Climate Change

Posted by on gen 8, 2014 in Sustainability Mission | 0 comments

Climate Change

Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations will have many effects

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to increase unless the billions of tons of our annual emissions decrease substantially. Increased concentrations are expected to:

 

 

  • Increase Earth’s average temperature
  • Influence the patterns and amounts of precipitation
  • Reduce ice and snow cover, as well as permafrost
  • Raise sea level
  • Increase the acidity of the oceans

These changes will impact our food supply, water resources, infrastructure, ecosystems, and even our own health.

Future changes will depend on many factors

The magnitude and rate of future climate change will primarily depend on the following factors:

  • The rate at which levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere continue to increase
  • How strongly features of the climate (e.g., temperature, precipitation, and sea level) respond to the expected increase in greenhouse gas concentrations
  • Natural influences on climate (e.g., from volcanic activity and changes in the sun’s intensity) and natural processes within the climate system (e.g., changes in ocean circulation patterns)

Scientists use computer models of the climate system to better understand these issues and project future climate changes.

Past and present-day greenhouse gas emissions will affect climate far into the future

Many greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time. As a result, even if emissions stopped increasing, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations would continue to increase and remain elevated for hundreds of years. Moreover, if we stabilized concentrations and the composition of today’s atmosphere remained steady (which would require a dramatic reduction in current greenhouse gas emissions), surface air temperatures would continue to warm. This is because the oceans, which store heat, take many decades to fully respond to higher greenhouse gas concentrations. The ocean’s response to higher greenhouse gas concentrations and higher temperatures will continue to impact climate over the next several decades to hundreds of years.

To learn more about greenhouse gases, please visit the Greenhouse Gas Emissions page and the Greenhouse Effect section of the Causes of Climate Change page.

Because it is difficult to project far-off future emissions and other human factors that influence climate, scientists use a range of scenarios using various assumptions about future economic, social, technological, and environmental conditions.

[View the complete article here]

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