Radiative Forcing

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona

Radiative forcing measures the influence that climate-altering factors have on the energy balance of the Earth. Examples of factors that can alter the Earth’s energy balance include atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, aerosols from volcanoes and air pollution, and the amount of solar radiation delivered to the Earth by the Sun.

In a state of equilibrium, solar radiation entering the atmosphere equals the radiation that …

Extreme Events

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona

Extreme events, such as floods, heat waves, and hurricanes, are rare weather occurrences that often cause the greatest damage to society. In the yearly distribution of rainfall, for example, extreme precipitation events that cause flooding occur less frequently than the “average” rainfall events, but the economic toll of floods is many times greater.

Any climate variable can be characterized by a probability distribution, which conveys …

Enhanced Greenhouse Gas Effect

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor, are naturally part of the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases tap heat from the sun’s radiation in the atmosphere and act as powerful amplifiers of temperature. The natural greenhouse gas effect (Figure 1) helps to elevate the average temperature in the lower atmosphere to a comfortable 60 degrees F. Without GHGs, average atmosphere temperatures would …

Climate Change Impacts in the Northeastern U.S.

Adapted from: T.R. Karl, J.M. Mellilo, and T.C. Peterson (eds.). Global Climate Impacts in the United States. Cambridge University Press, 2009. Available online at USGCRP
The region of the United States that is covered by report on Regional Impacts from the U.S. Global Climate Research Program.

 

 

 

 

Climate change in the Northeast has meant hotter temperatures, more heavy rains, and less lake ice and snow cover. Northeast annual average temperature has increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, with winter temperatures rising twice this much. The warming has resulted in more frequent unusually hot days and a longer growing season. The region …

Climate Change Impacts in the Southeastern U.S.

Adapted from:Global Climate Impacts in the United States. T.R. Karl, J.M. Mellilo, and T.C. Peterson (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 2009. Available online at USGCRP
The region of the United States that is covered by report on Regional Impacts for the Southeastern United States from the U.S. Global Climate Research Program.

 

 

The Southeast region serves as an example of how rising temperatures can be associated with both increased drought and an increased frequency of downpours and other intense precipitation events. Southeast annual average temperature has risen 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, with the greatest seasonal increase in the winter months. From 1901 to 2008, there was …

Climate Variability and Change: Basic Concepts

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona

The climate system is dynamic and complex. While weather conditionschange over short periods of time, such as when anvil-shaped clouds burst in the late afternoon during monsoon season, climate describes average conditions over longer intervals. Understanding this distinction and other basic concepts such as radiative forcing and the enhanced greenhouse gas effect can clarify how the climate is changing and how humans have contributed to …

Weather and Climate

RainbowWeather and climate are often confused. In this article, we explore how climate and weather are different from and related to each other.

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona
Figure 1. As an example of climate, thunderstorms usually occur during the summer months in the southwestern United States, whereas each individual storm represents an example of weather. Photo by Terry Spivey, USDA Forest Service via forestryimages.com

Do you trust your local …

Natural Variability and Climate Change

Image:Forest field trip.jpgClimate naturally varies over a variety of different scales. Learn some of the aspects that influence climate variation here.

 

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona
Figure 1. Climate naturally varies on a number of different scales (e.g., temperature, precipitation, geographically). Such changes influence species’ distributions, phenology, and migration patterns in every ecosystem. Photo courtesy of Chris Schnepf, University of Idaho.

The climate varies naturally from one year to the next. Climate …