What Is Global Warming ?
Global Warming is the increase of Earth's average surface temperature due to effect of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation, which trap heat that would otherwise escape from Earth. Earth's climate is mostly influenced by the first 6 miles or so of the atmosphere which contains most of the matter making up the atmosphere. This is really a very thin layer if you think about it. In the book The End of Nature, author Bill McKibbin tells of walking three miles to from his cabin in the Adirondack's to buy food. Afterwards, he realized that on this short journey he had traveled a distance equal to that of the layer of the atmosphere where almost all the action of our climate is contained. In fact, if you were to view Earth from space, the principle part of the atmosphere would only be about as thick as the skin on an onion! Realizing this makes it more plausible to suppose that human beings can change the climate. A look at the amount of greenhouse gases we are spewing into the atmosphere (see below), makes it even more plausible. One of the most vigorously debated topics on Earth is the issue of climate change, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) data centers are central to answering some of the most pressing global change questions that remain unresolved. The National Climatic Data Center contains the instrumental and pale climatic records that can precisely define the nature of climatic fluctuations at time scales of a century and longer. Among the diverse kinds of data platforms whose data contribute to NCDC's resources are: Ships, buoys, weather stations, weather balloons, satellites, radar and many climate proxy records such as tree rings and ice cores. The National Oceanographic Data Center contains the subsurface ocean data which reveal the ways that heat is distributed and redistributed over the planet. Knowing how these systems are changing and how they have changed in the past is crucial to understanding how they will change in the future. And, for climate information that extends from hundreds to thousands of years, pale climatology data, also available from the National Climatic Data Center, helps to provide longer term perspectives. Internationally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is the most senior and authoritative body providing scientific advice to global policy makers. The IPCC met in full session in 1990, 1995, 2001 and in 2007. They address issues such as the buildup of greenhouse gases, evidence, attribution, and prediction of climate change, impacts of climate change, and policy options. Listed below are a number of questions commonly addressed to climate scientists, and brief replies (based on IPCC reports and other research) in common, understandable language. This list will be periodically updated, as new scientific evidence comes to light. Global warming is the continuing rise in the average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans. The evidence for this temperature rise is unequivocal and, with greater than 90% certainty, scientists have determined that most of it is caused by human activities that increase concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as and burning of fossil fuels. This finding is recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized countries.
The instrumental temperature record shows that the average global surface temperature increased by 0.74 °C (1.33 °F) during the 20th century. Climate model projections are summarized in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They indicate that during the 21st century the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further 1.5 to 1.9 °C (2.7 to 3.4 °F)...
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