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Report Series HSE 88-001

CONFIDENTIAL

THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT

This document is confidential. Neither the whole nor any part of this document may be disclosed to any third party without the prior written consent of Shell lnternationale Petroleum Maatschappij B.V., The Hague, the Netherlands. The copyright of this document is vested in Shell lnternationale Petroleum Maatschappij B.V., The Hague, the Netherlands. All rights reserved. Neither the whole nor any part of this document may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, reprographic, recording or otherwise) without the prior written consent of the copyright owner.

SHELL INTERNATIONALE PETROLEUM MAATSCHAPPIJ B.V., THE HAGUE

Health, Safety and Environment Division (HSE)

Report Series HSE 88-001

CONFIDENTIAL

THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT

This document is confidential. Neither the whole nor any part of this document may be disclosed to any third party without the prior written consent of Shell lnternationale Petroleum Maatschappij B.V., The Hague, the Netherlands. The copyright of this document is vested in Shell lnternationale Petroleum Maatschappij B.V., The Hague, the Netherlands. All rights reserved. Neither the whole nor any part of this document may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, reprographic, recording or otherwise) without the prior written consent of the copyright owner.

SHELL INTERNATIONALE PETROLEUM MAATSCHAPPIJ B.V., THE HAGUE

Health, Safety and Environment Division (HSE)

CONFIDENTIAL

 

THE

GREENHOUSE

EFFECT

Greenhouse

effect

working

group

R.P.W.M.

Jacobs

HSE/35

M.H.

Griffiths

PL/15

P.E.

Bright

PAC/3

J.B.

Homer

SCCU

J.A.C.M.

van

Oudenhoven

MFPA/435

J.

Waller

MFPA/435

Shell

Internationale

Petroleum

Maatschappij

B.V.

Health,

Safety

and

Environment

Division

Environmental

Affairs

 

The

Hague

April

1986

(completion

of

the

study)

May

1988

(date

of

issue

in

this

format)

Prepared

for

SECC

 

(Shell

Environmental

Conservation

Committee)

SUMMARY

-

1

-

CONFIDENTIAL

Man-made carbon dioxide, released into and accumulated in the atmosphere, is

believed to warm the earth through the so-called greenhouse effect. The

gas

acts like the transparent walls of a greenhouse and traps heat in the atmosphere that would normally be radiated back into space. Mainly due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the atmospheric C02 concentration has increased some 15% in the present century to a level of about 340 ppm. If this trend continues, the concentration will be doubled by the third quarter of the next century. The most sophisticated geophysical computer models

predict that such a doubling could increase the global mean temperature by

l.3-3.3•c.

The

release

of

other

(trace)

gases,

notably

chlorofluorocarbons,

methane,

ozone

and

nitrous

oxide,

which

have

the

same

effect,

may

amplify

the warming by predicted factors ranging from 1.5 to 3.s•c.

 

Mathematical models of

the

earth's

climate

indicate

that

if

this

warming

occurs then it could create significant changes in sea level, ocean

currents, precipitation patterns,

regional

temperature

and

weather.

These

changes could be larger than any that have occurred over the last 12,000 years. Such relatively fast and dramatic changes would impact on the human environment, future living standards and food supplies, and could have major social, economic and political consequences.

There

is

reasonable

scientific

agreement

that

increased

levels

of

greenhouse

gases

would

cause

a

global

warming.

However,

there- is

no

consensus

about

the

degree

of

warming

and

no

very

good

understanding

what

the

specific

effects

of

warming

might

be.

But

as

long

as

man

continues

to

release

greenhouse

gases

into

the

atmosphere,

participation

in

such

a

global

"experiment"

is

guaranteed.

Many

scientists

believe

that

a

real

increase

in

the

global

temperature

will

be

detectable

towards

the

end

of

this

century

or

early

next

century.

In

the

meanwhile,

greater

sophistication

both

in

modelling

and

monitoring

will

improve

the

understanding

and

likely

outcomes.

However,

by

the

time

the

global

warming

becomes

detectable

it

could

be

too

late

to

take

effective

countermeasures

to

reduce

the

effects

or

even

to

stabilise

the

situation.

