Climate Change: A Threat of the Era

  • Abhijit Mitra


Weather changes all the time. It is highly dynamic in nature. The average pattern of weather, called climate, usually remains uniform for centuries if it is left to itself. However, the Earth is not being left alone. People are taking multidimensional actions that are gradually changing the morphology, physiology and anatomy of the planet Earth and its climate in large scale. The single human activity that is most likely to have a large impact on the climate is the burning of ‘fossil fuels’ such as coal, oil and natural gas. These fuels contain carbon. Burning them liberates carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. Since the early 1800s, when people started burning large amounts of coal and oil, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased by nearly 30 %, and average global temperature appears to have risen between 1 and 2 °F. This increment of temperature is keenly related to the basic property of the gas. Carbon dioxide gas traps solar heat in the atmosphere, partly in the same way as glass traps solar heat in a sunroom or a greenhouse. For this reason, carbon dioxide is sometimes called a ‘greenhouse gas’. As more carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, solar heat faces more trouble in getting out. The result is that, if everything else remains unchanged, the average temperature of the atmosphere would increase. With increased rate of industrialization and urbanization, the demand for fossil-fuel-based energy has hiked up. As people burn more fossil fuels for energy, they add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This creates a blanket of carbon dioxide over the Earth’s surface, which allows only the short waves of the sun to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere, but prevents the long-wave radiations (emitted from the Earth’s surface) to get out. If this activity continues for a long period of time, the average temperature of the atmosphere will almost certainly rise. This is commonly referred to as global warming. Global warming is thus the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. The term ‘global warming’ is a subset of the universal set climate change, which also encompasses another subset called ‘global cooling’. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) uses the term ‘climate change’ for human-induced changes and ‘climate variability’ for other changes. Climate change is therefore any long-term significant change in the ‘average weather’ that a given region experiences and involves changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over durations ranging from decades to millions of years. The roots of these changes can be related to several dynamic processes on Earth, external forces including variations in sunlight intensity and more recently by human activities.


Global Warming Tropical Cyclone Bengal Basin Average Global Temperature Himalayan Glacier 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Important References

