Climate Change & Global Warming

  • Last September’s widespread flooding in northeast Colorado, which saw just over 17 inches of rain in one week in the city of Boulder, was not made more likely or more intense by the influence of human-induced climate change on atmospheric moisture.

  • Natural variability can explain much of Earth's average temperature variation since the end of the last ice age, but over the past century, global average temperature has risen from near the coldest to the warmest levels in the past 11,300 years.

  • Earth’s hottest periods occurred before humans existed. Those ancient climates would have been like nothing our species has ever seen.

  • The annual average concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere stood at 395.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2013—a 27 percent increase compared to conditions before the Industrial Revolution. On May 9, 2013, the daily average concentration of CO2 surpassed 400 ppm for the first time at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

  • Globally-averaged surface temperature for 2013 was 0.36 - 0.38° Fahrenheit above the 1981–2010 average, placing it among the top 10 warmest years since record-keeping began. 

  • From the strongest typhoon ever observed to historically high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, the State of the Climate in 2013 report provides a complete rundown on the state of Earth's climate and how it is changing.

  • Jacqueline Kozak Thiel, Hawaii's State Sustainability Coordinator, talks about the state's unique sustainability challenges and how the island chain is planning for climate change.

  • Decision Maker's Toolbox Annual Greenhouse Gas Index

    Since 2004, researchers in NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division have released the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index: a single value that compares the total warming effect of each year's concentrations of heat-trapping gases to 1990 levels.

  • CarbonTracker is a tool for modelling sources and sinks of carbon dioxide. Users can download the code, carbon dioxide data, and the tool's carbon flux estimates to conduct their own analyses or to help improve the system.

  • Jeanine Jones, Interstate Resources Manager for the California Department of Water Resources, talks about the state's ongoing drought conditions and planning for California's water future.

     

  • In October 2003, a little-known think tank in the Department of Defense quietly released a report warning that climate change could happen so suddenly it could pose a major threat to our country's national security. Why was the Pentagon worried about abrupt climate change? Because new evidence from Greenland showed it had happened before. 

  • Persistent cold temperatures in the Midwest this winter almost completely frozen over many of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) reported that 88 percent of the Great Lakes were frozen as of mid-February.

  • January 2014 was remarkably mild across nearly all of Alaska, resulting in this January ranking among the  “top ten” warmest on record for many Alaskan communities according to preliminary analyses.

  • As climate changes in the Great Lakes region, the popular yellow perch–which some consider the ultimate pan-fried fish–may become much less common, potentially forcing consumers to adopt new traditions.

  • Concentration of carbon dioxide is about 1.4 times what it was before the Industrial Revolution. How much and how fast will Earth warm if carbon dioxide concentrations double the pre-industrial?

  • Among the questions triggered by the entrapment of a Russian ship near Antarctica on Christmas Eve were whether the ice conditions were out of the ordinary, and, if so, whether long-term climate change was playing a role.

  • Meteorologists have known for years that the pattern of the polar vortex determines how much cold air escapes from the Arctic and makes its way to the U.S. during the winter. Climate scientists are wondering if a warmer Arctic could explain its odd behavior in recent years.

  • Baseball field altered by CanVis

    The CanVis tool from NOAA’s Coastal Services Center creates images of potential coastal changes, letting planners and citizens put changes in perspective before they happen.

  • How do we know we can trust the historical surface temperature record? Did global warming stop in 1998? What actions can businesses or individuals take to reduce climate chagne from greenhouse gas emissions? Get asnwers to these and other frequently asked questions.

  • (Video) Thick, old ice used to dominate the winter ice pack in the Arctic. This animation of maps of sea ice age from 1987 through end of October 2013 shows how little old ice is left in the Arctic.

  • From reindeer to regional temperature patterns, from sea ice age to Greenland surface melt, the Arctic Report Card is a yearly assessment of the Arctic's physical and biological systems and how they are changing. This collection of visual highlights from the 2013 report is a story of the Arctic in pictures.

  • Since the mid-1960s, the Arctic has warmed about 3.6°F (2.0°C)—more than double the amount of warming in lower latitudes. In 2012 (the last complete calendar year available at the time scientists began working on the 2013 Arctic Report Card), the annual average temperature was the sixth warmest on record.

