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Climate Change: What The Science Tells Us, 2nd Edition



Climate Change: What The Science Tells Us, 2nd Edition

Chip Fletcher

ISBN: 978-1-118-79306-0 October 2018 352 Pages

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This book introduces climate change fundamentals and essential concepts that reveal the extent of the damage, the impacts felt around the globe, and the innovation and leadership it will take to bring an end to the status quo. Emphasizing peer-reviewed literature, this text details the impact of climate change on land and sea, the water cycle, human communities, the weather, and humanity’s collective future. Coverage of greenhouse gases, oceanic and atmospheric processes, Pleistocene and Holocene paleoclimate, sea levels, and other fundamental topics provide a deep understanding of key mechanisms, while discussion of extreme weather, economic impacts, and resource scarcity reveals how climate change is already impacting people’s lives—and will continue to do so at an increasing rate for the foreseeable future. 

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Preface ix

1 Evidence of Climate Change 1

Chapter Summary 1

Introduction 2

Climate Change is Real and it is Dangerous 6

The Earth System is Changing 12

Reliable Sources of Climate Change Information 19

How Unusual is the Present Warming? 25

Surface Temperature 26

Human Fingerprints on Climate 27

A Consistent Picture Emerges 31

Animations and Videos 35

Comprehension Questions 35

Thinking Critically 36

Activities 36

Key Terms 36

2 Radiative Equilibrium 37

Chapter Summary 37

Earth’s Energy Budget 38

Anthropogenic Forcing 49

Animations and Videos 67

Climate Change Essay 68

Comprehension Questions 68

Thinking Critically 68

Activities 68

Key Terms 69

3 The Climate System 70

Chapter Summary 70

Weather and Climate 71

The Atmosphere 71

Climate Zones 74

Jet Stream 88

Ocean Currents Carry Heat 90

Global Warming Is Changing the Ocean 92

Outlook 101

Animations and Videos 102

Ocean Threats 102

Comprehension Questions 102

Thinking Critically 102

Activities 103

Key Terms 103

4 Are Humans the Cause? 104

Chapter Summary 104

Mitigating Global Warming Requires Managing Carbon 105

Paleoclimate 114

Is Global Warming Caused by the Sun? 136

Did Global Warming End After 1998? 137

Do Scientists Disagree on Global Warming? 140

Are Climate Data Faulty? 141

Is Today’s Warming Simply a Repeat of the Recent Past? 142

In Conclusion 145

Animations and Videos 146

Comprehension Questions 146

Thinking Critically 146

Activities 147

Key Terms 147

5 Sea-Level Rise 148

Chapter Summary 148

Rate of Sea-Level Rise 150

Sea-Level Components 164

Sea-Level Impacts 176

The Eemian Analogue and a Warning of Our Future 190

Conclusion 190

Animations and Videos 191

Comprehension Questions 191

Thinking Critically 191

Activities 192

Key Terms 192

6 Modeling Climate 193

Chapter Summary 193

Climate Models 194

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—Assessment Report 5 205

Conclusion 215

Additional Considerations 216

Concluding Thoughts 234

Animations and Videos 235

Comprehension Questions 236

Thinking Critically 236

Activities 236

Key Terms 237

7 Warming Impacts 238

Chapter Summary 238

Air Temperature and Precipitation Patterns in the United States 239

Climate Impacts to Planning Sectors 243

Climate Impacts to Geographic Regions 263

Conclusion 275

Animations and Video 275

Comprehension Questions 275

Thinking Critically 275

Activities 276

Key Terms 276

8 Dangerous Climate 277

Chapter Summary 277

Extreme Weather 278

Drought 286

Wildfire 290

Ecosystem Impacts 293

Climate Sensitivity 299

Carbon Trends and Implications 305

Dangerous Climate 312

The Socio-Economic Framework of All Humanity Is at Risk 318

Animations and Videos 327

Comprehension Questions 327

Thinking Critically 327

Activities 328

Key Terms 328

Key Term Glossary 329

Index 337


  • Exploration of Earth’s climate system fundamentals and the latest impact data
  • Abundant footnoted reference to peer-reviewed research, reports, and other authoritative sources
  • Coverage of climate change denialism and a dissection of the most common arguments
  • Examination of climate modeling, the CMIP project, IPCC-AR5 projections and findings, and other phenomena that introduce spatial and temporal variability
  • Discussion on economic and social impacts, with new findings from IPCC-AR5 and the Fourth National Climate Assessment
  • Features the most up-to-date data surrounding the current and future effects of climate change
  • Explores the newest technology for climate modeling, impact mitigation, resource conservation, and more
  • Includes chapter exercises, learning objectives, videos, and cited references to enhance learning
  • Creative thinking problems facilitate insightful class discussion
  • “Spotlight on Climate Change” feature highlights special topics including the 2015 Paris Agreement, community resilience, cutting-edge research groups, and more
  • Easy-to-read, jargon-free language puts the focus on the content, not the writing