How Will Climate Change Affect The Future – Unless our annual emissions are significantly reduced by billions of tons, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to rise. Concentration is expected to increase:
Most greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for long periods of time. As a result, even if emissions stop rising, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to rise and remain high for hundreds of years. Furthermore, if we hold concentrations constant and the composition of today’s atmosphere remains constant (which would require dramatic reductions in current greenhouse gas emissions), surface air temperatures will continue to warm. Because heat-storing oceans take decades to fully respond to high greenhouse gas concentrations. The ocean’s response to higher greenhouse gas concentrations and higher temperatures will affect climate over decades to hundreds of years.
- 1 How Will Climate Change Affect The Future
- 2 Global Warming And Climate Change Effects: Information And Facts
- 3 How Does Climate Change Threaten Where You Live? A Region By Region Guide.
- 4 The Missing Risks Of Climate Change
How Will Climate Change Affect The Future
To learn more about greenhouse gases, please see the Greenhouse Effects section on the Simple Household Emissions page and the Causes page on the Climate Change page.
Global Warming And Climate Change Effects: Information And Facts
Because it is difficult to project distant future emissions and other human factors affecting climate, scientists use different scenarios, using different assumptions about future economic, social, technological, and environmental conditions.
This figure shows the estimated greenhouse gas concentrations for four different emission pathways. The above pathway assumes that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise into the current century. The lower pathway assumes that emissions will peak between 2010 and 2020 and then decline. Source: Graph created from data from Representative Concentration Pathways Database (version 2.0.5) http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web-apps/tnt/RcpDb Click image to view larger version.
We have already observed global warming in the last few decades. Future temperatures are expected to change further. Climate models project the following major temperature-related changes.
Projected change in global mean temperature under four emission pathways (rows) for three different periods (columns). Temperature changes are relative to the 1986-2005 average. These pathways come from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: RCP2.6 is the very low emissions pathway, RCP4.5 is the medium emissions pathway, RCP6.0 is the medium-high emissions pathway, and RCP8.5 is the high emissions pathway (throughout the century (assuming emissions continue to rise). Source: IPCC, 2013Exit Click image to view larger version.
How Does Climate Change Threaten Where You Live? A Region By Region Guide.
Observations and projections of global mean temperature changes under four emission pathways. The vertical bars on the right show the temperature range by the end of the century, and the lines show the range-averaged predictions of climate models. Changes are relative to the 1986–2005 average. Source: IPCC, 2013Exit, FAQ 12.1, Figure 1. Click image to view larger version.
Projected temperature changes for the United States at mid-century (left) and end-of-century (right) under high (top) and low (bottom) emissions scenarios. The brackets on the thermometer represent the possible range of model predictions, although lower or higher results may be obtained. Source: USGCRP (2009)
Precipitation and storm event patterns, including both rain and snow, are likely to change. However, some of these changes are less specific than temperature-related changes. Forecasts show that future precipitation and storm changes will vary by season and region. Some regions may experience less rainfall, some areas may experience more rainfall, and some areas may experience little or no change. Precipitation is expected to increase in many areas during heavy precipitation events, and storm tracks are predicted to shift poleward. Climate models show the following changes in precipitation and storms.
Projected changes in global annual average precipitation for the low emissions scenario (left) and the high emissions scenario (right). Blue and green areas are projected to increase precipitation by the end of the century, while yellow and brown areas are expected to decrease. Source: IPCC, 2013Exit Click image to view larger version.
Children Are The Future
The maps show future changes in precipitation under high-emissions conditions by the end of this century compared to 1970-1999. For example, in winter and spring, climate models agree that the northern part of the United States is likely to be wet and the southern part drier. Where the transition between wet and dry zones occurs is less certain. Confidence in the projected changes is highest in the area marked with a diagonal line. Changes in white area are not predicted to be greater than expected from natural variability. Source: US National Climate Assessment, 2014. Click image to view larger version.