  • The most likely explanation for the lack of significant warming at the Earth’s surface in the past decade or so is that natural climate cycles caused shifts in ocean circulation patterns that moved some excess heat into the deep ocean.

  • Ron Stouffer and Gabriel Vecchi of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., share their experiences working on one of the most comprehensive scientific documents in history.

  • Since 2002, Octobers in Barrow, Alaska—America's northernmost town—are regularly near the warmest on record, thanks to the retreat of sea ice. The warming hinders traditional hunting activities, makes the town more vulnerable to storm surge flooding, and thaws the frozen ground to greater depths, which destabilizes roads, house foundations, and traditional underground freezers.

  • flooded houses on Breezy Point following Hurricane Sandy

    Understanding how extreme events in 2012 were influenced—or not—by human-caused climate change

  • (video) Chief Meteorologist Jim Gandy, at WLTX in Columbia, SC, earned his reputation as a leading TV meteorologist by giving his viewers what they want: sound science and interesting visuals in a delivery style that's crisp and easy to understand.  Recently, Gandy expanded his reports to include locally focused climate science information on topics that directly touch viewers' lives.  No controversy here, says Gandy, just good community service. 
     

  •  Since 1976, every year has been warmer than the long-term average, and 2012 continued the trend: the global surface temperature ranked among the top 10 warmest years on record.
     

  • Spring 2013 has brought something fairly unusual in recent years: colder-than-average temperature for the nation as a whole. NOAA's Deke Arndt talks about how spring temperatures in three U.S. climate divisions compare to the local long-term trend.

  • Much colder-than-average temperature during March and a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation Index reminded people in the United States how important this index is to our own climate conditions.

  • As the whole ocean gets warmer, NOAA scientists must redefine what they consider “average” temperature in the central tropical Pacific, where they keep watch for El Niño and La Niña.

  • Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch, National Climatic Data Center

  • It may seem remote from our everyday lives, but the Arctic exerts a powerful influence on the rest of the planet. From rising sea level, to U.S. and European weather, to bird migrations, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco describes how Arctic climate change can influence the rest of the planet.

  • NOAA released the 2012 installment of the annual Arctic Report Card on December 5, 2012, as part of the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting. This image collection is a gallery of highlights based on the report's major themes. It was developed by the NOAA Climate.gov team in cooperation with Arctic Report Card authors and other Arctic experts.

  • Shallow melt ponds on the surface of consolidated sea ice act as skylights that promote massive under-ice phytoplankton blooms. These under-ice blooms may boost estimates of Arctic phytoplankton productivity by a factor of 10.

  • The summer of 2012 brought Greenland far more extensive melt than anything observed in the satellite record: in July 2012, surface melt extended over nearly the entire ice sheet. The standardized melt index was nearly double the previous record.

  • We can’t immediately link Hurricane Sandy itself to climate change, says climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, but the flooding damage we can. Partly due to global warming, sea level has climbed about a foot in the NYC area over the past century, giving storm surges a “step up” along the coast.

  • Arctic sea ice extent set a new record low at the end of the summer melt season on September 16, 2012. But extent is not the only quality of the ice that is changing. Wind and ocean circulation patterns are conspiring with a warmer climate to reduce the amount of year-round (multi-year) ice, transforming the remaining ice into a younger, thinner version of its old self.

  • Imagine heat waves like the one last July coming more often & lasting longer: that’s the projection from climate models for the middle of this century based on one future emissions path.

  • A series of unusually strong, long-lasting high pressure systems has parked over Greenland this summer. As many a weather forecaster has explained, high pressure generally leads to calm winds and sunny skies, both of which boost temperatures during the all-day sunshine of mid-summer at high latitudes. The conditions contributed to widespread melting of the ice sheet.

  • In September 2011, Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest minimum extent in the satellite record.

  • Despite the double-dip La Nina that occurred throughout the year, 2011 was still among the 15 warmest years on record. Including the 2011 temperature, the rate of warming since 1971 is now between 0.14° and 0.17° Celsius per decade (0.25°-0.31° Fahrenheit), and 0.71-0.77° Celsius per century (1.28°-1.39° F) since 1901.

