Skip Navigation

Button that takes you back to the home page. Button that takes you to the teacher pages. Button that takes you to the modules and activities page. Button that takes you to the glossary page. Button that takes you to the related links page. Button that takes you to the references page. Button that takes you to the Problem Based Learning model page. Image map of some Global Climate Change puzzle pieces.  Please have someone assist you with this.

Button that takes you to the Overview page.
Button that takes you to the Carbon Dioxide page.
Image that says Temperature.
Button that takes you to the Precipitation page.
Button that takes you to the Wheat Yield page.

Image of Earth System Science Education Alliance logo that links to the Earth System Science page.

 

Image of Earth's Spheres logo that links to the Earth's Spheres page.

For more information on changes in global temperature, visit: EPA Global Warming Site: Trends

 

 

Remote Sensing: Temperature

Temperature is a major part of climate. Temperature controls many things, including the availability of water. In fact, a temperature increase of 5 to10 F (3 to 6 C) in the United States could result in a decrease in soil moisture of 10 to 30 percent during the summer. A decrease in soil moisture could cause natural vegetation and crops to dry out. This could severely impact the environment as well as the economy. 

Since temperature is so important, many scientists have been studying it. They examine past values and create climate models to predict future trends in temperature change. Visit VEMAP Trend Maps to examine maps of historical temperature data and predicted temperature trends.

Scientists estimate that mean global temperatures have increased by 0.5 to 1.0 F (0.3 to 0.6 C) in the last 100 years. Note that this is an increase in the "mean global" temperature. "Mean global temperature" refers to the average of all of the temperature changes from throughout the world. In reality, the temperature change has not been consistent across the planet. In fact, the temperature change has not been consistent across the United States (see map below). In the last 50 years, temperatures in the western United States have warmed. At the same time, temperatures in the eastern United States have cooled. The cooling in the southeastern United States may be due to excessive sulfates in the air. Sulfates can scatter the sun's light before it reaches the earth's surface. Without heat from the sun, the earth's surface will cool.

Image of a map that displays temperature trends across the United States over the last 100 years.  Please have someone assist you with this.The map at the right displays temperature trends across the United States over the last 100 years. Red circles represent temperature increases, while blue circles represent temperature decreases. Large circles represent a 3C change, medium circles represent a 2C change, and small circles represent a 1C change. Map courtesy of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The increase in temperature has not been consistent through time, either. Some periods during the year have experienced greater and faster temperature increases than others. Average winter temperatures in areas between 50 and 70 North latitude have been increasing quickly, while summer
temperatures have hardly changed. Rates of temperature change even vary according to the time of day. Throughout the world, nighttime lows are rising about twice as quickly as daytime highs. 

Changes in temperature appear to be closely related to concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The figure below displays the concentration of atmospheric CO2 as well as temperature changes observed during the past 160 thousand years and predicted during the next 10 thousand years.

Image of a graph showing the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (ppmv) and temperature change (C) observed during the past 160 thousand years and predicted during the next 10 thousand years.  Please have someone assist you with this.

Graph: Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (ppmv) and temperature change (C) observed during the past 160 thousand years and predicted during the next 10 thousand years. Historical carbon dioxide data was collected from Antarctic ice cores; temperature changes through time are relative to the present temperature. Graph adapted from the Whitehouse Initiative on Global Climate Change. 

As concentrations of CO2 in the air decrease, so does the temperature. As concentrations of CO2 in the air increase, so does the temperature. Concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are expected to increase dramatically in the future. Even if emissions of CO2 stay the same as they are now, concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will increase to 700 ppm by 2100 (see Remote Sensing: Carbon Dioxide. As a result, mean global temperatures will increase by 3.5 F (1.9 C) over the next 100 years. 

 

Overview ..|.. Carbon Dioxide ..|.. Temperature ..|.. Precipitation ..|.. Wheat
Glossary
..|.. Related Links ..|.. References  |.. PBL Model

Home ..|.. Teacher Pages ..|.. Modules & Activities

Button that takes you back to the Global Climate Change main page.

HTML code by Chris Kreger
Maintained by ETE Team
Last updated November 10, 2004

Some images 2004 www.clipart.com

Privacy Statement and Copyright 1997-2004 by Wheeling Jesuit University/NASA-supported Classroom of the Future. All rights reserved.

Center for Educational Technologies, Circuit Board/Apple graphic logo, and COTF Classroom of the Future logo are registered trademarks of Wheeling Jesuit University.