By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Scientists believe that manmade pollution releases nasty greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping the Sun’s heat on Earth and causing global warming. This climate change is triggering a chain reaction of wacky weather and temperatures that are hitting extreme highs and lows, which is why 2013 and 2014 are showing some of the most record-breaking climate events. In fact, NASA released a report saying that 2014 was the hottest year on record!
What may come as a surprise to you is that global warming can actually cause extra frosty weather. See, there’s a layer of fast-flowing wind around the Earth called the “jet stream” that separates cold air in the North from the warm air in the South.
As the jet stream weakens with climate change, more of that chilly air is released onto the rest of the planet, which is why North America was struck by a so-called polar vortex and dozens of destructive storms last year.
Back in 2013, Earth’s temperatures were somewhere between 2nd and 6th place for the hottest year on record, since scientists began tracking temperatures in 1880. Now, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) puts together its yearly climate report by combining information from around the globe, and it’s reviewed by over 420 climate experts from almost 60 countries. The warming trend they’ve observed is rather alarming, since the 10 hottest years on record have happened since 2000 (with the exception of 1998).
“The climate is changing more rapidly in today’s world than at any time in modern civilization,” explains Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
Comparing the Earth’s climate to the human body’s health, he says, “If we look at it like we’re trying to maintain an ideal weight, then we’re continuing to see ourselves put more weight on from year to year.”
The shifting temperatures are also melting glaciers, which is why sea levels have been steadily rising for the past 20 years. Antarctica has even lost a Mount Everest’s worth of ice due to global warming. You know… the world’s tallest mountain.
Also, Arctic sea ice in the north polar ocean has fallen by about 14% every 10 years. In Alaska alone, the melting ice stranded 35,000 walruses 5 miles north of Point Lay.
Images courtesy of NASA.