WHAT’S NEXT IN CLIMATE CHANGE? THE FACTS!

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by William J. Langenberg, M.Sc. Agr. Climatology, Env. Biology, formerly Kemptville College

The Kemptville Campus (formerly Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology) has a Climate Station, which has been providing daily climate data to Environment Canada, Atmospheric Environment Service, for close to ninety years. This recording station was operated manually for 70 years by the greenhouse staff until the late 90s, when it became an automated recording station. The Kemptville Climate Station is one of the approximately 750 stations across Canada used for recording daily climate records. These climate data are recorded twice-a-day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

By 1986 the Annual Daily Mean Temperature at KCAT increased by 0.50 Celsius. During the fall of 1986, this author spent a few days at the Agricultural Climate Centre at the Ottawa Experimental Farm recording annual daily mean temperatures on Campus that occurred over the previous 50 years. The data recorded showed that the annual mean daily temperature on Campus had increased by 0.5 0 C (1936-1986).

Global temperature recordings have been accurately measured since 1880. All climate data published before 1880 were considered unreliable because of lack of multiple data. The data show that the global mean surface temperature increased from 13.73 C (1880) to 14.18 C (1980), a 0.450 C increase, which is identical to the recordings at Kemptville College.

Annual Daily Mean Temperature increase due to an increase in GHG gases, particularly CO2.

During the late 90s, Agricultural Students at KCAT, part of their Agricultural Climatology Course, had a field trip to the IMAX theatre in Hull, where they watched the movie “BLUE PLANET” on the big screen. In the movie, the astronauts filmed the atmosphere and the earth out of the International Space Station. They commented: “Look how thin the atmosphere is, and how fragile this thin layer is towards an influx of Greenhouse Gases.

Atmospheric CO2 recording started at the atmospheric observation station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

During the 50s, one of the factors thought to affect the earth surface temperatures was the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide was determined to be a GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG) at that time. At the observatory on Mauna Loa, the atmospheric carbon dioxide is measured daily and averaged to monthly data since 1957. The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere on August 1957 was 315 ppm, which increased to 419 ppm in August 2021 – a 33% increase.

Carbon Dioxide increase in the atmosphere increases the vapor content of the atmosphere.

This 33 % increase in atmospheric CO2 means that it does not reflect much of the incoming short wave solar radiation, but it does strongly absorbs outgoing, long wave, terrestrial thermal radiation from the earth. The CO2 gas accumulated in the atmosphere sends the absorbed heat back towards the earth surface, subsequently warming the lowest layer of the atmosphere. Because of this warming effect, moisture is released into the atmosphere through transpiration by garden plants, agricultural crops, and trees. Moisture is also released by evaporation from water bodies (i.e. fog along the Rideau River). This transpiration and evaporation process increases the water vapor content of the lower atmosphere (20 km) to roughly 2%. This water vapor also absorbs terrestrial radiation and sends the heat back to the earth surface, warming up the earth even more. However, the water vapour content of the atmosphere is only temporary, as it returns to earth as precipitation.

Evaluating CO2 emissions per capita by Country is misleading.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions are often evaluated by many on a per capita basis, which is misleading. For example: Canada’s per capita emission is 16.4 tons, Australia (16.8 tons), and Germany (9.10 tons). Canada has a population density of 4, which means 4 people live in this country on a square kilometre. Australia has a population density of 3. Both Canada and Australia are the least populated countries in the world and have the largest land base. Some European countries, like Holland, have a population density of 450 people per square kilometre. Germany, for example, an industrial nation, has a population density of 232 and a greenhouse gas emission rate of 975 megatons of CO2, while Canada and Australia have a CO2 emission of 736 and 518 megatons respectively. (OECD.data)

Germany, along with its European partners, built an oil pipeline from Russia through Europe to eliminate oil transport by sea. The UK, having no access to Russian oil, and no longer a partner of the European Union, decided to go electric. Canada and Australia, on the other hand, with their own natural resources and a large land base, can manage its carbon emissions by CARBON SEQUESTRATION. This is called CARBON FARMING, whereby carbon is returned to the soil. Carbon sequestration has created some interest in North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford, as two local farmers are focusing on this Carbon Management Technique.

This Carbon Sequestration interest among these two farmers is in line with the International Initiative “4 per 1000”, launched by France on 1 December 2015 at the COP 21. Canada is a signatory to this initiative. An annual growth rate of 0.4% in the soil carbon stocks, or 4% per year, in the first 30-40 cm of soil, would significantly reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere related to human activities.

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