n decadal time-scales. Such oscillations have been linked to colder than normal temperatures in the region."
CLIMATE CHANGE INDICES
"Most readers will by now agree that it is difficult to draw a simple picture that summarizes the many parameters and multidimensional aspects of observed climate change and variability, no matter how complete the record. One approach toward simplification might be to consider only long-term measurements of a few near-surface conditions: temperature and precipitation, for example, are two primary elements of climate that affect many aspects of our lives. But neither tells the whole story.
"Several indicators stand out most conspicuously in the picture of surface climate variations and changes in the U.S. over the past century. These include the rather steady increase in precipitation derived from extreme 1-day precipitation events; the systematic decrease in the day-to-day variations of temperature; and the increased frequency of days with precipitation. Trends in other indicators of climate change are now neither sufficiently large nor persistent enough to be considered as strongly suggestive of systematic change, even though it remains a likely explanation. These include the increase of total precipitation and the related increase in cloud amount, as well as an overall increase in mean temperature. The area of the country that has experienced an increase in mean temperature has risen while the proportion of the country with much below normal mean minimum temperatures has decreased. Many of these indicators appear to have undergone significant change during the late 1970s and have more or less remained at these levels to the present. In contrast, other surface climate change indicators (such as the frequency of tropical cyclones) reflect the kind of climatic variability that is completely consistent with the premise of a stable or unchanging climate.
The increase in temperature across the U.S. in this century is slightly smaller, but of comparable magnitude to the increase of temperature that has characterized the world as a whole. The increase in minimum temperature and the related increase in area affected by much above normal minimum temperatures are also found in many other countries of the northern hemisphere. Worldwide precipitation over land has changed little through the twentieth century; increases noted in high latitudes have been balanced by low-latitude decreases. By comparison, the change in precipitation in the U.S. is still relatively moderate compared to some of the increases and decreases at other latitudes. Decreases in the day-to-day differences of temperature observed in the U.S. are also apparent in China and Russia, the only other large countries analyzed as of this date. The persistent increase in the proportion of precipitation derived from extremely heavy precipitation has not been detected in these other countries.
Introduction in Global warming
“Global warming” has been introduced by the scientific community and the media as the term that encompasses all potential changes in climate that result from higher average global temperatures. Hundreds of scientists from many different countries are working to understand global warming and have come to a consensus on several important aspects. In general, Global warming will produce far more profound climatic changes than simply a rise in global temperature.
A recent study by an international panel of scientists suggested that if trends in current emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols continue, the globe may warm by an average of 2C by the year 2100. The average rate of warming would probably be greater than any seen in the last 10,000 years
An analysis of temperature records shows that the Earth has warmed an average of 0.5C over the past 100 years. This is consistent with predictions of global warming due to an enhanced greenhouse effect and increased aerosols. Yet, it could also be within acceptable limits for natural temperature variation. The twelve warmest years of the twentieth century have occurred since 1980. The Earths warmest years since 1861 have been: 1981, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. 1997 and 1998 were the two warmest years recorded during that period. This lends support to the assumption that the Earths climate is warming. However, it may take another decade of continued increases in global temperatures to provide conclusive evidence that the worlds climate is warming as a result of the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Global surface air temperature in 1997 was warmer than any previous year this century, marginally exceeding the temperature of 1995. Part of the current global warmth is associated with the tropical El NiЯo, without which a record global temperature would probably not have occurred.
Global surface temperatures in 1998 set a new record for the period of instrumental measurements, report NASA/GISS researchers who analyzed data collected from several thousand meteorological stations around the world. The global temperature exceeded that of the previous record year, by such a wide margin that the 1998 calendar year is certain to also set a new record. The United States experienced in 1998 its warmest year in the past several decades. As for the Russia, global surface air temperatures in 1997-98 were not warmer than previous years.
Until recently, researchers were uncertain whether Climate developments reflected natural variations in the Earth, or whether in fact human activities contributed to the warming. The latest observed data reveals some striking trends:
- All 10 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years.
- The 1990s have already been warmer than the 1980s - the warmest decade on record - by almost 0.2F (0.1C), according to the Goddard Institute of Space Studies.
- The global average surface temperature has risen 0.5-1.1F (0.3-0.6C) since reliable records began in the second half of the 19th century.
In 1995, scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the authoritative international body charged with studying this issue-reached a conclusion in the Second Assessment Report, which summarizes the current state of scientific knowledge on global warming, also called climate change.
For the first time ever, the Panel concluded that the observed increase in global average temperature over the last century "is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin" and that "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate."
The Earths climate is the result of extremely complex interactions among the atmosphere, the oceans, the land masses, and living organisms, which are all warmed daily by the suns energy. This heat would radiate back into space if not for the atmosphere, which relies on a delicate balance of heat-trapping gases - including water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane - to act as a natural "greenhouse," keeping in just the right amount of the suns energy to support life.
For the past 150 years, though, the atmospheric concentrations of these gases, particularly carbon dioxide, have been rising. As a result, more heat is being trapped than previously, which in turn is causing the global temperature to rise. Climate scientists have linked the increased levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere to human activities, in particular the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas for heating and electricity; gasoline for transportation), deforestation, cattle ranching, and rice farming.
But Global Warming has received much press in the past decade. There are many questions like these ones. Could the earths climate really heat up? What are the causes if such a warming occurs? Is global warming a theory and thrue or false theory at that?
These questions and more are what climate scientists are asking themselves daily. So, there are two sides to every story and both are discussed in the media.
As the Earths climate is the result of extremely complex interactions, scientists still cannot predict the exact impact on the earths climate of these rising levels of heat-trapping gases over the next century. But there is striking agreement among most climate scientists about what is likely to occur. Poureful climate models suggest that the planet will warm over the next century at a more rapid rate than ever before recorded. The current best estimate is that if carbon dioxide concentrations double over preindustrial levels, global average surface temperatures will rise between 1.8 and 6.3F (between 1 and 3.5C). According to the scientific possible scenarios, an atmospheric doubling of carbon dioxide could occur as early as 2050. Future impacts from this kind of warming will most likely include: - damage to human health
- severe stress on forests, wetlands, and other natural habitats
- dislocation of agriculture and commerce
- expansion of the earths deserts
- melting of polar ice caps and consequent rise in the sea level
- more extreme weather events
The Future and Global Warming Policy
During the 1980-90s, evidence mounted that increased atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases