Understanding climate change and how it’s affecting the world today (406 words, US, UK, CAN)

The term “climate change” has become part of the modern lexicon. The term “global warming” was once widely used, but the term climate change became more common after researchers discovered that the changes affecting the planet involved more than a rise in temperature.

What is climate change?
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in weather patterns and temperatures, according to the United Nations Climate Action. Although natural forces, such as natural disasters, can affect climate change, by and large the most prolific influencer has been human behavior, notably the use of fossil fuels. NASA says burning fossil fuels increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in the Earth’s atmosphere, raising the overall surface temperature of the planet. 

Signs of climate change
Scientists already are seeing evidence of the effects of climate change. NASA says loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and ice sheets, rising sea levels, and more intense heat waves already are occurring. Additional notable and evident effects of climate change include:
• Glaciers are melting at a faster rate.
• There is less snowpack in mountain ranges and polar regions.
• When snow is present, it melts faster.
• Permafrost is melting, releasing methane. This is a powerful greenhouse gas that rises into the atmosphere and compounds the climate change problem.
• Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and around the North Pole is melting at a faster rate. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates ice covering the Arctic Ocean has diminished by more than 40 percent since the start of the satellite era in 1979.
• Tropical storms have become more severe as a result of warmer ocean water temperatures.
• Sea levels are rising, threatening coastal communities and ecosystems. The NOAA reports that, in 2022, global average sea level set a new record high of 101.2 mm. That is four inches above 1993 levels.
• In many coastal locations around the United States, the rate of sea level rise is even higher than the global average due to erosion, oil and groundwater pumping, and subsidence.
• High-tide flooding is now between 300 and 900 percent more frequent than it was 50 years ago.
• The ocean is storing the majority of excess heat from rising global temperatures, contributing to measureable shelf retreat and stress on marine life.
The more individuals understand about global climate change, the more they can do to get to help combat it.

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