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Global warming -refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's

atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about 0.8 C (1.4 F) with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades.[2] Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and scientists are more than 90% certain most of it is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.[3][4][5][6] These findings are recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized countries.[7][A] Climate model projections are summarized in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They indicate that during the 21st century the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further 1.1 to 2.9 C (2 to 5.2 F) for their lowest emissions scenario and 2.4 to 6.4 C (4.3 to 11.5 F) for their highest.[8] The ranges of these estimates arise from the use of models with differing sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations.[9][10] An increase in global temperature will cause sea levels to rise and will change the amount and pattern of precipitation, and a probable expansion of subtropical deserts.[11] Warming is expected to be strongest in the Arctic and would be associated with continuing retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice. Other likely effects of the warming include more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events including heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall events, species extinctions due to shifting temperature regimes, and changes in crop yields. Warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe, with projections being more robust in some areas than others.[12] In a 4 C world, the limits for human adaptation are likely to be exceeded in many parts of the world, while the limits for adaptation for natural systems would largely be exceeded throughout the world. Hence, the ecosystem services upon which human livelihoods depend would not be preserved.[13] Most countries are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),[14] whose ultimate objective is to prevent "dangerous" anthropogenic (i.e., human-induced) climate change.[15] Parties to the UNFCCC have adopted a range of policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions[16]:10[17][18][19]:9 and to assist in adaptation to global warming.[16]:13[19]:10[20][21] Parties to the UNFCCC have agreed that deep cuts in emissions are required,[22] and that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 C (3.6 F) relative to the pre-industrial level.[22][B] Analyses by the United Nations Environment Programme (published in 2011)[23] and International Energy Agency (2011)[24] suggest that current efforts to reduce emissions may be inadequately stringent to meet the UNFCCC's 2 C target.

Initial causes of temperature changes (external forcings)

Greenhouse effect schematic showing energy flows between space, the atmosphere, and earth's surface. Energy exchanges are expressed in watts per square meter (W/m2).

This graph, known as the "Keeling Curve", shows the long-term increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from 19582008. Monthly CO2 measurements display seasonal oscillations in an upward trend; each year's maximum occurs during the Northern Hemisphere's late spring, and

declines during its growing season as plants remove some atmospheric CO2.
External forcing refers to processes external to the climate system (though not necessarily external to Earth) that influence climate. Climate responds to several types of external forcing, such as radiative forcing due to changes in atmospheric composition (mainly greenhouse gas concentrations), changes in solar luminosity, volcanic eruptions, and variations in Earth's orbit around the Sun.*[42]:0 Attribution of recent climate change focuses on the first three types of forcing. Orbital cycles vary slowly over tens of thousands of years and at present are in an overall cooling trend which would be expected to lead towards an ice age, but the 20th century instrumental temperature record shows a sudden rise in global temperatures.[43]


1 Observed temperature changes 2 Initial causes of temperature changes (external forcings)

2.1 Greenhouse gases 2.2 Particulates and soot

2.3 Solar variation

3 Feedback 4 Climate models 5 Expected effects

5.1 Natural systems 5.2 Ecological systems 5.3 Social systems 6.1 Mitigation 6.2 Adaptation 6.3 Geoengineering 7.1 Global warming controversy 7.2 Politics 7.3 Public opinion 7.4 Other views

6 Responses to global warming

7 Views on global warming

8 Etymology 9 See also 10 Notes 11 Citations 12 References 13 Further reading 14 External links 15 Related information

Greenhouse gases
Main articles: Greenhouse gas, Greenhouse effect, Radiative forcing, and Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere The greenhouse effect is the process by which absorption and emission of infrared radiation by gases in the atmosphere warm a planet's lower atmosphere and surface. It was proposed by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and was first investigated quantitatively by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.[44] Naturally occurring amounts of greenhouse gases have a mean warming effect of about 33 C (59 F).[45][C] The major greenhouse gases are water vapor, which causes about 3670% of the greenhouse effect; carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes 926%; methane (CH4), which causes 49%; and ozone

(O3), which causes 37%.[46][47][48] Clouds also affect the radiation balance through cloud forcings similar to greenhouse gases. Human activity since the Industrial Revolution has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to increased radiative forcing from CO2, methane, tropospheric ozone, CFCs and nitrous oxide. The concentrations of CO2 and methane have increased by 36% and 148% respectively since 1750.[49] These levels are much higher than at any time during the last 800,000 years, the period for which reliable data has been extracted from ice cores.[50][51][52][53] Less direct geological evidence indicates that CO2 values higher than this were last seen about 20 million years ago.[54] Fossil fuel burning has produced about three-quarters of the increase in CO2 from human activity over the past 20 years. The rest of this increase is caused mostly by changes in land-use, particularly deforestation.[55]

Per capita greenhouse gas emissions in 2005, including land-use change.

Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2005, including land-use change. Over the last three decades of the 20th century, gross domestic product per capita and population growth were the main drivers of increases in greenhouse gas emissions.[56] CO2 emissions are continuing to rise due to the burning of fossil fuels and land-use change.[57][58]:71 Emissions can be attributed to different regions. The two figures opposite show annual greenhouse gas emissions for the year 2005, including land-use change. Attribution of emissions due to land-use change is a controversial issue.[59]

Emissions scenarios, estimates of changes in future emission levels of greenhouse gases, have been projected that depend upon uncertain economic, sociological, technological, and natural developments.[61] In most scenarios, emissions continue to rise over the century, while in a few, emissions are reduced.[62][63] Fossil fuel reserves are abundant, and will not limit carbon emissions in the 21st century.[64] Emission scenarios, combined

with modelling of the carbon cycle, have been used to produce estimates of how atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases might change in the future. Using the six IPCC SRES "marker" scenarios, models suggest that by the year 2100, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 could range between 541 and 970 ppm.[65] This is an increase of 90250% above the concentration in the year 1750. The popular media and the public often confuse global warming with ozone depletion, i.e., the destruction of stratospheric ozone by chlorofluorocarbons. [66][67] Although there are a few areas of linkage, the relationship between the two is not strong. Reduced stratospheric ozone has had a slight cooling influence on surface temperatures, while increased tropospheric ozone has had a somewhat larger warming effect.[68]

Climate models
Main article: Global climate model

Calculations of global warming prepared in or before 2001 from a range of climate models under the SRES A2 emissions scenario, which assumes no action is taken to reduce emissions and regionally divided economic development.

The geographic distribution of surface warming during the 21st century calculated by the HadCM3 climate model if a business as usual scenario is assumed for economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. In this figure, the globally averaged warming corresponds to 3.0 C (5.4 F).

A climate model is a computerized representation of the five components of the climate system: Atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, land surface, and biosphere.[96] Such models are based on physical principles including fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and radiative transfer. There can be components which represent air movement, temperature, clouds, and other atmospheric properties; ocean temperature, salt content, and circulation; ice cover on land and sea; the transfer of heat and moisture from soil and vegetation to the atmosphere; chemical and biological processes; and others.[97] Although researchers attempt to include as many processes as possible, simplifications of the actual climate system are inevitable because of the constraints of available computer power and limitations in knowledge of the climate system. Results from models can also vary due to different greenhouse gas inputs and the model's climate sensitivity. For example, the uncertainty in IPCC's 2007 projections is caused by (1) the use of multiple models with differing sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations, (2) the use of differing estimates of humanities' future greenhouse gas emissions, (3) any additional emissions from climate feedbacks that were not included in the models IPCC used to prepare its report, i.e., greenhouse gas releases from permafrost.[91] The models do not assume the climate will warm due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases. Instead the models predict how greenhouse gases will interact with radiative transfer and other physical processes. One of the mathematical results of these complex equations is a prediction whether warming or cooling will occur.[98] Recent research has called special attention to the need to refine models with respect to the effect of clouds[99] and the carbon cycle.[100][101][102] Models are also used to help investigate the causes of recent climate change by comparing the observed changes to those that the models project from various natural and human-derived causes. Although these models do not unambiguously attribute the warming that occurred from approximately 1910 to 1945 to either natural variation or human effects, they do indicate that the warming since 1970 is dominated by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.*[42] The physical realism of models is tested by examining their ability to simulate current or past climates.[103] Current[as of?] climate models produce a good match to observations of global temperature changes over the last century, but do not simulate all aspects of climate.[104] Not all effects of global warming are accurately predicted by the climate models used by the IPCC. Observed Arctic shrinkage has been faster than that predicted.[105] Precipitation increased proportional to atmospheric humidity, and hence significantly faster than current global climate models predict.[106][107]

Expected effects

Main articles: Effects of global warming and Regional effects of global warming "Detection" is the process of demonstrating that climate has changed in some defined statistical sense, without providing a reason for that change. Detection does not imply attribution of the detected change to a particular cause. "Attribution" of causes of climate change is the process of establishing the most likely causes for the detected change with some defined level of confidence.[108] Detection and attribution may also be applied to observed changes in physical, ecological and social systems.[109]

Avoiding Global Warming

It may not be necessary to make large efforts to avoid global warming. First of all, it may not happen, and, secondly, it may not be harmful if it does. The warming observed to date, which may or may not be partly due to human activity, seems to have been beneficial in lengthening growing seasons in temperate and northern climates. Since serious efforts to reduce CO2 emissions or to increase CO2 sinks are likely to be extremely expensive, for the present it is best to wait. On this point it is necessary to be blunt. The strongest advocates of reducing CO2 think we use too much energy quite apart from questions of supply and possible side-effects. Therefore, they look for reasons to solve the global warming problem by reducing civilization. Not all think that way, but such ideas are providing a lot of the force behind the campaign, e.g. as proposed in former Vice-President Gore's book, Earth in Balance and his recent movie An inconvenient truth. The Kyoto agreement involves the developed countries undertaking to reduce their CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2010. (I think I remember it correctly.) The backward countries do not agree to do anything, and China and others will increase their emissions enormously. Fortunately, the US Senate has not ratified the agreement. Here's a somewhat revealing quotation from early in the "energy crisis". ``We can and should seize upon the energy crisis as a good excuse and great opportunity for making some very fundamental changes that we should be making anyhow for other reasons.'' - Russell Train, Science 184 p. 1050, 7 June 1974. Train was EPA Administrator at the time, and after that became head of the World Wildlife Fund.