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CUNY Bronx Community College Cryosphere Wind Water & Deserts Discussion


  1. YOU MUST ANSWER THIS FIRST (10 points, mandatory). In the film Hot Planet, Cold Comfortmany of the changes scientists have been seeing in the last few decades are related to climate change. Describe the main themes of the film. Say what the scientists were measuring and how (i.e., describe the techniques that they used). Say what changes are being seen in the water cycle and how glaciers have been contributing to freshening of northern seas. Discuss the possibility of abrupt climate cooling in the climate of the North Atlantic and Europe in the next 150 years with reference to the ocean thermohaline circulation system. Say why this cooling (and other bout of cold weather is consistent with a planet that is warming overall.


  1. (5 points). The Cryosphere: Summarize what scientists using measurements made by orbiting satellites, aircraft, and on the ground tell us about how and why the different parts of the cryosphere are changing (and why they care).
  2. (5 points) Winds and Deserts: Describe what factors determine planetary scale flows of air (“winds”). Describe the locations and characteristics of deserts and explain why they are located where they are. Could human-accelerated warming change the extent of deserts, and if so, how?
  3. (5 points) Water, Climate, and Weather: (i) How is water (in solid, liquid, and gas phases) important for Earth’s climate? (ii) What role does water vapor play in severe weather events such as tropical storms such as hurricanes and typhoons? (iii) What is the effect of global warming on the hydrologic cycle and what are the implications for drought, flooding, and agriculture?
  4. (5 points) Water, Climate, Weather, the Ocean, New Jersey: Write a short essay entitled “Impacts of Climate Change on the Jersey Shore”. Also explain why many scientists now think that the dramatic reduction in the extent of seasonal Arctic sea ice over the last 40 years can affect the weather in New Jersey (and how it can affect our weather).
  5. (5 points) The Ocean: Discuss the state of the world’s oceans, including a list of major threats. Discuss the causes and effects of ocean acidification and temperature changes and their implications for coral reefs. Are these threats likely to become more or less problematic – and why? In your answer explain why coral reefs are so important to humanity; why would it be so hard for us to simply say “So long – and thanks for all the fish”?
  6. (5 points) The Ocean: Explain why, how, and where ocean anoxic zones (“dead zones”) form, giving at least one example. What other biological threats to ocean (and beach) life have been seen in recent years? Hint: Florida, 2017, red tide.
  7. (5 points) The Ocean and Weather Describe the phenomenon known as El Niño and its impacts? Explain how El Niño affects both the marine (ocean) and terrestrial (land) biosphere.


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