  • In 2011, Earth’s atmosphere was cooler and drier than it had been the previous year, but it was more humid than the long-term average.

  • In 2011, La Niña and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation cooled parts of the Pacific Ocean, but unusually warm temperatures predominated elsewhere.

  • In 2011, annual snow cover extent over Northern Hemisphere continents (including the Greenland ice sheet) averaged 24.7 million square kilometers, which is 0.3 million square kilometers less than the long-term average.

  • Data from 2010 indicate that mountain glaciers predominantly lost mass, and preliminary data from 2011 indicate a continuation of the same long-term trend.

  • Except for some La Niña-cooled regions of the tropical Pacific and a few other cool spots, the upper ocean held more heat than average in 2011 in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Southern Oceans.

  • In early 2011, stratospheric temperatures rose over the tropics due to La Nina while temperatures over the poles fell below the long-term average.

  • In 2011, global sea levels fell below the long-term trend of sea level rise, but as La Niña waned late in the year, global ocean levels began rising rapidly.

  • NOAA scientists have documented a new impact of the increasingly thin blanket of Arctic sea ice: gases escaping from the thinner ice in spring are affecting air chemistry, reducing ground-level ozone, and likely increasing mercury contamination.

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    It is virtually certain our world will continue to warm over this century and beyond. The exact amount of warming that will occur in the coming century depends largely on the energy choices that we make now and in the next few decades.
  • Although they are related, meteorology and climatology have important differences, particularly in how scientists develop and use weather and climate models. What makes climatologists think they can project climate scenarios decades into the future when meteorologists cannot accurately predict weather more than two weeks in advance? This presentation by Wayne Higgins of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center clarifies the relationships and differences between weather and climate, as well as the differences between natural climate variability and human-induced climate change.

  • James Roger Fleming presents a historical perspective on how our understanding of Earth's climate system developed through innovations and discoveries by pioneering scientists in the 1800s and 1900s who asked and answered fundamental questions about the causes and effects of global climate change.

     

  • Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch, presents the preponderance of scientific evidence that climate change is occurring and that humans are the primary cause.

  • Climate scientist Michael MacCracken explores some of the scientific, legal, and ethical implications of "geo-engineering" options that have been proposed by some people to address global climate change.

  • Climate scientist Anthony Janetos makes it clear that climate change isn't some future abstraction: real and substantial impacts on people's lives, the economy, the environment, and our valuable natural resources are already happening here in the United States.

     

  • Humans currently release about 70 million tons of carbon dioxide every day into the atmosphere and about 20 million tons is being absorbed regularly by the oceans, causing the pH to drop.  Chris Sabine describes current and projected future impacts of this acidification on marine ecology.

  • Claudia Mengelt and Robert Fri talk about strategies for adapting to and reducing global climate change.

  • Social scientist and communication expert Mathew Nisbet makes the case that endless debates about whether or not global warming is really happening have grown stale and miss the point entirely. Shouldn't we be talking about how society can leverage climate science in ways that save lives and natural resources and create new markets for jobs and services?

  • The Arctic of recent years—warmer, greener, less icy—is likely to be the new normal for the Far North. One sign of the ongoing transformation of the Arctic is the spread of shrubs across the tundra.

  • In the 2011 Arctic Report Card, scientists report that the bright white surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet has grown less reflective. The darker surface absorbs more sunlight, accelerating melting.

  • Satellite observations show that as the Arctic tundra has grown warmer in the past three decades, it has also grown “greener.”

  • Phytoplankton productivity has increased 20 percent over the past decade as sea ice extent declines and more open water habitat is available.

  • The low ice extent recorded this September continued the downward trend seen over the last 30 years. Meanwhile, scientists are finding that the ice cover has grown thinner, making it more vulnerable to melting during the summer.

  • Starting in July, when you hear that a day was hotter, or colder, or rainier than normal, that normal will be a little different from what it was in the past.

  • For decades, the City of Boulder, Colorado, has been successfully managing its water supply despite the challenges of being located in a semi-arid climate. But a local water manager wonders if climate change will change the rules of the game...

