they can have an asymmetry in their look, due to the stretching, wagging, scissoring vibration movements that can occur. Molecules are not rigid (well, maybe at absolute zero or 0K, -273.15C.) and so have this property of absorbing energy in the infrared region (which is from 1000nm and higher until microwave region).

CO2 sources are plants  (at night, during day they use 'breath' CO2 and 'drink' water from soil to make sugar (chlorophyll does that, using sunlight), and liberates O2. Sugars are basic building block to make cellulose, which forms cell wall of plants, and imparts rigidity. Cellulose is for all intents and purposes, a polymeric form of sugar (which appear in different forms).

CO2 levels (concentrations) continue to rise and fall, but trend is upwards (to higher atmospheric concentrations, see below chart) so that now it has surpassed (for now) 400ppm in atmosphere. This is somewhat out of date, now we are 2014 (at time of writing). There is a correlation between atmospheric concentation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, or so this chart is implying, so that for every 50ppm more of CO2, average worldwide temperature rise +0.5C. This is average, in entire world. Arctic is running above the average (+2-3C higher decade over decade) and other parts of world less, so this all contributes to an average. The old story about averages is 'two hands; one is in an heated oven (say, 500Kelvin, or 225C), one is in liquid nitrogen (77K, or about -210 C), and on the average, 15 C, its pretty comfortable',