The United States is not experiencing favorable times in terms of climate. The temperature is rising and snow and rain patterns are changing. In addition, strong storms have become common. What are the reasons behind this climate change? Some of these changes in climate are due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases. This increase in greenhouse gases is mainly due to human activities. EPA indicators provide evidence of how the climate is changing and how it is impacting the environment and people. The Environmental Protection Agency joins a host of data contributors in compiling indicators that tell us about climate change in the United States. Let’s find out what these indicators of climate change are.
Climate change indicators:
- Greenhouse gases
- Weather changes
- The influence of the ocean
The most important driver of climate change is greenhouse gases from human actions, as observed since the mid-20th century. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States have decreased by 7 percent between 1990 and 2020. Since 2005, total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States have decreased by a total of 20 percent. Carbon dioxide accounts for the majority of the country’s emissions and most of the decline since 1990. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is transportation. Electricity generation as a source of greenhouse gas emissions is the second largest source. However, in recent years emissions per person have seen a slight decrease.
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The global average temperature is increasing and one of the factors driving this increase is widespread alterations in weather patterns. Studies point to the fact that widespread extreme weather events, such as large storms and heat waves, are likely to become more frequent with human-caused climate changes.
Average temperatures have increased in the lower 48 states since 1901, along with an intensified rate of warming over the past three decades. Since 1998, the United States has experienced nine of the ten warmest years. A similar trend can be seen in average global temperatures. The 10 warmest years on record worldwide have occurred since 2005. Temperatures have increased the most in parts of the West, North and Alaska within the United States.
The influence of the ocean:
Oceans cover about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. It is obvious that with such substantial coverage, the world’s oceans have a deep relationship with weather and climate. The oceans impact the climate on both a global and local scale. In contrast, climate changes can fundamentally change many properties of the oceans.
Ocean heat, sea surface temperatures, sea level rise, coastal flooding, and ocean acidity are some of the ways the oceans can impact climate change. The amount of heat trapped in the oceans has increased substantially since the 1950s. The heat content of the ocean not only determines sea surface temperatures, but also affects currents and sea levels. Ocean surface temperatures have also increased worldwide over the past century. While there have been some variations from year to year, the overall increase in ocean surface temperatures can be studied very clearly. Over the past 30 years, sea surface temperatures have risen steadily. Sea level rise has also occurred at a rate of about six-tenths of an inch every 10 years since 1880. In recent years, the rate of rise has accelerated to more than an inch per decade. Alterations in sea level relative to land vary from region to region. The acidity of the ocean is also another factor. In recent decades, atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolving in water has increased, causing ocean acidity. Flooding is also becoming common along the United States coast due to rising sea levels. An increase in coastal flooding can be observed at all measured sites since the 1950s.
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