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CLIMATE CENTRAL REPORT:

Between 2003 and 2012, weather was the cause for 80% of power outages reported, with 15 million customers affected each year.

For a state-by-state analysis, click here.

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The IPCC released it's Working Group III report, focusing on climate change mitigation. [Our Coverage]


This Week in Climate News

Move Over Kimye, El Niño Bound 2 Take Over Headlines

March Was 4th Warmest on Record Globally

Wind, Solar Energy Driving Electricity Storage Technology


Tweetable Fact

The greenhouse effect in 30 seconds http://bit.ly/1gBgrst Great, simple animation from @ClimateCentral


From NASA

Stratospheric ozone intrusions, which happen most often in the spring and early summer months, can raise ground-level ozone concentrations which can potentially be unhealthy. NASA scientists are improving models which help us better understand these events, including the one shown in this visualization. More details here.


From NOAA

NOAA released the March 2014 Climate Overview. It was the 43rd coolest March on record for the U.S. as a whole, with the national temperature 1 degree below average.
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ATTENTION: WEBINAR    

Tuesday, April 22 (EARTH DAY) at 2:00 PM Eastern

Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist with NOAA at the National Severe Storms Laboratory will join us next week to discuss severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and climate change.

Look for an email Monday with the webinar login information. If you do not receive the login info, or have any questions, please contact Bernadette Woods Placky at bplacky@climatecentral.org.



Story Highlights

  • The greenhouse effect explained in 30 seconds.

  • The science behind the greenhouse effect has been understood for more than a century.

  • Greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation, which warms the atmosphere. When we add extra greenhouse gases, we increase the atmosphere's heat-trapping capacity.


Visuals

This week's visual is available as an animation and as a series of stills,
both with or without text. We have supplied suggested talking points
to accompany the no-text versions below.


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Click below for a high-res animated version
720p - 1080p

Click here for a
high-res still version

Click here for a
high-res still version

Click here for a
high-res still version

Talking Points

  • Greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane and water vapor trap heat.
  • Without greenhouse gases, the Earth's temperature would be 0°F, but with greenhouse gases, the Earth's temperature is around 60°F.
  • Extra greenhouse gases from human activity are driving temperatures up.
  • If emissions continue to grow at the current rate, rising temperatures are likely to lead to dangerous sea-level rise, drastic changes in weather and other serious effects.


------------ WITH TEXT ------------

Click below for a high-res animated version
720p - 1080p - YouTube

Click here for a
high-res still version

Click here for a
high-res still version

Click here for a
high-res still version

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The basic explanation for why CO2 and other greenhouse gases warm the planet is so simple and has been known science for more than a century. Our atmosphere is transparent to visible light — the rainbow of colors from red to violet that make up natural sunlight. When the sun shines, its light passes right through the atmosphere to warm the Earth.

The warm Earth then radiates some of its energy back upward in the form of infrared radiation — the “color” of light that lies just beyond red that our eyes can’t see (unless we’re wearing infrared-sensitive night-vision goggles). If all of that infrared radiation escaped back into space, the Earth would be frozen solid. However, naturally occurring greenhouse gas molecules, including not just CO2 but also methane and water vapor, intercept some of it — re-emitting the infrared radiation in all directions, including back to Earth. That keeps us warm.

When we add extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, though, we increase the atmosphere’s heat-trapping capacity. Less heat escapes to space, more returns to Earth, and the planet warms.

There’s really no scientific doubt about this process, which is known as the greenhouse effect. What scientists don’t know is exactly how strong the effect is. That’s because trapping heat is just the first step. As the planet warms, it changes. Ice on land and on the ocean melts back, letting the Earth absorb more heat than it did before. Oceans warm, but currents carry some of that warm water below the surface, where it’s temporarily hidden away. Oceans also stop absorbing CO2 as easily, so more stays in the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect. The atmosphere itself holds more water vapor when it warms, so concentrations of that greenhouse gas increase. But some of that vapor forms into clouds, which reflect sunlight before it can even hit the Earth.

All of these secondary effects (and more) are known as feedbacks, which can speed up global warming or slow it down. And since they’re not all understood with perfect certainty, scientists can only give a range of likely temperature changes for the next century, not a specific number. There’s wide agreement, though, that the temperature will continue to rise between 0.54°F and 8.64°F above the 1986-2005 average by the end of this century, depending on how our emissions grow (note however, the low number is only possible if we actively suck carbon out of the air). Scientists also agree that the consequences are likely to be severe.



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