April 16, 2011

Today’s story is part of our ongoing EARTH WEEK coverage.

  One of the things people wonder about after the very harsh winter we had this year is how we can have global warming when it seems to be snowier and colder than ever.

 That’s because there is a difference between the daily weather vs. the climate where you live. You get your daily weather forecast on TV or on the Internet. It tells you the expected high and low temperatures of the day and whether it’s going to rain or snow. Weather is a combination of all these things and more.

So how is weather different from climate? Climate is what the weather is most often like over long periods of times. The Northeastern United States and the upper Midwest will be cold and probably snowy in the winter because that’s been the climate pattern for many years. Weather can tell you if you need to wear boots that day because of the snow prediction. Climate tells you when and where it’s best to take a swimming vacation on a beach. Climate tells you what clothes to keep in your closet because you might need them during the year, but weather tells you what clothes to wear that day.

Most scientists are convinced that there is global warming and that they have the facts to back that up. The year 2010 ranked as the warmest year on record, together with 2005 and 1998, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The WMO started keeping instrumental climate records in 1850, and eight of the hottest 10 years since then occurred in the year 2000 and beyond. Scientists expect a 3.5° F increase in average global temperatures by the year 2100, resulting in the warmest temperatures in the past million years. 




The last two decades of the twentieth century were the hottest decades in more than 400 years and may have been the hottest decades for several thousand years.

Records show that over the last century, Earth’s average climate had warmed in all seasons and in most regions. A single season or even a year in one region of the world is not a trend in global climate. Global warming refers to a long-term average over our entire planet.





The fact is that after 1961, many glaciers over the world have lost hundreds of cubic miles of ice. Most scientists believe that rising temperatures are the most important factor behind the retreat of glaciers. In Greenland, a NASA satellite shows that the ice sheet is shrinking and disappearing. Glaciers are moving into the ocean faster each year and more and more glaciers are being affected. In 1910, Glacier National Park in Montana was covered by 150 glaciers-today there are fewer than 30.


There’s no doubt about it, the earth is warming up.



Winter Wetlands Photo: Seymour Simon

Map Image courtesy geni.org

Upsala glacier photo: Gary Braasch


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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