What is Climate Change?

What is Climate Change?

Climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period other effects, which occur over several decades or longer. Climate describes the total of all weather occurring over a long period of years in a given place. This includes average weather conditions, regular weather seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall), and special weather events (like tornadoes and floods).

What is Global Warming?
Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth’s surface. It is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is causing climate patterns to change. However, global warming itself represents only one aspect of climate change. The magnitude of temperature increases over the second half of this century, both in the U.S. and globally, will be primarily determined by the emissions of greenhouse gases produced now and over the next few decades.

What does Climate Change mean to Cape Cod?
Cape Cod, the landform, is the product of climatic warming – its sediments were released by retreating glacial ice sheets less than 20,000 years ago as global temperatures rose following the most recent “ice age”.  Human-induced changes in global climate will accelerate sea level rise to rates that Cape Cod has not experienced for thousands of years, and we do not know how the systems that exist today will respond. Other climate-related changes as well – temperature, precipitation, storm frequency and intensity for example – will have as yet undetermined impacts on the Cape’s ecosystems and as a result, on human health and welfare.  (Dr. Graham Giese, Center for Coastal Studies)

There is a very high confidence (>90% chance) that sea level will rise between 8 inches and 6.6 feet by 2100. This is higher and will be faster than the past 2000 years.  (Dr. Rob Thieler US Geological Survey) “Global sea levels have risen 8 inches since 1900.  The one foot rise in sea level in the Northeastern U.S. has exceeded the global average, and will continue to do so.” (National Climate Assessment for 2014)