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New Publication answers Key Questions about Climate Change

March 4, 2014; 12:28 AM ET

Two of the world's leading scientific bodies released a joint publication on climate change last week which addresses several common questions about the subject and explains the evidence that humans are the cause.

Both the Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have teamed up to explain the physical aspects of climate change in their report, which is titled 'Climate Change, Evidence and Causes'

Short introductory video from professor Eric Wolff and the Royal Society. Video courtesy of YouTube.

Some of the main points from the report......

--More certain than ever that climate change is happening.

--Humans are changing Earth's climate.

--Evidence is clear, but not every single detail is ever totally settled or completely certain.

--Atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased 40% since start of industrial revolution with half of that increase occurring after 1970.

--Slowdowns and accelerations in warming lasting a decade or more will continue to occur.

Here is a sampling of some of the most common questions about climate change and the answers from this panel of experts....

Q: How do scientists know that recent climate change is largely caused by human activities?

A: Scientists know that recent climate change is largely caused by human activities from an understanding of basic physics, comparing observations with models, and fingerprinting the detailed patterns of climate change caused by different human and natural influences.

Q: Does the rate of warming vary from one decade to another?

A: Yes. The observed warming rate has varied from year to year, decade to decade, and place to place, as is expected from our understanding of the climate system. These shorter-term variations are mostly due to natural causes, and do not contradict our fundamental understanding that the long-term warming trend is primarily due to human-induced

changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2and other greenhouse gases.

Q: Does the recent slowdown of warming mean that climate change is no longer happening?

A; No. Since the very warm year 1998 that followed the strong 1997-98 El Niño, the increase in average surface temperature has slowed relative to the previous decade of rapid temperature increases. Despite the slower rate of warming the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s. A short-term slowdown in the warming of Earth's surface does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases.

Q: Why is Arctic sea ice decreasing while Antarctic sea ice is not?

A: Sea ice extent is affected by winds and ocean currents as well as temperature. Sea ice in the partly-enclosed Arctic Ocean seems to be responding directly to warming, while changes in winds and in the ocean seem to be dominating the patterns of climate and sea ice change in the ocean around Antarctica.

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Key contributors to this peer-reviewed report.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Climate Change
In the AccuWeather.com Climate Change Blog, you will find links to the latest research, commentary by experts with various points of view on all aspects of global climate change.