 

The

likely

time

scale

of

possible

change

does

not

necessitate

immediate

remedial

action.

However,

the

potential

impacts

are

sufficiently

serious

for

research

to

be

directed

more

to

the

analysis

of

policy

and

energy

options

than

to

studies

of

what

we

will

be

facing

exactly.

Anticipation

of

climatic

change

is

new,

preventing

undue

change

is

a

challenge

which

requires

international

cooperation.

 

With

fossil

fuel

combustion

being

the

major

source

of

C02

in

the

atmosphere,

a

forward

looking

approach

by

the

energy

industry

is

clearly

desirable,

seeking

to

play

its

part

with

governments

and

others

in

the

development

of

appropriate

measures

to

tackle

the

problem.

CONFIDENTIAL

 

-

2

-

CONTENTS

 

page

Summary

1

1.

Introduction

 

6

2.

Sci entific

data

 

7

2.1.

Introduction

7

2.2.

Data

on

emis s ions

of

greenhouse

 

gases

7

2.2.1.

Carbon

dioxide

 

7

2.2.2.

Other

greenhouse

gases

8

2.3.

The

global

carbon

cycle

10

2.3 .1.

Atmosphere

-

ocean

interactions

 

11

2.3.2.

Atmosphere

-

terrestrial

biosphere

interactions

13

2

. 3 .3.

Carbon

cycle

model l ing

 

15

3.

Scenarios

and

cl imate

modelling

17

3.1.

C02

emis s ions

and

future

energy

 

demand

17

3.2.

Proj ections

of non- C02

greenhouse

gases

18

3.3.

Temperature

and climatic changes

 

20

3

. 4.

Detection

of

the

greenhouse

effect

 

22

4.

Imp l ications

 

23

  • 4 . 1. Potential effects of global warming induced by greenhouse gases

23

  • 4 effects

. 1.1.

Abiotic

and biotic

consequences

23

4.1.2.

Socio- economic

impl ications

25

. 1.3.

  • 4 for

Impl ications

the

energy

indus try

28

  • 4 Shell

Imp l ications

. 1.4.

for

Companies

28

  • 5. for

Scope

further

action

30

  • 6. References

32

CONFIDENTIAL

 

-

3

-

FIGURES

 

page

Fig

.

1.

The

greenhouse

e ffect .

 

40

Fig .

2.

C02

derived

from

long-range

proj ections

 
 

and

emis s ions historic

production

from

fos s il

fuels .

 

41

Fig .

3.

Proj ected

C02

generated with

the

I IASA

 
 

Energy

Systems

emi ss ions Programme.

 

42

Fig .

4.

The

hypothetical

atmospheric

C02

concentrations

based

 

on

man-made

C02

emis s ions

and

the

observed

concentrations

 

at

Mauna

Loa

and the

 

South

Pole .

43

Fig .

5.

The

annual

mean

C02

concentration

in

the

air

at

different

 

places

in

the world .

 

44

Fig .

6.

The

global

carbon

cycle .

 

45

Fig .

7.

Variation

of

the

buffer

factor

 

of

seawater

with

changing

 

total

C02 .

46

Fig .

8.

Increase

in

atmospheric

C02

concentration

over

the

next

 

150

years .

47

Fig

.

9.

Fal l ing

energy

intens ity

in

the

USA

 

48

Fig .

10

.

Cumulative

surface

warming

due

 

to

increase

in

C02

 

and

other

gases

over

the

period

1980

to

2030 .

49

Fig .

1 1

.

Climatic

e ffects

of

a

doubl ing

 

of

the

present

atmospheric

 

C02

concentration .

50

Fig

.

1 2 .

Recons truction

of

anomalies

for

 

various

latitude

surface - air - temperature bands .

 

51

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

-

4

-

TABLES

page

Table

1.

C02

emissions

per

year

by

fuel

type .

 

52

Table

2.

Carbon produced

( as

C02 )

from

selected

energy

sources .

 

52

Table

3.

C02

emissions

per

region

and per

cap ita

in

1975 .

53

Table

4.

Es timates

of

the

abundance

 

of

trace

chemicals

in

the

glob al

 

atmosphere

of

1980

and

2030 .