  • As of 2013, the warming effect of long-lived greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere has increased by approximately 34% since 1990.

  • The arrival of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 flooded the retirement home of a Chesapeake Bay couple. With sea level around the Chesapeake Bay rising faster than the global average, how are coastal residents planning for change?

  • The ocean is the largest solar energy collector on Earth. More than 90 percent of the warming that has happened on Earth over the past 50 years has occurred in the ocean. Not all of that heating is detectable at the surface because currents move some of the heat to deeper layers of water, where it can "hide" for years or decades.

  • Present since the last ice age, most of the world’s glaciers are now shrinking or disappearing altogether as the climate gets warmer. 

  • Records from the last five decades show that on average, spring snow is disappearing earlier in the year than it did in the past. 

  • Will climate change affect frequency or intensity of El Niño and La Niña? There is still little consensus among scientists on this, explains the International Research Institute for Climate and Society’s Lisa Goddard.
     

  • Mark Eakin, a coral reef specialist and Coordinator of NOAA’s Coral ReefWatch program, discusses coral bleaching in the Caribbean in 2010.

  • Facing the possibility of a massive coral bleaching event in the Caribbean Sea in late summer and early fall 2010, a USGS biologist based at U.S. Virgin Islands National Park hopes that the season won't have the same devastating outcome as a similar event in 2005.

  • Christopher Landsea, of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, works with tropical storm data and other hurricane experts to figure out how our warming world will affect hurricanes. Find out what current research tells us about hurricanes in the future.

  • This report presents a comprehensive appraisal of Earth’s climate in 2009, and establishes the last decade as the warmest on record. Reduced extent of Arctic sea ice, glacier volume, and snow cover reflect the effects of rising global temperature.
     

  • How is climate change affecting bird migration patterns? Birdwatchers across the country and around the world are contributing their time, both in the field and online, to answer that question.

  • Curiosity is a cruel master, says Dave Bertelsen. Over the past 25 years, he has hiked over 12,000 miles through a desert canyon, just to see what was blooming. He found a few surprises along the way.

  • Richard Feely discusses new findings about how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the oceans more acidic, and how that will affect ocean ecosystems and the marine animals that inhabit them.
     

  • Along coasts, people are waking up to the need for adaptation to climate change. This article points the way to information for getting started.

  • Has global warming stopped? That's what some people claim, based on global temperatures recorded since 1998. But, scientists say, not setting a new record high temperature each year doesn't mean the globe is cooling.

  • Climate scientists discuss what they know about global climate change today, and how they know it.

  • Climate scientists explain why they’re sure the primary cause of global climate change today is increasing human emission of greenhouse gases — mainly carbon dioxide.
     

  • Carbon dioxide is everywhere: in the air, rising from cracks in the ocean floor, and in your soda can. Now it's showing up in the news! Find out why carbon dioxide is such a hot topic, and why it's going to be around for a long, long time.

  • Richard Feely discusses new findings about how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the oceans more acidic, and how that will affect ocean ecosystems and the marine animals that inhabit them.
     

  • Richard Feely discusses new findings about how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the oceans more acidic, and how that will affect ocean ecosystems and the marine animals that inhabit them.
     

  •  The Sun is the main source of power for the Earth's climate machine. Space-based measurements, begun in 1978, indicate Earth receives an average of 1,361 W/m<sup>2</sup> of incoming sunlight, and the amount varies by about one-tenth of a percent over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. 

  • The total amount of water on Earth isn&rsquo;t increasing, but the volume of liquid that fills the ocean is growing as ice and snow on land melt. The water is also getting warmer, which makes it expand. 

  • Human activities, mainly burning fossil fuels, are increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, amplifying the natural greenhouse effect.

  • Temperatures measured on land and at sea for more than a century show that Earth's globally averaged surface temperature is experiencing a long-term warming trend.

  • Minimum sea ice extent observed by satellites each September has decreased by 13.7 percent per decade since the late 1970s. The seven lowest extents all occurred since 2007.

  • NOAA's Susan Solomon was awarded the 2009 Volvo Environment Prize for her pioneering contributions in atmospheric chemistry and physics.