A single bloom of Mountain avens in an alpine valley
January 23, 2014

Earth has warmed in the past due to changes in the Sun, volcanic eruptions, and naturally occurring increases in greenhouse gases. Our ability to understand and explain past changes is one reason we are confident that recent changes are due to humans. 

Boiled Lobster Plate
October 6, 2016

For New Englanders, the saying “as American as apple pie” may as well be “as New England as lobster.” But warming sea surface temperatures from climate change are forcing populations of the American lobster to higher latitudes than ever before—and upending fishing communities on the New England coast.

 

August 12, 2014

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

Like a prehistoric fly trapped in amber during dinosaurs' days, airborne relics of Earth's earlier climate can end up trapped in glacial ice for eons. How do climate scientists turn those tiny relics into a story about Earth's ancient climate?

March 7, 2014

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. 

Climate has varied in the past, but today's climate change rate is much more drastic due to human activity. Students explore past climate cycle graphs and compare the cycles with the current rate of change.

An applet about the Milankovitch cycle that relates temperature over the last 400,000 years to changes in the eccentricity, precession, and orbital tilt of Earth's orbit.

This figure shows the various astronomic cycles that influence long-term global climate cycles (Milankovitch cycles), plotted on the same time scale for easy comparison.

March 3, 2016

In this week's Beyond the Data blog, NCEI's Deke Arndt explains how comparing a record-setting warm streak from 2015 to one in 1944 is like comparing the tallest player in the NBA to the tallest kid in 2nd grade.

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