 

54

Table

5.

Net

primary

productivities

 

per

given

areas

(NPP ) ,

total

 

areas

( in

19 80) ,

total

NPP

and

actual

b iomas s

per

ecosystem .

55

Table

6.

emiss ion

( in

GtC )

from

the

combust ion

of

fossil

and

 

Carbon b iomas s

fuels .

 

56

Table

7.

Shell

Group

interest

in fos s il

fuels

in

1984 .

 

57

Table

8.

Contribution to global C02 emiss ions from fuels

sold by

 

the

Shell

Group

in

1984 .

 

57

APPENDICES

Appendix

1.

Appendix

2.

Appendix

3.

Appendix

4.

Appendix

5.

Appendix

6.

Appendix

7.

Appendix

8.

CONFIDENTIAL

 

-

5

-

 

page

The

C02/carbonate

system

in

the

ocean .

 

58

Hileman ,

B.

Recent

reports

on

the

greenhouse

e ffect .

Environ .

Sci .

Techno! .

18 : 45A-46A ,

1984 .

61

Current

legis lation

and pol ices .

63

Excerpts

from

recent

UNEP

reports .

68

International

organisations

and

informat ion

centres .

75

Ins titutes

involved

in

C02/c limate/greenhouse

e ffect

research .

 

78

Relevant

publications

( reports

and books ) .

 

82

Visit

to

Cl imate

Research

Unit .

 

86

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

-

7

-

2. SCIENTIFIC DATA

 

2.1

.

Introduction

During

the

las t

century

the

concentration

of

carbon

dioxide

increased

from

an

e stimated

290

ppm

in

1860

to

340

ppm

in

1980 .

Approximately

25%

of

this

increase

occurred

during

the

19 70s .

Although

the

concentration

of

C02

in

the

atmosphere

is

relatively

small ,

it

is

important

 

in

determining

the

global

cl imate .

It

to

permits

vis ible

and

ultraviolet

radiation

from

the

sun

to

pene trate

the

earth ' s

surface ,

but

absorbs

s ome

of

the

infrared

energy

that

is

radiated back

into

space .

the

The

atmospheric

C02

emits

this

energy

to

both

the

troposphere

and

to

earth ' s

surface

( see

Fig .

1 ) ,

resulting

in

a

warming

of

the

 

surface

and

the

atmosphere

in

the

way

the

glas s

in

greenhouse

does

-

hence

the

term

greenhouse

effect .

 

The

best

known

and most

abundant

greenhouse

gas

is

carbon

dioxide .

However ,

some

trace

gase s ,

particularly

chlorofluorocarbons

(CFC's) ,

ozone ,

methane ,

and

N20

are

at

leas t

as

important

in

changing

the

radiation

energy

balance

of the earth - atmosphere

sys tem ,

as ,

collectively ,

they

might

cause

an

additional

warming

equal

to

50- 100%

of

the

warming

due

to

C02

alone .

 

It has been generally accepted that any modification in the radiation energy balance of the atmosphere wi ll affect the global c irculation patterns . As a

will

then

occur ,

which

will

be

greater

consequence regional climatic changes than the average global changes. The

most

promi s ing

approach

to

s tudy

the

effects of increas ing gas concentrations

on

the

atmosphere ,

is

to

describe

and predict the (future ) global

cl imate

by

complex

General

Cl imate

Models

(GCM ' s ) . The main factors and processes used to predict the earth ' s

temperature profiles and cl imatic changes are presented in this

section .

The

extent and rate of the changes, based on

scenarios

for

energy

consumption

and emis s ion of C02 and other trace gases ,

will

be

discus sed

in

section

3.

 

2.2.

Data

on

emis s ions

of

greenhouse

gases

 

2.2

.1.

Carbon

dioxide

 

Although

C02

is

emitted

to

the

atmosphere

as

a

consequence

of

s everal

processes ,

e . g.

oxidation

 

of

humic

subs tances

and

defores tation ,

the

main

caus e

 

of

increas ing

C02

concentrations

is

cons idered

to

be

fossil

fuel

burning .

Only

fos sil

fuel

burning

can be

fairly

accurately

quanti fied .

