How Will Climate Change Affect The Future – The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to rise unless billions of tons of our annual emissions are drastically reduced. Concentrations are expected to increase:
Many greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for a long time. As a result, even if emissions stopped rising, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would continue to rise and remain high for centuries. Furthermore, if we stabilized the atmosphere and the current atmosphere remained stable (which would require significant reductions in greenhouse gases), surface water temperatures would continue to warm. That’s because the oceans, which store heat, take decades to fully respond to many greenhouse gases. The ocean’s response to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming will continue to affect climate for decades to centuries.
- 1 How Will Climate Change Affect The Future
- 2 Effects Of Climate Change On Future Generations
- 3 This Visual Shows How Climate Change Will Affect Generations
- 4 Is Climate Change Affecting Your Mental Health? Check Out This Resource List
How Will Climate Change Affect The Future
To learn more about greenhouse gases, please visit the Greenhouse Gas Emissions page and the Greenhouse Effects section of the Causes of Climate Change page.
Effects Of Climate Change On Future Generations
Because it is difficult to predict future emissions and other human factors that affect the climate, scientists use different scenarios using different assumptions about the economic, social, technological and environmental future.
This figure shows the estimated greenhouse gas emissions for four different emission pathways. The above scenario assumes that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise throughout this century. The lower trajectory assumes that emissions peak between 2010 and 2020 and then decline. Source: Graph created from data in the Representative Concentration Pathways database (version 2.0.5) http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web-apps/tnt/RcpDb Click image for larger version.
We have already seen global warming in recent decades. Temperatures are expected to change even more in the future. Climate models show the following important temperature-related changes.
Estimated global temperature changes for four emission pathways (rows) for three different periods (bars). Temperature changes are associated with 1986-2005. annual average. The pathways are from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: RCP2.6 is the very low emission pathway, RCP4.5 is the medium emission pathway, RCP6.0 is the medium emission pathway and RCP8.5 is the high emission pathway. (emissions are assumed to continue to rise throughout the century). Source: IPCC, 2013Exit Click image for larger version.
What Disastrous Consequences Will Global Warming And Climate Change Have For Our Future?
Observed and estimated changes in global mean temperature under four emission pathways. The vertical bars on the right show warming at the end of the century, while the lines show projections for different climates. Changes are related to the average of 1986-2005. year. Source: IPCC, 2013Exit, FAQ 12.1, Figure 1. Click on the image to view a larger version.
Projected temperature changes by mid-century (left) and end-of-century (right) for the United States under the high (top) and low (bottom) scenarios. Thermometer brackets indicate the range of sample readings, although results may be lower or higher. Source: USGCRP (2009)
Precipitation patterns and storms, including rain and snow, may also change. However, some of these changes are less definite than those associated with temperature. Forecasts show that future precipitation and storm patterns will vary by time and location. Some areas may experience less precipitation, others may experience more precipitation, and others may experience little or no change. During the heavy rains, rainfall is likely to increase in many areas as the storms are expected to move. Climate models predict changes in rain and storms to follow.
Projected annual global emission changes for low emissions (left) and high emissions (right). Precipitation is expected to increase in the blue and green zones and decrease in the yellow and brown zones by the end of this century. Source: IPCC, 2013Exit Click image for larger version.
Fish Thermometer’ Reveals Long Standing, Global Impact Of Climate Change
The maps show projected future changes in precipitation by the end of this century compared to 1970-1999. year under high emission scenarios. For example, in winter and spring, climate models agree that the northern part of the United States will be wetter and the southern part drier. There is little hope of where the transition between wet and dry places will occur. The greatest confidence in the planned changes is in the areas marked with diagonal lines. Variation in white areas is expected to be no greater than expected from natural variation. Source: U.S. National Climate Assessment, 2014. Click image for larger version.
Arctic sea ice is already shrinking. Snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased since 1970. Permafrost temperatures in Alaska and much of the Arctic  have increased over the past century. To learn more about the latest snow and ice changes, visit the Snow and Ice page under Indicators.
Over the next century, sea ice is expected to continue to decline, glaciers to shrink, snow to continue, and permafrost to continue to melt. Possible changes in ice, snow and permafrost are described below These maps show the expected loss of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. Map (a) shows ice extent (relative area covered by sea ice) from 1986 to 2005. Maps (b) and (c) show climate patterns of sea ice thickness in February and September until the end of the 21st century under low (b) and high (c) gas conditions. The Arctic is expected to have less ice (more blue) in February; September is estimated to be nearly ice-free (almost completely blue). Possible changes in Antarctic sea ice are more subtle. Source: IPCC, 2013 Click image for larger version.
Meltwater flowing from the Greenland ice sheet Source: NASA Global warming is driving sea level rise by: raising sea levels; melting glaciers and ice caps; and causes the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps to melt or flow into the sea.
This Visual Shows How Climate Change Will Affect Generations
Global sea levels have risen about 7.5 inches since 1870. Estimates of future sea level rise vary from region to region, but global sea levels are expected to rise faster in the next century than in the past 50 years.
Studies show that global sea levels will rise by 1-4 feet by 2100, with an uncertain range of 0.66 to 6.6 feet.
The effects of thermal expansion, glaciers, and ice sheets on sea-level rise are relatively well studied, but the effects of climate change on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are poorly understood and an active area of research. Glacier changes are currently expected to cause 1.2 to 8 inches of sea level rise by the end of this century.
Past and projected sea level rise between 1800 and 2100. The orange line on the right shows the current projected sea level rise of 1 to 4 feet by 2100; the wide range (0.66 to 6.6 feet) reflects uncertainty about how glaciers will respond to climate change. Source: NCA, 2014. Click image for larger version. Regional and local factors will influence future sea level rise along certain coastlines around the world. For example, sea level rise depends on land elevation changes that occur as a result of subsidence (subsidence) or uplift (uplift). Assuming these geologic historical forces continue, a 2-foot sea-level rise by 2100 will result in the following sea-level rise:
How Will Climate Change Affect Future Generations?
The amount of sea level rise also depends on changes in tides, wind, salinity, and water temperature, as well as the proximity of ice retreat.
Ocean acidification adversely affects many marine species, including plankton, molluscs, crustaceans and corals. As ocean acidity increases, the availability of calcium carbonate will decrease. Calcium carbonate is the basis for building the shells and bones of aquatic organisms. If atmospheric CO
If concentrations continue to rise at current rates, the combination of global warming and ocean acidification could slow coral growth by as much as 50% by 2050.
Oceans are becoming more acidic as carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere dissolves into the ocean. This change is measured on the pH scale, with lower values being more acidic. Ocean pH has decreased by about 0.1 pH units since the pre-industrial era, corresponding to about a 30% increase in acidification. As shown in the graph and map above, ocean pH is expected to continue to decline by the end of the century as CO2 concentrations are expected to increase for the foreseeable future.Source: IPCC, 2013, Chapter 6. Click Image for larger version.
What Is Climate Change? A Really Simple Guide
 USGCRP (2014) Melillo, Jerry M., Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, eds., 2014: Climate Change Impacts in the United States: Third National Climate Assessment. UNITED STATES. Global Change Research Program
 IPCC (2013). Climate Change 2013: Creation of the Physical Sciences Foundation. Contribution of the Interim Working Group to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Platner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boshung, A. Nauell, Y. Xia, W. Becks, and P.M. Midley (ed.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA.
 NRC (2011). Climate Stabilization Initiatives: Trends, Contexts, and Consequences from Decades to the Millennium. National Research Council. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.
 USGCRP (2009). Impact of global climate change on
Is Climate Change Affecting Your Mental Health? Check Out This Resource List
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