Ten International Climate Science facts
Climate change is happening to all of us – and because of us. Here are 10 facts you should know:
1. The first decade of this century was the warmest decade on the instrumental record. Visit the met office website for details
2. In the past 100 years the Earth has warmed by about 0.75°C and the speed at which it is warming is increasing. As a result, the UK spring has begun arriving about 10 days earlier than it did in the 1970s.
3. Arctic sea ice is melting and the September summer minimum extent has shrunk by about 10% every 10 years since the late 1970s.
4. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have increased by 38%, to 387ppm, since pre-industrial times.
5. Global sea levels have risen by about 17cm since 1900 as a result of melting ice and warming oceans. This is threatening low-lying countries such as Bangladesh. The global sea level could rise by up to 59cm this century, which in Europe alone would affect more than 20 million people.
6. Severe droughts are now twice as common as they were in 1970 and this is affecting the ability of various crops to grow.
7. Changes in solar radiation could not have caused the rapid warming we have seen in the past fifty years. Since the Industrial Revolution, the effect of additional greenhouse gases on the climate has been about 10 times the effect of changes in the Sun's output.
8. Even if all greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow, we are already locked into a global temperature rise of at least 1.4°C (since 1750).
9. The 2003 heat wave in western Europe, which caused 35,000 deaths (2,000 in the UK), is already twice as likely to happen again. At this rate, those heatwave temperatures will become a standard for Europe by the 2040s – and considered cool by the 2060s.
10. Scientists believe around 20% of species will become extinct with two degrees of warming.
For more information see the Department of Energy & Climate Change website.