geologyMcAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

Home » NASA Articles » Human-Caused Climate Change

Humans Linked to Climate Change


NASA Study Links Earth Impacts to Human-Caused Climate Change


Published as a NASA news release in May, 2008.

Human-Caused Climate Change



A new NASA-led study shows human-caused climate change has made an impact on a wide range of Earth's natural systems, including permafrost thawing, plants blooming earlier across Europe, and lakes declining in productivity in Africa.

Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Science in New York and scientists at 10 other institutions have linked physical and biological impacts since 1970 with rises in temperatures during that period. The study, to be published May 15 in the journal Nature, concludes human-caused warming is resulting in a broad range of impacts across the globe.

"This is the first study to link global temperature data sets, climate model results, and observed changes in a broad range of physical and biological systems to show the link between humans, climate, and impacts," said Rosenzweig, lead author of the study.

Rosenzweig and colleagues also found the link between human-caused climate change and observed impacts on Earth holds true at the scale of individual continents, particularly in North America, Europe, and Asia.

To arrive at the link, the authors built and analyzed a database of more than 29,000 data series pertaining to observed impacts on Earth's natural systems. The data were collected from about 80 studies, each with at least 20 years of records between 1970 and 2004.

Observed impacts included changes to physical systems, such as glaciers shrinking, permafrost melting, and lakes and rivers warming. Biological systems also were impacted in a variety of ways, such as leaves unfolding and flowers blooming earlier in the spring, birds arriving earlier during migration periods, and plant and animal species moving toward Earth's poles and higher in elevation. In aquatic environments such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, plankton and fish are shifting from cold-adapted to warm-adapted communities.

The team conducted a "joint attribution" study. They showed that at the global scale, about 90 percent of observed changes in diverse physical and biological systems are consistent with warming. Other driving forces, such as land use change from forest to agriculture, were ruled out as having significant influence on the observed impacts.

Next, the scientists conducted statistical tests and found the spatial patterns of observed impacts closely match temperature trends across the globe, to a degree beyond what can be attributed to natural variability. The team concluded observed global-scale impacts are very likely because of human-caused warming.

"Humans are influencing climate through increasing greenhouse gas emissions," Rosenzweig said. "The warming is causing impacts on physical and biological systems that are now attributable at the global scale and in North America, Europe, and Asia."

On some continents, including Africa, South America, and Australia, documentation of observed changes in physical and biological systems is still sparse despite warming trends attributable to human causes. The authors concluded environmental systems on these continents need additional research, especially in tropical and subtropical areas where there is a lack of impact data and published studies.

The information above was published as a NASA news release in May, 2008.

human and natural climate change
There are many human activities and natural processes that contribute to climate change. Some of them provide input that might raise temperatures, others provide inputs that might lower temperatures. Image from ClimateScience.gov


climate change map
Areas of significant changes to Earth systems observed in North America over the last 20 years, represented by various symbols, are linked with areas of rising temperatures, noted in red. Credit: NASA


For more detailed information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mro. For more information about the Mars Phoenix Lander, visit http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix . This information on this page was published as a NASA news release in May, 2008.


Find it on Geology.com




More from Geology.com


Fee Mining
Find Minerals and Gems: Dozens of sites where you can dig and keep what you find.
Sunstone: Copper inclusions give this feldspar an aventurescent flash.
US Diamond Mines
US Diamond Mines: Did you know that diamonds can be found in the United States?
Organic Gems
Organic Gems are gems formed from or by plants or animals. They might also be fossils.
Volcanoes
Volcanoes: Articles about volcanoes, volcanic hazards and eruptions past and present.
Sliding Rocks
Sliding Rocks Mystery: What causes these rocks to slide across a Death Valley playa?
Helium
Helium is a byproduct of the natural gas industry. Its most important use is in MRI.
Diamonds
Diamonds: Learn about the properties of diamond, its many uses and diamond discoveries.


© 2005-2014 Geology.com. All Rights Reserved.
Images, code and content of this website are property of Geology.com. Use without permission is prohibited. Pages on this site are protected by Copyscape.