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.
2. AIR TEMPERATURES OVER OCEANS ARE INCREASING.
3. ARTIC SEA ICE IS DECREASING.
4. GLACIERS ARE MELTING.
5. SEA LEVELS ARE RISING.
6. HUMIDITY (EVERYONE’S FAVORITE) IS INCREASING
7. OCEAN HEAT CONTENT IS INCREASING.
8. SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE IS INCREASING.
9. SNOW IS DECREASING.
10. EARTH’S LOWER ATMOSPHERE TEMPERATURE IS INCREASING.
The lowest layer of the atmosphere, called the troposphere, is the layer we’re most familiar with – it’s where we live and where our weather occurs. Satellite measurements show that this lowest layer of the atmosphere is warming as greenhouse gases build up and trap heat that radiates from the Earth’s surface.
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. And unless we put a stop to this trend as soon as possible, these levels – and temperatures – likely will increase even more.
THE SIGNS ARE CLEAR. IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION.
It’s difficult to argue against what’s happening once you’ve seen these ten climate change indicators. That’s why it’s up to each and everyone one of us to do our part and help spread truthful information about climate change to our networks of friends, peers, and family.
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