  1. Antonov JI, Levitus S, Boyer TP (2005) Steric variability of the world ocean, 1955–2003. Geophys Res Lett 32(12):L12602. doi: 10.1029/2005GL023112 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chao B (1994) Man-made lakes and global sea level. Nature 370:258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chaudhuri AB, Choudhury A (1994) Mangroves of the Sundarbans, vol I, India. IUCN – The World Conservation Union, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  4. Church JA, Gregory JM (2001) Chapter 11: Changes in sea level. In: Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Dasgupta S, Laplante B, Meisner C, Wheeler D, Yan J (2009) The impact of sea level rise on developing countries: a comparative analysis. Clim Chang 93:379–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Davis CH, Li Y, McConnell JR, Frey MM, Hannah E (2005) Snowfall-driven growth in East Antarctica ice sheet mitigates recent sea-level rise. Science 308(5730):1898–1901PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dietze P (1997) Little warming with new global carbon cycle model. ESEF vol II. Accessed on 20 Feb 2010
  8. Enting I, Wigley T, Heimann M (1994) Future emissions and concentrations of carbon dioxide: key ocean/atmosphere/land analyses, CSIRO Technical Paper No. 31. CSIRO Australia, 1994 (Electronic Edition). Accessed on 03 July 2010
  9. Fergusson J (1863) Recent changes in the delta of the Ganges. Quat J Geol Soc 19:321–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gornitz V (2001) Impoundment, groundwater mining, and other hydrologic transformations: impacts on global sea level rise. In: Douglas BC, Kearney MS, Leatherman SP (eds) Sea level rise: history and consequences. Academic, San Diego, pp 97–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hanna E, Huybrechts P, Janssens I, Cappelen J, Steffen K, Stephens A (2005) Runoff and mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet: 1958–2003. J Geophys Res 110:D13108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hansen J (2006) Can we still avoid dangerous human-made climate change?. In: Presentation on December 6, 2005 to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
  13. Hansen J, Nazarenko L, Ruedy R, Sato M, Willis J, Del Genio A, Koch D, Lacis A, Lo K, Menon S, Novakov T, Perlwitz J, Russell G, Schmidt G, Tausnev N (2005) Earth’s energy imbalance: confirmation and implications. Science 308:1431–1435PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Howat I, Joughin I, Scambos T (2007) Rapid changes in ice discharge from Greenland outlet glaciers. Science 315:1559–1561PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Houghton JT, Meira Filho LG, Callander BA, Harris N, Kattenberg A (1995) In: Maskell K (ed) Climate change 1995: the science of climate change. Contribution of Working Group I to the second assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, ISBN 0-521-56433-6Google Scholar
  16. IPCC (2001) The scientific basis. Contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  17. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Summary for policymakers. IPCC Secretariat, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  18. Ishii M, Kimoto M, Sakamoto K, Iwasaki SI (2006) Steric sea level changes estimated from historical ocean subsurface temperature and salinity analyses. J Oceanogr 62(2):155–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Krabill W, Hanna E, Huybrechts P, Abdalati W, Cappelen J, Csatho B, Frederick E, Manizade S, Martin C, Sonntag J, Swift R, Thomas R, Yunge J (2004) Greenland ice sheet: increased coastal thinning. Geophys Res Lett 31:L24402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kulkarni AV, Mathur P, Rathore BP, Alex S, Thakur N, Kumar M (2002) Effect of global warming on snow ablation pattern in the Himalaya. Curr Sci 83(2):120–123Google Scholar
  21. Lombard A, Cazenave A, Traon PYL, Guinehut S, Cecile C (2006) Perspectives on present-day sea level change: a tribute to Christial le Provost. Ocean Dyn 56(5–6):445–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lough JM, Barnes DJ (1997) Several centuries of variation in skeletal extension, density and calcification in massive Porites colonies from the Great Barrier Reef: a proxy for seawater temperature and a background of variability against which to identify unnatural change. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 211:29–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Meier M, Dyurgerov M, Rick U, O’Neel S, Preffer W, Anderson R, Anderson S, Glazovsky A (2007) Glaciers dominate eustatic sea level rise in the 21st century. Science 317:1064–1067PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morgan JP, McIntire WG (1959) Quaternary geology of the Bengal Basin, East Pakistan and Burma. Bull Geol Soc Am 70:319–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oldham RD (1893) A manual of geology of India. Government of India, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  26. Overpeck J, Otto- Bliesner B, Miller G, Muhs D, Alley R, Kichl J (2006) Paleoclimatic evidence for future ice sheet instability and rapid sea level rise. Science 311:1064–1067CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pidwirny M (2006) Causes of climate change. In Fundamentals of physical geography, 2nd edn.Google Scholar
  28. Raha A, Das S, Banerjee K, Abhijit M (2012) Climate change impacts on Indian Sunderbans: a time series analysis (1924–2008). Biodivers Conserv 21(5):1289–1307. doi: 10.1007/s10531-012-0260-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. UNFAO Report (2006) Livestock – a major threat to Environment: remedies urgently needed. Reported by Christopher Matthews, Media Relations, FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  30. Rignot E, Kanagaratnam P (2006) Changes in the velocity structure of the Greenland ice sheet. Science 311:986–990PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sahagian DL (2000) Global physical effects of anthropogenic hydrological alterations: sea level and water redistribution. Global Planet Change 25:39–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sahagian DL, Schwartz FW, Jacobs DK (1994) Direct anthropogenic contributions to sea level rise in the twentieth century. Nature 367:54–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Seigenthaler U, Joos F (1992) Use of a simple model for studying oceanic tracer distributions and the global carbon cycle. Tellus B 44:186–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Singh OP, Ali Khan TM, Rahman S (2000) Changes in the frequency of tropical cyclones over the North Indian Ocean. Meteorol Atmos Phys 75:11–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Singh OP, Ali Khan TM, Rahman S (2001) Has the frequency of intense tropical cyclones increased in the North Indian Ocean? Curr Sci 80:575–580Google Scholar
  36. Stroeve J, Holland M, Meier W, Scambos T, Serreze M (2007) Arctic sea ice decline: faster than forecast. Geophys Res Lett 34:L09501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Velicogna I, Wahr J (2006) Measurements of time variable gravity show mass loss in Antarctica. Science 311:1754–1756PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wadia DN (1961) Geology of India. M.C. Muller & Co Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Willis JK, Roemmich D, Cornuelle B (2004) International variability in upper-ocean heat content, temperature and thermosteric expansion on global scales. J Geophys Res 109:C12036. doi: 10.1029/2003JC002260 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abhijit Mitra
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of CalcuttaKolkataIndia

Personalised recommendations