Arctic sea ice is already receding. Northern Hemisphere ice cover has declined since the 1970s. Permafrost temperatures  in Alaska and the Arctic have increased over the past century. To learn more about recent changes in snow and ice, visit the Snow and Ice page in the index section.
Over the next century, sea ice is expected to continue to decline, glaciers to recede, ice sheets to shrink, and regular snowmelt to continue. Possible changes in snow, ice, and permafrost are described below. These maps show the projected loss of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. Maps in a) show average ice concentration (area covered by sea ice) from 1986–2005. Maps in b) and c) show climate model simulations of sea ice thickness in February and September at the end of the 21st century under low (b) and high (c) emissions scenarios. In the Arctic, February is predicted to have less snow (more blue); September is predicted to be nearly snow free (almost all blue). Projected changes in Antarctic sea ice are more subtle. Source: IPCC, 2013 Click image to view larger version.
Greenland Ice Sheet Meltwater Source:NASA Warming Causes Sea Level Rise: Seawater Expansion; melting of mountain glaciers and glaciers; causing parts of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to melt or drift into the oceans.
Effects Of Climate Change On Future Generations
Global sea level has risen by about 7.5 inches since 1870. Projections of future sea level rise will vary for different regions, but global sea level is expected to rise faster over the next century than it has over the past 50 years.
By 2100, studies project that global sea level will rise another 1 to 4 feet, with an uncertain range of 0.66 to 6.6 feet.
The contribution of thermal expansion, ice sheets, and small glaciers to sea level rise is relatively well studied, but the impact of climate change on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is poorly understood and represents an active area of research. Changes in ice sheets are expected to increase sea levels by 1.2 to 8 inches by the end of this century.
Past and projected sea level rise from 1800 to 2100. The orange line on the right shows the current projected range of 1 to 4 feet of sea level rise by 2100. The wide range (0.66 feet to 6.6 feet) reflects uncertainty about how glaciers and ice sheets will respond to climate change. Source:NCA, 2014. Click image to view larger version. Regional and local factors will influence relative sea level rise for specific coastlines around the world in the future. For example, the relative rise in sea level depends on changes in land elevation (subsidence) or elevation (uplift). If these historical geologic forces continue, a 2-foot rise in global sea level by 2100 would result in the following relative sea-level rise:
Mitigating Climate Change
Relative sea-level rise also depends on local changes in currents, winds, salinity and water temperature, as well as the presence of thinning ice.
Ocean acidification adversely affects many marine species, including plankton, molluscs, oysters, and corals. As ocean acidity increases, the availability of calcium carbonate decreases. Calcium carbonate is a major building block for the shells and skeletons of many marine organisms. CO if atmospheric
With concentrations increasing at current rates, a combination of climate warming and ocean acidification could reduce coral reef growth by as much as 50% by 2050.
As atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dissolve in the oceans, the oceans become more acidic. This difference is measured on the pH scale, with lower values being more acidic. Ocean pH has decreased by approximately 0.1 pH units since pre-industrial times, which equates to approximately 30% more acidity. As shown in the chart and map above, ocean pH is projected to decrease further by the end of the century as CO2 concentrations are expected to increase in the future.Source: IPCC, 2013, Chapter 6 Click image to view larger version.
Green Jobs: How Will Climate Change Impact Employment Trends?
 USGCRP (2014) Melillo, Jerry M., Terese (TC) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, eds., 2014: Impacts of climate change in the United States: Third National Climate Assessment. US Global Change Research Program.
 IPCC (2013). Climate Change 2013: Physics Foundation Exit. Action Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Knowles, Y. Zia, V. Becks and P.M. Midgley (ed.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, New York, USA.
 NRC (2011). Climate Stabilization Goals: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts in the Decades to the Millennium Exit. National Research Council. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, USA.
 USGCRP (2009). Effects of global climate change
The Missing Risks Of Climate Change
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