 

S ince

the

beginning

of

the

industrial

and

agricultural

revolutions

the

average annual

 

increase

in

C02

production

has

 

been

3.5 %,

with total

emiss ions

of

from 1 id-nineteenth

10

g

In

century

the

to

1981

be ing

carbon -

1860

annual

emis sion

160

was

GtC

(1

GtC-1

approximately

gigaton

0.093

GtC

and

in

1981

5.3

C ) . GtC .

Ris ing

fuel

prices

in

the

1970 ' s

s lackened

the

C02

production

to

yearly

increases

of

2.2 %

per

year

 

over

the

period

1973 - 1 980

( see

the

firs t

part

of

Fig .

2 ) .

The

C02

emit ted

into

the a tmosphere

is

 

very

quickly

globally

dis tributed.

This

is

mainly

due

to

the

fac t

that

the

emis s ions

 

are

more

or

less

evenly

distributed

over

 

the

continents .

Moreover ,

the

mixing

t ime

of

the

atmosphere

within a hemi sphere is only a few weeks and the

 

interchange

between

the

hemispheres

takes

6-1 2

months .

C02

has

a

res idence

t ime

in

the

atmosphere

of

3 - 4

years ,

so

is

reasonably

well

mixed

global ly .

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

-

11

-

Contrary to the near cons tancy of the fluxes in the biological cycle ,

one

of

the

most

important

reservoirs

 

there in

( the

land

biota ,

i.e.

the

l iving

organisms

on

land ,

of which

the

plants

represent

the

maj or

biomas s)

has

been

affected s ince man

s tarted

releas ing

carbon

dioxide

by

defores tation

and

expans ion

of

arable

land .

 

2 . 3.1

Atmosphere

-

ocean

interactions

 

The

reservoir

of

the

world's

oceans

represents

a

volume

of

about

1.4xl0 18

m

3

water

and

holds

about

40 , 000

GtC

( this

is

'bout

.

The

57

t imes

the

total

atmosperic

carbon

content )

or

on

average

8

g/m

content

varies

from

22

g/m

3

in cold surface water

to

26

g/m

in

warm

surface

water

and

to

29

g/m

in the

deep - ocean.

 

The

maj ority

i.e.

of

the

carbon

in

the

ocean

is

present

as

an

inorganic

fraction ,

3 9 , 000

GtC

as

dissolved

inorganic

carbon

( DIG

or

C ) .

The

DIG

is

present

as

di s solved

components

of

the

carbon

dioxide

equil ibrium

sys tem :

C02 ,

bicarbonate

and

carbonate .

 

The

remaining

carbon

is

present

as

an

organic

fraction,

of which

only

1.5 %

is

fixed

in

l iving

organi sms ,

and

the

rest

is

organic

material

present

as

di s solved

organic

carbon

(DOC ,

 

about

1000

dead GtC ) ,

and particulate

organic

carbon

(POC ,

about

30

GtC

( see

Fig .

6 ) .

The gross

exchange

of

C02

between

atmosphere

and

ocean

is

very

rap id,

characterised by a flux of about 100 GtC per year either way .

 

This

interaction

shows

the

s trong

regulation

of

the

atmospheric

C02

by

the

ocean .

The

natural

s

ituat ion

is

characterised

by

a

phys ico - chemical

e qui l ibrium .

The

principal

effect

of

adding

C02

to

the

atmosphere

is

the

tendency of the ocean to

take

up

the

excess

in

order

to

reach

a

new

e qui l ibrium with

the

atmosphere .

Although

the

carbon

content

of

the

ocean

is

much

greater

than

that

of

the

atmosphere ,

the

capac i ty

of

the

ocean

for

C02

uptake

is

l imited

( see

Appendix

1 ) .

The

absorption

of

C02

by

the

ocean

is

buffered by

reactions

with

dis solved

carbonate

and b icarbonate

i ons .

In

the

surface mixed layer , the "buffer factor " increases with growing C02

concentrations

( see

Fig .

7 ) ,

and

the

capac ity

of

the

ocean

to

absorb

the

C02

added

to

the

atmosphere

will

decrease .

Hence ,

the

fraction

of

added

C02

remaining in the atmosphere will rise .

