How Earth has Changed Over Time Naturally, and Why it is Different Now
Earth has seen different climates all this time, sometimes snow is raining all year round, and other times it is like a hotbox. This has been continuing since it was formed billions of years ago. How we humans are made responsible for the dramatic change in climate that has taken place in recent years Well, this happened because we can clearly show a direct relationship between climate and carbon emissions. The higher the emission levels, the greater the impact on the earth’s climate, with primarily negative consequences. Global temperatures have been rising since the pre-industrial period. As more carbon dioxide gets trapped in the atmosphere, the more heat gets trapped on the planet.
But we humans are not solely responsible for this escalating global warming. Scientists have taken a great leap in understanding, how climate change took place before the human era. And here are those ways mentioned below:
Time frame: 1 to 20 years
Magnitude: Approximately 0.6 to 2 degrees Celsius of cooling
During the years 540 or 539 A.D., the Ilopango Volcano in El Salvador erupted so fiercely that its flames and gases reached into the stratosphere. Because of cold summers, famine, drought, and plagues, living organisms all around the world have vanished. Eruptions like this damage the stratosphere by injecting it with reflective particles of sulfuric acid that act like a mirror to the sun’s rays, creating a cool environment all around the globe. Reflecting sunlight back into space can increase ice in the sea, which results in prolonged global cooling.
Ilopango Volcano resulted in a 2 degree drop in the global temperature and lasted for around 20 years. A more recent eruption was that of Pinatubo, which gave a drop of around 0.6 degrees and continued for a period of 15 months.
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Time frame: Regular, overlapping cycles of 23,000, 41,000, 100,000, 405,000 and 2,400,000 years
Magnitude: Approximately 6 degrees Celsius in the last 100,000-year cycle; varies through geological time
Earths orbits wobbles because the gravity attraction of Sun, Moon and other planets. These cyclical wobbles are also known as Milankovitch Cycles. These wobbles have been there throughout time, yielding the alternating layers of sediment you see in cliffs and road cuts. During the Pleistocene epoch, Milankovitch Cycles sent the planet in and out of ice age several times, this period ended about 11,700 years ago. When these wobbles made the northern summers warmer than average, large amount of ice sheet around North America, Asia, and Europe melted like butter, and when the orbit cooled northern summers the opposite happened, those ice froze up again. And since warm oceans dissolve less carbon dioxide than cooler ones, the level of carbon dioxide in atmosphere got high and low in proportion to these orbital wobbles.
In today’s time, Earth is approaching another cooler effect of orbital wobble, so without human carbon emissions, we would be heading straight into another ice age for around 1,500 years or so.
Time frame: Millions of years
Magnitude: Roughly 30 degrees Celsius over the past 500 million years
The shifting of land masses on Earth’s crust can steadily move the global thermostat to a new setting.
Plate tectonic collisions have shoved up chemically reactive rocks like basalt and volcanic ash in the warm, wet tropics, increasing the pace of processes that take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and the globe has been cooling for the last 50 million years or so. Furthermore, the construction of the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, and other mountains during the last 20 million years has more than quadrupled erosion rates, enhancing weathering. The migrating apart of South America and Tasmania from Antarctica 35.7 million years ago, which launched a new ocean circulation around Antarctica, was another factor in the cooling trend. This boosted ocean circulation and carbon dioxide-consuming plankton, causing Antarctica’s ice sheets to expand significantly.
In the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, moved freely in Antarctica (now an ice covered land) because of enhanced volcanic activity. In the absence of those mountain chains, sustained carbon dioxide levels would have been around 1,000 parts per million, compared to 415 ppm today. The average temperature of this ice-free world was 5 to 9 degrees Celsius warmer than now, and sea levels were around 250 feet higher.
Time frame: 30- to 160-year downturns in solar activity separated by centuries
Magnitude: 0.1 to 0.3 degrees Celsius of cooling
The Sun’s magnetic field slips every 11 years, which causes an 11-year cycle of solar brightening and dimming. However, the variation is small and it has little to no impact on the Earth’s climate. But the most notable is the Grand Solar Minima. This has occurred around 25 times in the last 11,000 years. The most recent example of this is the Maunder minimum, which happened between the years 1645 and 1715, during which solar energy dropped by 0.04% to 0.08% below the modern average. Most scientists thought that the Maunder Minimum caused the start of the Little Ice Age altogether, a cool period from the 15th to the 19th century. However, the sun has been dimming slightly for the last half-century while the Earth heats up, so global warming cannot be blamed on the sun.
All that said, saving our Earth from human-made carbon emissions should be our top priority every time. The ways mentioned above were not as detrimental as today’s condition. Otherwise, the Earth would have exploded by now. We should focus on making our planet cleaner and healthier. And we should take initiative in this from our teen years alone, as if the habit of cleaning was instilled in them from the start, it would be much more beneficial for all the inhabitants of Earth. At the same time, this would also be a great topic to write on this earth day, proving to be of a great assignment help.