Portal:Global warming

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Global warming

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Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and the oceans since the mid-twentieth century and its projected continuation. Global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 100 years ending in 2005. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that anthropogenic (human-sourced) greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the twentieth century, and natural phenomena such as solar variation and volcanoes probably had a small warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a small cooling effect from 1950 onward. These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 40 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries.

Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that global surface temperature will probably rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the twenty-first century. The uncertainty in this estimate arises from the use of models with differing climate sensitivity, and the use of differing estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions. Some other uncertainties include how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe. Although most studies focus on the period up to 2100, warming is expected to continue beyond 2100, even if emissions have stopped, because of the large heat capacity of the oceans and the lifespan of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Pictured left: 1999-2008 Mean temperatures: This figure shows the difference in instrumentally determined surface temperatures between the period January 1999 through December 2008 and "normal" temperatures at the same locations, defined to be the average over the interval January 1940 to December 1980. The average increase on this graph is 0.48 °C, and the widespread temperature increases are considered to be an aspect of global warming. Source: NASA

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Warming Island USGS Landsat.jpg
Credit: USGS Landsat Project: Warming Island – comparison of satellite pictures between 1985 and 2005.

Warming Island, Greenland: On January 16th, 2007, the New York Times reported that a new island had been found in Greenland. Warming Island was once thought to be an ice-covered peninsula, but it was exposed as an island when a glacier melted to reveal the strait. This image shows satellite pictures of the island in 1985 when the glacier had firmly tied it to the mainland, in 2002 when there was only a thin bridge of ice, and in 2005 when the bridge of ice has broken to reveal an open water strait. More islands like this may be discovered if the Greenland ice sheet continues to disappear.

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Natural disasters caused by climate change.png
Pictured left: A schematic showing the regions where natural disasters are predicted to occur due to climate change. Source: UNEP/GRID-Arendal

Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average (e.g., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change may be limited to a specific region or may occur across the whole Earth.

The term sometimes is used to refer specifically to climate change caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of Earth's natural processes. In this latter sense, used especially in the context of environmental policy, the term climate change today is synonymous with anthropogenic global warming. Within scientific journals, however, global warming refers to surface temperature increases, while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas amounts will affect.

Climate changes in response to changes in the global energy balance. On the broadest scale, the rate at which energy is received from the sun and the rate at which it is lost to space determine the equilibrium temperature and climate of Earth. This energy is then distributed around the globe by winds, ocean currents, and other mechanisms to affect the climates of different regions.

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Al gore presentation.jpg
Pictured left: Al Gore's speech on Global Warming at the University of Miami BankUnited Center, February 28, 2007.

Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. (born March 31, 1948) served as the 45th Vice President of the United States (1993–2001), under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Gore is currently an author and environmental activist. He has founded a number of non-profit organizations, including the Alliance for Climate Protection, and has received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in climate change activism.

In his senior year at Harvard University, he took a class with oceanographer and global warming theorist Roger Revelle, who sparked Gore's interest in global warming and other environmental issues. After joining the U.S. House of Representatives, Gore held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsor[ed] hearings on toxic waste and global warming. Gore was known as one of the Atari Democrats, later called the "Democrats' Greens: politicians who see issues like clean air, clean water and global warming as the key to future victories for their party.

Gore wrote the book An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, which won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2009. An Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim about Al Gore's campaign to educate citizens about global warming via a comprehensive slide show that, by his own estimate, Gore has given more than a thousand times. Our Choice is a 2009 book written by Gore, originally titled, which followed the An Inconvenient Truth... (book). All profits of the book (printed on 100% recycled paper) go to the Alliance for Climate Protection, which Gore founded in 2006.

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Global Vegetation.jpg
Credit: NASA image of the day gallery

Global vegetation – Food, fuel and shelter. Vegetation is one of the most important requirements for human populations around the world. Satellites monitor how "green" different parts of the planet are and how that greenness changes over time. These observations help scientists understand the influence of natural cycles, such as drought and pest outbreaks, on vegetation, as well as human influences, such as land-clearing and global warming.

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CasquetePolarSur.jpg
...that Mars' south polar ice cap may be melting due to global warming?

(Pictured left: Photo of Mars' south polar ice taken by Mars Global Surveyor.)

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