How do we know our climate is changing permanently, rather than just going through a normal period of flux? Let’s look at 10 major changes scientists have seen in our climate system to help set the record straight.
Few global trends have been as controversial as climate change and the Earth’s warming. The Earth has gone through many shifts in cooling and warming driven by natural factors like the sun’s energy or variations in its orbit, but the trend scientists have seen over the past 50 years is unmistakable.
Let’s take a closer look: globally, average surface temperatures increased 1.1—1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6—0.9 degrees Celsius) between 1906 and 2005. However, it’s the rate of temperature change that’s especially troubling to scientists; temperatures have risen nearly twice as fast in the last 50 years alone.
What other ways has our climate system changed in the last century? How do we really know our climate is changing permanently, rather than just going through a normal period of flux? Between opinions from climate deniers and misinformation campaigns from the fossil fuel industry, it can be a challenge to get the unobstructed facts.
So to help set the record straight, we’re going to focus on 10 major changes scientists have seen in our climate system. Each indicator described below has been extensively studied over the past several decades, and was captured from many different data sets and technologies.
1. Air temperatures over land are increasing.
Oceans evaporate more water as the air right near the surface gets warmer. The result? More floods, more hurricanes, and more extreme precipitation events.
3. Arctic sea ice is decreasing.
Some research suggests that the Arctic could lose almost all of its summer ice cover by 2100, but others believe that it could melt completely much sooner than that – in just a few decades.
4. Glaciers are melting.
In a world unaffected by climate change, glacier mass stays balanced, meaning the ice that evaporates in the summer is fully replaced by snowfall in the winter. However, when more ice melts than is replaced, the glacier loses mass. And the people who depend on melting ice for water to support their farming and living needs are deeply affected.
5. Sea levels are rising.
Consider how many millions of people are at risk as sea levels rise, storms intensify, and more extreme flooding occurs. Additionally, marine life is threatened as salt water intrudes into fresh water aquifers, many of which support human communities and natural ecosystems.
7. Ocean heat content is increasing.
But it’s when short-term, natural climate patterns like El Niño occur at the same time as oceans are becoming warmer and warmer that we know that larger changes are happening. The increased heat content leads to higher sea levels, melting glaciers, and stress to marine ecosystems.
8. Sea surface temperature is increasing.
However, as the ocean’s surface temperature continues to increase over time, more and more heat is released into the atmosphere. This additional heat can lead to stronger and more frequent storms like tropical cyclones and hurricanes.
9. Snow is decreasing.
However, as the snow and ice melts, it’s replaced by dark land and ocean, both of which absorb energy. The amount of snow and ice loss in the last 30 years is higher than many scientists predicted, which means the Earth is absorbing more solar energy than had been projected.
10. Earth’s lower atmosphere temperature is increasing.
Scientists tell us that human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, caused this increase in atmospheric temperatures. In fact, carbon dioxide levels have increased about 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution began in 1750.
Read more @ Climate Reality Project