Global Climate Change The Exploratorium
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Interpreting past and present climate data is difficult, but predicting future climate change—and its possible effects—is even more challenging. Researchers use complex computer simulations called climate models to predict long-term weather patterns. A model’s reliability depends on the number of variables taken into account and the accuracy of measurements used.

What are the possible implications of continued global climate change?
Researchers are studying a variety of areas, from variations in the frequency and intensity of storms to changes in the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases. Rising sea levels can flood coastal areas, and habitat changes can cause the extinction of some species of plants and animals. Increases in precipitation can cause floods and landslides, while decreases may lead to droughts and wildfires. This range of possible effects is one reason why many types of scientists are keenly interested in understanding the earth’s changing climate.

 glossary glossary terms  

Click for definitions of words used on this page:

climate model

View the full, printable version of the glossary.

Annual Mean Precipitation thumbnail

Annual Mean Precipitation as Simulated by a Global Climate Model and Observed Values - Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Global Change Science Climate Modeling Initiative

Risk of Malaria Transmission thumbnail

Risk of Malaria Transmission - Pim Martens, Maastricht University

Sample Forecasts thumbnail

Sample Forecasts of Future Temperature Change - Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint program on the Science and policy of Global Change

Annual Global No. thumbnail

Average Annual Global Number of People Flooded under Three Emissions Scenarios - Robert Nicholls, Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University

Annual Mean Sea Surface thumbnail

Change in Annual Mean Sea Surface Temperature under Four Emissions Scenarios - UK Climate Impacts Programme

 questions about this section  

question How likely is it that climate change will have significant global effects in the next hundred years?

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 more sites about the global effects

International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) - This research institute, based at Columbia University, offers a data library, information on prediction, forecasting, and modeling, and the Climate Information Digest, a monthly summary of recent climate events all over the world.

• Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research - Describes different types of climate models.

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