January 30, 2012
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NASA has created a new animation showing regional temperature changes on a map of the Earth from 1880-2011. On the map, blues represent temperatures lower than baseline averages, while reds indicate temperatures higher than the average. As the 131 years pass, the map turns from bluish-white to increasingly yellow and red. Caused by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, agricultural practices, and other human impacts, climate change has currently raised temperatures 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the Industrial Revolution average.
"We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting," explains NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)'s Director James E. Hansen. "So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures."
Last year was the ninth warmest year on record and the warmest La Niña, which usually brings cooler weather, yet recorded. The past decade (2000-2009) was the warmest on record. Currently, nine of the ten hottest years have occurred since 2000. Meanwhile the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is a hundred ppm (parts per million) higher than it was in 1880, hitting 390 ppm.
Global climate change has been linked to the melting of the Arctic sea ice, global sea level rise, increased droughts and floods, worsening extreme weather, desertification, melting glaciers, species migrations, and numerous other issues. Predicted impacts have included increased global conflict, food shortages, economic collapse, and mass extinction.
To read more: Sober up: world running out of time to keep planet from over-heating.