climate change

What is Climate Change?

CLIMATE CHANGE is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions, or in the distribution of weather around the average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as “global warming”.

Scientists actively work to understand past and future climate by using observations and theoretical models. A climate record — extending deep into the Earth’s past — has been assembled, and continues to be built up, based on geological evidence from borehole temperature profiles, cores removed from deep accumulations of ice, floral and faunal records, glacial and periglacial processes, stable-isotope and other analyses of sediment layers, and records of past sea levels. More recent data are provided by the instrumental record. General circulation models, based on the physical sciences, are often used in theoretical approaches to match past climate data, make future projections, and link causes and effects in climate change.

The most general definition of climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over long periods of time, regardless of cause. Accordingly, fluctuations over periods shorten than a few decades, such as El Niño, do not represent climate change.

The term sometimes is used to refer specifically to climate change caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of Earth’s natural processes. In this sense, especially in the context of environmental policy, the term climate change has become synonymous with anthropogenic global warming. Within scientific journal, global warming refers to surface temperature increases while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas levels will affect. (Wikipedia)

Terminology

The most general definition of climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over long periods of time, regardless of cause. Accordingly, fluctuations over periods shorten than a few decades, such as El Niño, do not represent climate change.

The term sometimes is used to refer specifically to climate change caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of Earth’s natural processes. In this sense, especially in the context of environmental policy, the term climate change has become synonymous with anthropogenic global warming. Within scientific journal, global warming refers to surface temperature increases while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas levels will affect. (Wikipedia)

Key Indicators
Carbon Dioxide Concentration
Carbon Dioxide Concentration

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, which is released through human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, as well as natural processes such as respiration and volcanic eruptions. The chart on the left shows the CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere during the last three glacial cycles, as reconstructed from ice cores. The chart on the right shows CO2 levels in recent years, corrected for average seasonal cycles.


 

Global Surface Temperature
Global Surface Temperature

This graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The year 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880. (Source: NASA/GISS) The gray error bars represent the uncertainty on measurements. This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.


 

This graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The year 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880. (Source: NASA/GISS) The gray error bars represent the uncertainty on measurements. This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.
Arctic Sea Ice

September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 11.5 percent per decade, relative to the 1979 to 2000 average. Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum each September. The graph above shows the average monthly Arctic sea ice extent in September since 1979, derived from satellite observations. The September 2012 extent was the lowest in the satellite record.


 

Land Ice
Land Ice

Data from NASA’s Grace satellites show that the land ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland are losing mass. The continent of Antarctica (left chart) has been losing more than 100 cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice per year since 2002.


 

Sea Level
Sea Level

Sea level rise is caused by two factors related to global warming: the added water coming from the melting of land ice, and the expansion of sea water as it warms up. The above graphs show how much sea level has changed since 1993 (right, satellite data record) and about 1880 (left, coastal tide gauge data).

 

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