What is climate change?
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperature, precipitation, winds, and other measures of the Earth's climate. It is caused by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which trap heat from the sun and cause the Earth's surface temperature to rise. The main cause of this increase in greenhouse gases is human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Climate change can have a wide range of impacts, including rising sea levels, more frequent and severe natural disasters, and negative impacts on agriculture and biodiversity. These changes are already underway and are expected to continue, with potentially serious consequences for human societies and the natural world.
How do we measure the indicators of climate change?
Here are just a few of the ways we measure indicators and impacts of climate change:
- Temperature: One of the most obvious indicators of climate change is a rise in global temperatures. This can be measured using temperature sensors on land, at sea, and in the atmosphere.
- Sea level: As the Earth's temperature increases, polar ice caps and glaciers melt, causing sea levels to rise. This can be measured using satellite data and tide gauges.
- Extreme weather events: Climate change is expected to lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, and storms. The impacts of these events can be measured in terms of damage to infrastructure, loss of life, and economic costs.
- Changes in ecosystems: Climate change can also have impacts on ecosystems, such as changes in the distribution and behavior of plants and animals. These changes can be measured through monitoring programs and ecological modeling.
- Human health: Climate change can also affect human health, through impacts such as heat stress, the spread of diseases, and the disruption of food and water supplies. The impacts on human health can be measured using health statistics and surveys.