Scientists around the world are seeking to learn more about how rising average temperatures around the world are affecting the weather. They say it is increasingly likely that climate change will increase the intensity, frequency or duration of weather events.
It results in higher temperatures in heat waves and adding a percentage of precipitation to severe storms. It may also cause weather events to occur outside of the times or locations where they normally occurred in the past.
But what causes climate change? Why are global temperatures rising? Is warm climate responsible for wild weather events? Here’s some basic information:
What does climate change mean?
The weather is what you see outside the window. Climate is what happens in an area over a period of years or decades. Climate change is the observed difference in long-term trends in air, water, and ocean temperatures and long-term weather patterns.
Monitoring stations around the world add to the growing body of information revealing how temperatures and precipitation are changing. Some have decades of measurements, while others have more than a century of data. In Japan, they recorded the onset of cherry blossoms more than 1,200 years ago.
Scientists use these historical records to study the rise in average global temperatures. For example, records show how early sap rises in maple trees or when wildfire seasons start earlier. They know that warmer temperatures delay ice formation in the Great Lakes region, when warmer water temperatures fuel more lake-impact snow.
Definitions:Is climate change the same as global warming?
Effects:How climate change is disrupting our daily lives and fueling disasters.
What is the most important cause of climate change?
The biggest impact on the planet’s changing climate is the release of emissions into the atmosphere from burning oil, gas and coal to move people and goods from one place to another and generate energy, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Here’s how it works:
- Carbon dioxide and other naturally occurring gases have always been around in the atmosphere, keeping the world warm just as a greenhouse keeps tropical plants alive in the winter. Scientists see the “greenhouse effect” in ice cores, sediments and tree rings.
- Recent measurements show that carbon dioxide emissions are on the rise. Since 1958, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has risen from 316 parts per million to 417 parts per million.
- Measured in such small quantities, the change may seem insignificant. However, because carbon dioxide has gone up by more than 30%, say NASA and others The changes have a significant impact on average global temperatures.
- National and international studies document how Excess carbon dioxide traps excess energy It causes the planet to warm faster.
If carbon dioxide doubles above the norm for pre-industrial levels, the draft of the latest National Climate Assessment said global temperatures could rise by 4.5 – 7.2 degrees, leading to deadly heat waves, crop failure and other cascading effects around the world.
What are the other causes of climate change?
- Manufacturing, mining and logging.
- The release of methane and nitrous oxide also contributes to global warming.
- The El Niño Southern Oscillation, a pattern of changing water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, can alter weather patterns.
- Volcanic eruptions can produce carbon dioxide emissions that warm the Earth, but also aerosol particles that have a cooling effect.
How do we stop climate change
So what can be done to prevent catastrophic consequences if emissions and temperatures continue to rise?
Scientists at the United Nations and governments around the world say fossil fuel emissions must be cut and soon to avoid “catastrophic consequences”. To keep the increase in average global temperatures at 2.7 degrees compared to those in the late 19th century, the world must reach “net zero” carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, according to the latest climate assessment.
The world cannot cut all emissions, so reaching a net-zero emissions outcome requires removing carbon dioxide from the air through both natural and mechanical means, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. This includes measures such as preserving and protecting forests and wetlands that store carbon and developing technologies that can effectively absorb carbon from the air.
Other approaches urged by the United Nations and others include living a less carbon-intensive lifestyle and increasing the use of renewable energy resources.
Even if the world reaches net zero emissions, the National Climate Assessment states that it will be impossible to prevent some of the warming already underway.
Dinah Voyles Pulver covers climate and environment issues for USA TODAY. She can be reached at email@example.com or @dinahvp on Twitter.