HOW IS OUR CLIMATE CHANGING?
Record-breaking heat, prolonged drought, wildfires, extreme weather and flooding, sea level rise, even ocean dead zones... all of these trends were predicted by climate scientists decades ago, and they have now become a reality. We are living in what many experts now call the “Anthropocene” - a new geologic epoch in which human activity is the primary driver of changes on Planet Earth, including the greatest change of all - global warming. Here are some facts you need to know about our changing climate...
Fact #1: The world is getting hotter.
Global surface temperatures are on the rise. This is measured by “anomalies,” or difference between measured temperatures vs. the 20th century average for combined land and sea surface temperatures. 9 of the 10 hottest summers ever recorded have occurred since 2002. These temperature extremes are a result of just 0.85°C in global temperature rise. Most experts believe we have locked in at least 1.5 degrees in temperature from the carbon pollution we have already emitted, and we are fast approaching the dangerous climate threshold of 2°C in temperature rise.
Fact #2: The ice is melting.
The Arctic Sea has been decreasing dramatically in the past three decades. Between 1900 and 1980, the extent of Arctic ice measured in September held constant at approximately 8.5 million square kilometers. Since then it has dropped far faster than even the most extreme scientific projections, falling below 5 million kilometers. The same phenomenon is being documented for nearly all of 160,000 mountain glaciers, like Mt. Kilimanjaro, which has decreased 80% in the past century, and will likely disappear within the next decade.
Fact #3: The seas are rising.
Oceans have absorbed more than 93% of the increased heat from global warming. The heat content of the oceans has multiplied five-fold since 1980, causing “thermal expansion,” which accounts for roughly half of total sea level rise. The other half is due to melting glaciers and polar ice. This combination has already produced 19 centimeters of sea level rise since 1900, and it’s increasing quickly - 3 times faster in the past two decades than the century average. Current models predict between 8-48 centimeters (or 7-19 inches) of sea level rise by 2050 (relative to 2000 levels), and more than double that by the end of the century, placing coastal communities around the world at risk of extreme flooding.