 

The

capacity

of

the

ocean

for

C02

uptake

is

thus

a

function

of

i ts

chemis try ;

the

rate

at

which

this

capacity

can

be

brought

into

play

i s ,

however ,

a

function

of

ocean

phys ics .

The

s tratification

of

low-

and

mid- latitude

oceans

is

s table

and

capped

by

a

warm

surface

layer

that

is

approximately

in

e quil ibrium with

atmospheric

C02 .

Most

of

the

deep

waters

of

the

world 's

oceans

are

formed

in winter

in

the

Norwegian

and

Greenland

S eas

and

in

the

Weddell

Sea .

Here

winter

cool ing

increases

the

dens ity

of

the

surface

waters

until

the

s tratification

of

the

water

down

and

the

deep

s ource

regions

are

renewed .

Once

formed ,

the

column breaks bottom waters

flow

to

the

s outh.

The

res idence

t ime

of

deep

water

in

the

Atlantic

Ocean

has

been

estimated

as

275

years ,

in

the

Pac ific

Ocean

about

600

years

and

in

the

Indian

Ocean

about

335

years .

Thus ,

although

the

abs orptive

capab ility

of

the

ocean

is

large ,

it

is

not

rapid

due

to

its

s low

c irculation .

 

The cycle of organic carbon within the ocean is based on two main processes ,

i . e. production and decompos i tion of organic matter .

Fixation

of

C02

into

 

CONFIDENTIAL

-

14

-

The

net

flux

determined by

of

the

carbon

balance

between the atmosphere

and

any

ecosys tem

is

between gross production

and

respiration

of

all

l iving

organisms :

NEP -

GP

-

(R A +

�)

(6)

where NEP is

the

net

ecosystem production ,

the

net

flux

of carbon

into

or

from an ecosystem and

is

the

respiration of

the heterotrophs ,. including

all animals and decomposers . Thus , R

from the terres trial ecosystems to e

+ Ru represent the natural flux of C02

a £ mosphere . The primary evidence of

the importance

of

the

terres trial biota for

the

C02

content

of

the

atmosphere is

shown

by

the

short - term

oscillations

of

atmospheric

C02 ,

_

reflecting

the

s easonal

fluctuations

in

photosynthet ic

and

respiratory ·

act ivities

of

l iving

organisms .

 

The

NEP

tends

to

be

zero

in

a

s table

ecosys tem ,

but

is

permanently

pos itive

 

when human

dis turbance

is

present .

Es t imates

of

the

total

NPP

for

all

terres trial

ecosystems

vary

between

50 - 60

GtC

per

year ;

the

mean

total

plant

 

respiration

of

all

ecosystems

(R A )

is

about

equal

to

NPP;

so ,

about

50%

of

GP is needed by the plants for

respiration

(R A ).

The

heterotrophic

 

resp iration (Ru)

is

35 - 50

GtC

per

year .

These

fluxes

characterise

 

the

natural

and

we f l-balanced

exchange

rate

of

about

100

GtC

per

year

between

 

terrestrial

biota

and

atmosphere .

 

Human

interference

( cutting ,

burning ,

shifting

of

cult ivation

and

changing

 

of

ecosys tems )

has

not

only

large

effects

on

the

amount

of

carbon

s tored

in

the ecosys tems

( the

reservoir) ,

but

also

affects

the

fluxes .

There

has

been

 

a net release of carbon s ince at least 1860 . Until about 1960 , the annual

release

was

greater

than

the

release

of

carbon

from

fos s il

fuels .

The

total

net

release

from

terrestrial

ecosys tems

s ince

1860

is

estimated

to

have

been

180 GtC (with a range of estimates of 135 - 2 28 GtC ) . The estimated net

release of carbon

in

1980

was

1 . 8 - 4.7

GtC ,

from

1 95 8 - 1980

the

release

of

C

was

3 8 -76

GtC .

The

ranges

reflect

the

differences

among various

estimates

 

for

forest

b iomas s ,

soil

carbon ,

and

agricultural

clearing .

 

Effects

of

increas ing

atmospheric

 

carbon

on

terres tr ial

biota

can

be

expected