Climate Change: The Basics

It is nothing if not fitting that I’m starting my basic research on global climate change while trapped in my house by the aftermath of winter storm Jonas. So far, the most important thing I’ve learned is this: climate change is happening. Of course, there are several other basic matters to address, such as definitions and other basic processes. Firstly, what causes climate change? According to the Royal Society’s article “Climate Change: A Summary of the Science,” climate change can be caused by:

  1. Changes in the energy Earth receives from the Sun
  2. Changes in greenhouse gases and clouds
  3. Changes in the reflectivity of Earth’s surface

But what EXACTLY is climate change? Well, it’s essentially the environment trying to correct the imbalance between the amount of energy the Earth receives from the Sun and the amount of infrared energy emitted by Earth. This imbalance is called “climate forcing.” Another important term I discovered in my readings is climate sensitivity, which is “the amount of climate change caused by a given amount of climate forcing,” (essentially just how much has to happen before the climate system responds), this sensitivity can vary from place to place.

I also encountered the term “internal climate variability,” which refers to the amount of variation occurs within a climate system solely because of the factors in that system and NOT climate forcing.

Possible results of climate change which I found were:

  1. Increases in Earth’s surface temperature
  2. Increases in the temperature of the ocean
  3. Increases in sea levels
  4. Decrease in size of mountain glaciers

So far, I’ve only skimmed the surface of what climate change research has to offer, courtesy of http://whatweknow.aaas.org/get-the-facts/  and https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2010/4294972962.pdf. I hope you enjoy whatever weather phenomena that climate change may be bringing you; as for me, I’ll be inside avoiding frostbite!

 

 

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