What Is The Current Evidence

What Is The Current Evidence?

TemperatureAverage temperatures have risen across the lower 48 states since 1901, at an average rate of 1.3°F/century. Since the 1970s, this rate has increased to 0.35 to 0.51°F/decade, significantly faster than the global rate. Seven of the top 10 warmest years on record for the lower 48 states have occurred since 19901.

In this NASA animation of temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.

Source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Visualization credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.

IceSubstantial amounts of ice are contained in glaciers and the arctic – both are shrinking. This melting is consistent with the global warming trends.

Since 1960, glaciers worldwide have lost more than 2,000 cubic miles of water, which has contributed to rising sea levels. The rate at which glaciers are losing volume appears to have accelerated.

Arctic sea ice covers nearly the entire Arctic Ocean in winter, then partially melts during summer. Annual sea ice coverage is sensitive to increases in temperature. Additionally, Arctic sea ice helps stabilize global temperatures because of its ability to reflect sunlight.

In 2007, Arctic sea ice was reduced by 1 million square miles, an area roughly equal to Alaska and Texas combined, versus the 1979 to 2000 average.


Ice melting from 1979 to 2000

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency.

SeaAverage sea levels rose worldwide throughout the 20th century, and the rate of change has accelerated in recent years, paralleling the increases in GHG and surface temperature, after minimal changes for the preceding 2,000 years. Across the planet, absolute sea level increased an average of 0.06 inches per year from 1870 to 2008. However, the recent trend has been much faster. From 1993 to 2008, average sea level rose 0.11 to 0.13 inches per year.

Along the US coastline, relative sea level rose between 1958 and 2008, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf coasts, where some areas increased more than 8 inches.

While absolute sea level has increased steadily overall, particularly in recent decades, regional trends vary, and absolute sea level has decreased in some places.


1Source: Climate Change Indicators in the United States, EPA. 2010.

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