Climate Change

Climate change refers to long-term variations in the Earth’s climate system. This includes changes in temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and other weather conditions.

It is a natural process that has occurred throughout the Earth’s history. However, in recent times, human activities have significantly contributed to its acceleration.

The changes caused by climate change have far-reaching impacts on ecosystems, weather phenomena, sea levels and various aspects of human life.

Climate Change Indicators: Quaternary Period to the Present Day

The Quaternary period is the most recent 2.6 million years of Earth’s history. It provides numerous indicators of climate change.

These signs include the early onset of spring, shrinking glaciers to increased global temperatures evident from ice cores and thermometer readings.

A seasonal shift

In recent years, there have been noticeable signs of a seasonal shift, with spring arriving earlier and winters tending to be less severe. These changes in the timing and severity of seasons impact the nesting and migration patterns of wildlife.

Melting and Retreating Glaciers

Photographic evidence over the past 50 to 100 years has shown that glaciers worldwide have been melting and retreating. The increased global temperatures are causing these glaciers to disappear at an alarming rate.

The melting of glaciers also contributes to the rising sea levels and increased melting of sea ice in the Arctic. This worsens the impacts of climate change.

Ice Cores

Ice cores are samples of ancient ice obtained from glaciers and ice sheets. These cores provide valuable information about past climates, as they contain trapped air bubbles that reveal the atmospheric gas concentrations when the ice formed.

By studying ice cores, scientists have determined that the Earth’s temperature has rapidly changed over the past few decades. They have observed a substantial increase in temperatures, indicating the influence of human-induced climate change.

Rising Sea Levels

Between 1900 and 2019, average global sea levels rose by approximately 0.21 metres. This increase is mainly caused by the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, along with the expansion of seawater due to higher temperatures.

Rising sea levels pose a significant threat to coastal areas. They lead to increased flooding, erosion and the loss of valuable habitats.

Thermometer Readings

Temperature recordings have consistently shown an increase in Earth’s average surface air temperature. It has risen by approximately 1° C since 1900. The decade between 2010 and 2020 was the warmest recorded, with 2016 and 2020 being the hottest years yet.

The trajectory of future warming depends on both natural climate variability and the level of greenhouse gas emissions. If these emissions continue to rise, global temperatures are expected to continue their upward trend.