4 Key Climate Change Indicators

Climate change is not only measured by temperature. Parameters known as indicators are used to study climate change from a holistic perspective. Below are four of the many ways climate scientists are observing the changing planet and documenting climate change.

1
Decreasing Arctic And Antarctic Sea Ice

The Arctic and Antarctic are home to vast ice sheets and glaciers. These landscapes are essential to the function of the entire planet and the climate. However, climate change and increased air and surface temperatures have forced sea ice to retreat. 

A NASA study revealed 118-200 gigatons of ice have melted or broken off into the sea. These effects have caused global sea levels to rise a half-inch between 2003 and 2019, according to their data. Climate scientists estimate this trend to continue, as currently, there are no mitigations in place to conserve sea ice, and much research is still needed to do so.

2
Rising Sea Levels

Sea levels across the planet are rising. Many individuals have already been displaced by sea-level rise and flooding. Rising sea levels have been recorded for over forty years and have shown a correlation between melting ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic and sea-level rise. 

Since 1993, average sea levels globally have increased by 2.7 inches and are expected to increase by another two feet by the end of the century. If these projections are correct, millions of humans and wildlife will be forced out of their communities and habitat. 

3
Higher Land Temperatures

The average temperatures on land and measured in the air are steadily increasing across the globe. Land temperatures are recorded by generating average temperatures of the ground surface; think of it like the skin of a planet, and you're checking for a fever. This temperature is relevant as land temperatures can help scientists understand how the planet is absorbing heat from the sun and at what rate. 

For the last century, these temperatures have steadily increased, making drought conditions, hurricanes, growing seasons, and wildfires more difficult and frequent. Increased land temperatures also impact human health and makes us more sensitive to heat exhaustion. Land temperatures are measured directly from various stations across the globe or are generated using satellite technology.

ice sea
4
Decreasing Snow Volume

Snow and ice packs deflect the sun's rays back into space, helping to cool the planet and maintain a balanced climate. In many areas of the world, record low snow falls are being recorded, especially in mountainous areas. 

Many communities rely on snowfall for water and crop seasons. As climate change progresses, scientists expect less overall global snowfall, resulting in more heat becoming trapped on Earth, furthering climate change. 

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Houses flooding
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Key Takeaways
  • Climate change is measured by its indicators. 
  • Indicators are used to collect data over time to recognize climate patterns.
  • Climate change is the leading cause of rising sea levels and global temperature changes that pose risks to humanity.