GLRPPR Sector Resource: Climate Change: Science and Impacts Factsheet
Climate Change: Science and Impacts Factsheet
Climate change is altering temperature, precipitation, and sea levels, and will adversely impact humans and natural systems, including water resources, human health, human settlements, ecosystems, and biodiversity. The unprecedented acceleration of climate change over the last 50 years and the increasing confidence in global climate models add to the compelling evidence that climate is being affected by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities.
Changes in climate should not be confused with changes in weather. Weather is observed at a particular location on a time scale of hours or days, and exhibits a high degree of variability, whereas climate is the long-term average of short-term weather patterns, such as the annual average temperature or rainfall at a given location. Under a stable climate, there is an energy balance between incoming solar radiation (short wave) and outgoing infrared radiation (long wave). Solar radiation passes through the atmosphere and most is absorbed by the Earth's surface. The surface then re-emits some energy as infrared radiation, a portion of which radiates into space. Increases in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reduce the efficiency with which the Earth's surface radiates energy to space, thus warming the planet.
Center for Sustainable Systems - University of Michigan
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