• The right hand side of the picture is a lush green tree on a green field of grass, in contrast to the left side of the picture which shows a desert with a bare tree

    The Science of Climate Change

    Climate change is a global, long term rise in the earth’s temperature which is causing the weather to change. Scientists are highly confident that humans are making the planet warm up faster than usual. This is called global warming. Find out what is causing climate change, how it is affecting the world, and what you can do to help.

Climate Change in Action

World Map
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Drought

Zimbabwe, December 2019- Victoria Falls, the world's largest waterfall dries up.

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Wildfire

Australia sees it's most widespread bushfire season in 2019-2020

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Flood

Storm Ciara and Dennis work together to flood towns and villages across the UK in February 2020.

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Ice

Using data from December for the last 41 years, the Arctic has lost about 1.9 million square kilometers of sea ice.

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Deforestation

In the last 50 years, we have lost 17% of the Amazon Rainforest to Deforestation.

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Green Snow

Climate Change is causing a bloom of snow algae which is turning the snow in Antarctica green. Snow algae only thrive when temperatures are just above freezing. Climate change is causing more of the snow to melt, so more snow algae grow!

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Flash Flooding

Flash Floods in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia occurred on the 1st January 2020, destroying much of the city.

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Cyclone

Cyclone Amphan hit East India and Bangladesh in May 2020. The cyclone was a category 5 hurricane and it caused widespread damage.

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Forest Fires

In May 2020, a forest fire caused 51 hectares of forest in Uttarakhand, India to burn for several days.

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Snow Storm

Storm Filomena caused heavy snow in Madrid and other areas of Spain. Madrid has not seen snowfall of this severity since 1971.

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Hurricanes

2017 brought a string of record-breaking hurricanes to the US Gulf Coast, Puerto Rio and the Caribbean. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria saw some of the fastest wind speeds on record.

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Wildfires

Paradise, California was devastated after a wildfire, which spread at a rate of 80 football fields per minute, engulfed the town in 2018.

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Algae Blooms

95% of sea life off the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia was wiped out when rising sea temperatures caused toxic algae blooms to smother sea life.

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Coral Bleaching

Figi, in the area of the Pacific Ocean known as the Coral Coast, has been suffering from coral bleaching. In 2016, 30 - 60% of the coral was killed in the shallow reefs along the Coral Coast.

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Desertification

Senegal is one of the many countries in Africa to be affected by desertification. 34% of Senegal's arable land is affected by desertification- where fertile, rich land becomes baren and desert-like.

Click on the white circles to see examples of Climate Change in action

The Evidence

The earth’s average temperature keeps rising over time. The graph opposite shows how throughout time, the temperature has got higher and higher.

Despite scientists agreeing that climate change has been made worse by humans, some people believe that the warming we are seeing today is natural. After all, the climate has changed throughout history. Sometimes the sun gets hot spots which emit more heat for a few years.

Sometimes the earth spins and orbits in such a way that the earth is closer to the sun for a while, meaning that the earth warms up. These are called the Milanković Cycles.

And throughout history, these cycles and sunspots have caused the temperature to change.

However, scientists are very clever and are able to predict how much the sunspots and the Milanković Cycles will change the Earth’s temperature. The amount that the planet is warming is more than they have predicted using the sunspots and the Milanković Cycles alone. Something else must be causing the rest of the warming!

The global temperature has gone up when there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The global temperature has gone down when there are fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The graph shows the average temperature of the planet in red and the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) in blue. As the amount of carbon dioxide goes up, so does the temperature! Notice how the Carbon dioxide and temperature levels have both gone up much more since the industrial revolution in the 18th century!

Our job is to stop that black temperature line from getting any higher.