What is Climate Change?


Climate change is the major changes in temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, etc, that occur over several decades or longer.

It's important to understand the difference between Climate and Weather

  • Weather - refers to the local condition at any given time.
           December 18th in Champaign was a high of 8oF with a low of -2oF with 0.1" of ice precipitation.
  • Climate  - refers to the long-term average from seasonal out to centuries and millennia.
           Over the past 120 years, precipitation and average temperature for December
           have increased in Champaign.


 Check out the climate trends in your area on the NOAA website




The average temperature on Earth has risen 1.5oF in the past 100 years.

97% of climate scientists attribute this to human activity.

Temperature is projected to rise between 0.5o and 8.6oF in the next 100 years.


What effects have been observed?

  • glaciers are retreating (melting faster than they reform)
  • ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier
  • plant and animal ranges have shifted
  • trees are flowering sooner
  • sea levels have risen
  • surface temperature has warmed
  • ocean temperatures have warmed
  • increase in frequency of intense rainfall events


How does this affect me?

In addition to impacts on the environment, some possible effects on human health include:

  • Increased pollen season
  • Increased exposure to diseases carried by insects, arthropods, and rodents, such as lyme disease.
  • Decrease in drinking water quality
  • Decrease in air quality
  • Property damage from flooding

Click to explore more about the impacts

What evidence is there for climate change?

  • Sea levels have risen 17cm in the past century
  • Surface temperatures have risen even though solar output has declined
  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased
  • The acidity of ocean water has increased by 30%
  • Ocean temperatures have risen
  • Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets have decreased
  • Arctic Sea Ice has declined

Click to explore the evidence



NASA graph of CO2.jpeg




At left CO2 emissions level off at about 550 parts per million (ppm) toward the end of the century, the average temperature of the continental U.S. would increase 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. At right CO2 emissions rise to about 800 ppm (roughly double the 2013 level), temperatures would be, on average, 8 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than they were at the end of the 20th century. From NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

What about the future?

Based on scientific predictions:


Visit the NASA Global Climate Change website for more details