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What is Global warming | Eutrophication | Acidification | Ozone Depletion

What is Global warming | Eutrophication | Acidification | Ozone Depletion

Every process happening both in the biosphere and in the technosphere leaves certain impacts on the planet. Assessing these impacts and controlling the processes to maintain these impacts under optimum levels is the utmost requirement of planet earth. This article presents a basic understanding of a few such major climate change impact categories like Global warming, Eutrophication, Ozone depletion and acidification. 

Climate Change Impacts

Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere. This term is regularly used interchangeably with the term climate change, though the latter refers to both human- and naturally produced warming and the effects it has on the planet. It is most commonly measured as the average increase in Earth’s global surface temperature. Since the pre-industrial period, human activities are estimated to have increased Earth’s global average temperature by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), a number that is currently increasing by 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.36 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. Most of the current warming trend is extremely likely (greater than 95% probability) the result of human activity since the 1950s and is proceeding at an unprecedented rate over decades to millennia.

Units: kg CO2 eq

Eutrophication is a process where a body of water like lakes, ponds becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients caused mainly due to industrial, household discharges which induce excessive growth of algae. This process may result in oxygen depletion of the water body which results in loss of other aquatic life. One example is an “algal bloom” or great increase of phytoplankton in a sandy body as a response to decreased levels of nutrients. Eutrophication is often induced by the discharge of nitrate or phosphate-containing detergents, fertilizers, or sewage into an aquatic system.

Units: kg P eq/kg N eq

Ocean Acidification is a term used to describe significant changes to the chemistry of the ocean. It occurs when carbon dioxide gas is absorbed by the ocean and reacts with seawater to produce acid. Although CO2 gas naturally moves between the atmosphere and the oceans, the increased amounts of CO2 gas emitted into the atmosphere, mainly as a result of human activities (e.g. burning fossil fuels), has been increasing the amount of CO2 absorbed by the ocean, which results in seawater that is more acidic.

Terrestrial Acidification is a process of atmospheric deposition of inorganic substances, such as sulphates, nitrates and phosphates, causing a change in acidity levels in the soil. For almost all plant species, there is a clearly defined optimum level of acidity. A serious deviation from this optimum level is harmful to that specific kind of species and is referred to as acidification. Emission of NOx, NH3 or SO2 is followed by atmospheric fate before it is deposited on the soil. Subsequently, it will leach into the soil, changing the soil solution H+ concentration. This change in acidity can affect the plant species living in the soil, causing them to disappear

Units: kg SO2 eq

Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: High up in the atmosphere in a region known as the stratosphere, ozone filters out incoming radiation from the Sun in the cell-damaging ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum. Without this ozone layer, life on earth would not have evolved in the way it has. Increases in Ultra Violet (UVB) radiation caused by reductions in stratospheric ozone concentrations are associated with effects on Biogeochemical cycles - the balance between production and destruction of organic matter. Effect on natural emissions of CO and CO2 and mineral nutrient cycling. Air quality - increases in the amount of chemical activity in the lower atmosphere and the rate of removal of primary pollutants from the atmosphere. Ecosystems - aquatic foodweb - UVB has a negative impact on growth, photosynthesis, protein content and reproduction of phytoplankton. Terrestrial organisms and altered patterns of gene activity.

Units: kg CFC11 eq

Ionizing radiation is the process in which an electron is given enough energy to break away from an atom is called ionisation. This process results in the formation of two charged particles or ions: the molecule with a net positive charge, and the free electron with a negative charge. Ionising radiation is the energy produced from natural or artificial sources. It has more energy than non-ionising radiation, enough to cause chemical changes by breaking chemical bonds. This effect can cause damage to living tissue.

Units: kBq Co-60 eq

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