Climate Change: How Do We Know?

Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years, there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization.

‘Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. If you want to learn more about climate change facts refer to

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The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling:

  • Global Temperature Rise

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities

  • Warming Ocean

The ocean has absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 100 meters (about 328 feet) of ocean showing warming of more than 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.33 degrees Celsius) since 1969. Earth stores 90% of the extra energy in the ocean.

  • Shrinking Ice Sheets

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2019, while Antarctica lost about 148 billion tons of ice per year.

Recognition of global climate change as an environmental issue has drawn attention to the climatic impact of human activities. The extent to which this evidence contributes to recent and ongoing climate change is an important, emerging area of study.