Maslin Questions: Chapt. 3, 4 & 5

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Maslin Questions: Chapt. 3, 4 & 5.

1. Chapter 3 is not written in a very dramatic style, but perhaps there are some interesting nuggets we can extract!

a. I had difficulty understanding Fig. 8. Maybe the diagram on the next page, which was taken from the Britannica, will help:

Note that the book says (I think) that the Holocene Period as a whole is relatively warm but we’ve been living in an ice house because the poles are glaciated. How does this extreme temperature gradient on our planet affect climate and weather?

b. p. 49 summarizes a controversy triggered by Christy’s removal of Mt. Pinatubo data when computing an average temperature. Assuming he was open about what he was doing, do you think this omission was fair?

c. Try to summarize succinctly both sides of the issues enumerated in the section called “What do the sceptics say?”

2. Chapter 4 covers much of the same material as the lecture. A clearer version of Fig. 13 is copied in below. There is also an alternative diagram.

a. How are the details of the carbon cycle relevant to modeling expected climate change in the future? How is the cycle relevant to understanding ice ages in the past?

b. Again, be able to give the arguments on each side of the points in “What the sceptics say.” (Note the British spelling of skeptic. BTW, the British billion has changed definition; I believe the tonne is still slightly larger than the ton.)

In British English, a billion used to be equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000), while in American English it has always equated to a thousand million (i.e. 1,000,000,000). British English has now adopted the American figure, though, so that a billion equals a thousand million in both varieties of English.

The same sort of change has taken place with the meaning of trillion. In British English, a trillion used to mean a million million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000). Nowadays, it's generally held to be equivalent to a million million (1,000,000,000,000), as it is in American English.

3. Chapter 5 moves the discussion from general climate change to generalizations about weather change. See Fig. 17.

a. Do increased temperatures increase the frequency and intensity of hurricanes? What is the take-away answer from this book? Or can you tell? (This might be a good topic for an Oral Report, especially given the discussion re Hurricane Irene this summer.)

b. Ocean currents seem even more complicated to me! Check out at least this home page on ENSO from the Scripps Oceanographic Institute:

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