Climate Research

This study takes a look at how controlling greenhouse gases can affect global temperature, finding that the Montreal Protocol's reduction in ozone depleting CFC's may have contributed to the recent warming slow down.

The Study | Our Coverage


This Week in Climate News

Inland States Most Likely to Ignore Climate Hazards: Study

Typhoon Haiyan's Deadly Surge Noted in Warsaw Talks

Super Typhoon Haiyan: A Hint of What's to Come?

NOAA's New Tool Puts Climate on View for All


From NASA

Visuals of climate change projections for the U.S. will be available on the Cloud through an agreement with Amazon Web Services - including NASA Earth Exchange satellite and global change data sets (temperature, precipitation, forest cover).


From NOAA

The U.S. October numbers are in. The contiguous U.S. was 0.6 degrees below average, while Alaska had it's hottest October ever at 8.8 degrees above average.

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The global numbers are also in. So far, 2013 is tied for the 7th warmest year on record globally and on track to be one of the top ten warmest since records began in 1850.


Tweetable Fact

The globe's average temperature has risen 1.6° since 1900. Take a look at how it relates to CO2: http://bit.ly/1aTvm2Y



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Story Highlights

  • The average global temperature can fluctuate from year to year, but there is a distinct upward trend: a rise of 1.6°F since 1900.

  • While forms of natural variability such as El Niño account for year-to-year variability, they can't fully explain the overall warming trend.

  • This animation shows you how the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has a strong correlation with rising temperatures.

  • Using various methods, scientists have identified that it's more than just a correlation. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the key driver behind global warming.

  • This week we include a special section for Virginia Meteorologists, see below.


This week's graphic is an animation and available in two different sizes: 720 | 1080

It is also available as a still:
WITH a title - WITHOUT a title

The average global temperature fluctuates every year. However, when you look at a snapshot of the global temperature trend, it's on the rise - particularly since 1970. The main cause? Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

There are plenty of factors that influence temperatures in different regions across the globe. El Niño is one of the biggest drivers of year-to-year variability, increasing the likelihood of warm weather in the Pacific Northwest and cooler weather in the Southeast as well as a host of other global impacts. Longer-term fluctuations such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and aerosols from natural and human sources can further affect regional climate. Solar cycles also have global temperature implications, although on a much smaller scale.

These shifts taken individually and together account for the year-to-year variability seen in the global average temperatures. They can’t fully explain why the globe has warmed about 1.6°F since 1880, though.

Overlaying the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere shows a clear correlation with that rise in temperatures. Of course correlation doesn’t always equal causation.

However, reams of peer-reviewed research, basic physics, the ability to track the specific chemical fingerprint of fossil fuel-driven carbon, and the fact that no models can replicate this century's warming without pumping up carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere give scientists confidence that human carbon emissions are driving the globe’s temperature higher. Other indicators such as ocean acidification, increasing deep ocean heat, melting ice and permafrost, shrinking snow pack, and sea level rise further make the case that the additional carbon dioxide is affecting the global climate system.

There are periods when other factors might temporarily slow that rise such as the much-discussed global warming “pause” of the last decade, but the overall connection is clear. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the globe’s average temperature is projected to follow suit. The worst-case emissions scenario, the track that we are currently on, estimates a rise in temperature of 4.7° to 8.6°F by 2100. International negotiators are at a meeting in Warsaw that continues through November 22 in an effort to lay the groundwork for a global climate treaty that aims to limit the temperature from rising more than 3.6°F above pre-industrial levels.


Attention Virginia Meteorologists

Temperatures across the Southeast are expected to increase by as much as 10°F for interior states of the region with a regional average range of 2°F to 6°F. Projections of future precipitation patterns are less certain than projections for temperature increases. Average changes in annual precipitation under a higher emissions scenario (the one we are currently on) range from a nearly 10% reduction in the far southern and western portions of the region – with most of that reduction in the summer – to about 5% increases in the northeastern part of the region. (Kunkel et al. 2012)

For more climate change information specific to the Southeast, including a look at the projected rise in 95° days and sea level rise, here is a link to the National Climate Assessment's Southeast chapter (still in draft form with official release coming this March): http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/download/NCAJan11-2013-publicreviewdraft-chap17-southeast.pdf

Climate change could also impact health in Virginia. Here is a link from the National Resources Defense Council that breaks down the risks into different categories:
http://www.nrdc.org/health/climate/va.asp

A new book covering Southeast climate has just been released. Climate of the Southeast United States: Variability, Change, Impacts and Vulnerability. Here is USA Today's story covering some of its highlights:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/11/12/southeast-climate-change-report/3509139/




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