HL Earth Science: Climate Change in Five Charts

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wikipedia

 

The year 2015 received the ominous warmest year on record title, and 2016 is likely to be even hotter. It's becoming clear that these warmer weather trends are not arbitrary, but confirmation that climate change is upon us.

As global temperatures rise, climate change is becoming a reality — rather than a problem looming on the horizon. WeatherDB, a weather data site by Graphiq, breaks down climate change into five charts illustrating three of the major players in the complicated climate change web: temperature, carbon dioxide and water. Whether or not you believe that climate change is caused by humans, the numbers tell a convincing story of a planet rapidly changing, and heating up.

Temperature

 

Of course, the climate change narrative begins with temperature. Since NOAA began recording data in 1880, the Earth's temperature has continuously risen. As the visualization above illustrates, every year since 1977 has been warmer than the 20th century average. Perhaps what is most alarming is that temperatures are steadily increasing by greater margins each year. 2016 is on course to be the first year ever in which the temperature anomaly surpasses 1 degree Celsius. If the trend continues in 2016, the Earth's temperature will be 1.08 degrees Celsius (1.9°F) hotter than the 20th century average.

Almost 2 degrees? That's barely noticeable at all, some may think. Can these small numbers really make a global impact? Science answers with a definitive yes.

If the yearly temperature anomaly surpasses 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), scientists fear that the planet will be threatened by flooding, massive habitat loss and extreme drought. The article "2 Degrees Will Change the World" published by the Huffington Post in December 2015 vividly describes the problems the planet could face should Earth's temperature continue to rise.

Carbon Dioxide

 

What is causing this spike in temperature? Carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring greenhouse gas which is also emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels, is the suspected culprit.

On one hand, carbon dioxide is essential to our planet. Without this simple pairing of carbon and oxygen, the planet would be at least 33 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than it is today. Carbon dioxide keeps the planet at comfortable temperatures by trapping radiated heat from the Earth's surface and re-radiating it back toward the surface.

However, it takes more and more energy to fuel the lives of the 7 billion people on this planet. We are emitting CO2 into the atmosphere whether we are eating, driving, working — or even standing still. CO2 levels in our atmosphere have steadily been on the rise since recording began in 1958, but scientists can go much further back in time by looking at the carbon dioxide concentration in Antarctic ice. The last 100 years have seen an unprecedented spike in CO2 levels, particularly since automobiles have become a staple in the developed world.

Carbon dioxide levels took center stage in Al Gore's 2006 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," in which he notes, "there is one relationship that is far more powerful than all the others, and that is this: when there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer because it traps more heat from the sun ... Ultimately, this is really not a political issue so much as a moral issue. If we allow [CO2 levels to increase without regulation] it is deeply unethical."

 

 

Water

There is another compound seriously affected by climate change — H2O. Water covers 70 percent of the Earth's surface and while droughts could restrict our supply of fresh water, melting ice is causing sea levels to rise.

In 2002, NASA began using satellite images to research Greenland's ice sheet, and in those past 14 years, 3,540 gigatonnes of the ice sheet has melted (the equivalent of nearly 10.7 million Empire State Buildings). Antarctica is losing an average of 118 gigatonnes of ice per year, while the Arctic ice sheet is shrinking by 13.4 percent annually. According to NASA, "the planet has been shedding sea ice at an average annual rate of 13,500 square miles (35,000 square kilometers) since 1979, the equivalent of losing an area of sea ice larger than the state of Maryland every year."

 

 

Of course, all this ice needs somewhere to go. It is melting — sometimes in massive sheets — into the ocean. Rising ocean levels could force the 1 billion people living in coastal areas from their homes and cities to be seriously damaged. Large cities including Miami, Los Angeles and New York could be underwater within the next century if sea levels continue to rise, according to Climate Central. If all the ice in both ice caps melted, projections show that most of Florida, London and Denmark would be totally immersed in water.

 

The data paints an eerie picture. It will be up to humans — the most crucial character in the climate change narrative — whether or not we want to reduce our carbon footprint or continue to turn the heat up on our ailing planet.

Research Weather Trends on Weather DB

Haute Tease

  • Bentley Designs Signature Suite at New York’s Iconic St. Regis Hotel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Bentley Motor and the St. Regis Hotel New York are delighted to announce the debut of a one-of-a-kind hotel suite at the iconic Manhattan landmark, the first hotel suite design collaboration for the luxury lifestyle provider.

     
  • Jubilate! 42nd Street Moon’s 25th Anniversary Gala

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon (Daren A.C. Carollo, Daniel Thomas, Co-Executive Directors), celebrating its 25th Anniversary in continuous operation, has announced the company's 2018 Gala, JUBILATE!, will be headlined by Moon favorite Klea Blackhurst and will feature special guest star Liz Callaway.

     
  • The Hurt, Set to Release “Sleeping,” Featuring Lyrics Co-Written by Rikki Turner and Stephen Evans

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Hurt, an electronica, post punk, sound with Rikki Turner of Paris Angels teaming with Stephen Evans of Cabbage, co-write lyrics that have been called a brooding masterpiece, is set to release Sleeping from Blindside Records in May.  

  • HL London: A Preview of Emerging Artists from The London Scene

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Fall 2015 showcases the abundance of talent on the London Scene with drop dates and gigs from ILana J and her cheery pop anthem, England, to the gritty sounds of Angeline, post punk rock Zurich, Rent & Debt Records Skellums, and  indie band The Train Set

     
  • Beltway Insider: Sandy Hook Shooting Dominates; Fiscal Cliff Standoff; John Kerry Nominated as Clinton Successor

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama heard the nation, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootings, and shifted the priorities of his second administration to place Gun Control at the top of his agenda.

     
  • Milan Fashion Week: IH NOM UH NIT SS19 Runway Debut

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Inspired by the 2016 science fiction movie "Midnight Special," designer Chaz Jordan unveiled a cohesive urban collection infused with a charming interstellar fashion with multiple garments distinctively free of gender identification. 

     
  • North Italia Santa Monica Review - Fabulous; Health Driven Farm to Table Fare Impresses

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Sometimes a restauranteur comes along who changes the game. Raises the bar. Ups the ante. That’s very much the case with Sam Fox, the creative visionary behind Fox Restaurant Concepts, which has taken hip and healthy to new heights.

     
  • Gifted Review – A Perfectly Balanced Film of Life, Love, Hurt and Hope

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Gifted, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, presents the story of balance, of finding the right place, of love, passion, hope, the cruelties of predestination, the mysteries of fate, the pursuit of betterment, and what to do when the worlds collide.