Search the United Nations
- What Is Climate Change
- Myth Busters
- Renewable Energy
- Finance & Justice
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Paris Agreement
- Climate Ambition Summit 2023
- Climate Conferences
- Press Material
- Communications Tips
Causes and Effects of Climate Change
Fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.
As greenhouse gas emissions blanket the Earth, they trap the sun’s heat. This leads to global warming and climate change. The world is now warming faster than at any point in recorded history. Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.
Causes of Climate Change
Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels causes a large chunk of global emissions. Most electricity is still generated by burning coal, oil, or gas, which produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – powerful greenhouse gases that blanket the Earth and trap the sun’s heat. Globally, a bit more than a quarter of electricity comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources which, as opposed to fossil fuels, emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air.
Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes, and other goods. Mining and other industrial processes also release gases, as does the construction industry. Machines used in the manufacturing process often run on coal, oil, or gas; and some materials, like plastics, are made from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels. The manufacturing industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Cutting down forests
Cutting down forests to create farms or pastures, or for other reasons, causes emissions, since trees, when they are cut, release the carbon they have been storing. Each year approximately 12 million hectares of forest are destroyed. Since forests absorb carbon dioxide, destroying them also limits nature’s ability to keep emissions out of the atmosphere. Deforestation, together with agriculture and other land use changes, is responsible for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Most cars, trucks, ships, and planes run on fossil fuels. That makes transportation a major contributor of greenhouse gases, especially carbon-dioxide emissions. Road vehicles account for the largest part, due to the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. But emissions from ships and planes continue to grow. Transport accounts for nearly one quarter of global energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions. And trends point to a significant increase in energy use for transport over the coming years.
Producing food causes emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases in various ways, including through deforestation and clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, digestion by cows and sheep, the production and use of fertilizers and manure for growing crops, and the use of energy to run farm equipment or fishing boats, usually with fossil fuels. All this makes food production a major contributor to climate change. And greenhouse gas emissions also come from packaging and distributing food.
Globally, residential and commercial buildings consume over half of all electricity. As they continue to draw on coal, oil, and natural gas for heating and cooling, they emit significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions. Growing energy demand for heating and cooling, with rising air-conditioner ownership, as well as increased electricity consumption for lighting, appliances, and connected devices, has contributed to a rise in energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions from buildings in recent years.
Consuming too much
Your home and use of power, how you move around, what you eat and how much you throw away all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. So does the consumption of goods such as clothing, electronics, and plastics. A large chunk of global greenhouse gas emissions are linked to private households. Our lifestyles have a profound impact on our planet. The wealthiest bear the greatest responsibility: the richest 1 per cent of the global population combined account for more greenhouse gas emissions than the poorest 50 per cent.
Based on various UN sources
Effects of Climate Change
As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. The last decade, 2011-2020, is the warmest on record. Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one. Nearly all land areas are seeing more hot days and heat waves. Higher temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and make working outdoors more difficult. Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter. Temperatures in the Arctic have warmed at least twice as fast as the global average.
More severe storms
Destructive storms have become more intense and more frequent in many regions. As temperatures rise, more moisture evaporates, which exacerbates extreme rainfall and flooding, causing more destructive storms. The frequency and extent of tropical storms is also affected by the warming ocean. Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons feed on warm waters at the ocean surface. Such storms often destroy homes and communities, causing deaths and huge economic losses.
Climate change is changing water availability, making it scarcer in more regions. Global warming exacerbates water shortages in already water-stressed regions and is leading to an increased risk of agricultural droughts affecting crops, and ecological droughts increasing the vulnerability of ecosystems. Droughts can also stir destructive sand and dust storms that can move billions of tons of sand across continents. Deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food. Many people now face the threat of not having enough water on a regular basis.
A warming, rising ocean
The ocean soaks up most of the heat from global warming. The rate at which the ocean is warming strongly increased over the past two decades, across all depths of the ocean. As the ocean warms, its volume increases since water expands as it gets warmer. Melting ice sheets also cause sea levels to rise, threatening coastal and island communities. In addition, the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, keeping it from the atmosphere. But more carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, which endangers marine life and coral reefs.
Loss of species
Climate change poses risks to the survival of species on land and in the ocean. These risks increase as temperatures climb. Exacerbated by climate change, the world is losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history. One million species are at risk of becoming extinct within the next few decades. Forest fires, extreme weather, and invasive pests and diseases are among many threats related to climate change. Some species will be able to relocate and survive, but others will not.
Not enough food
Changes in the climate and increases in extreme weather events are among the reasons behind a global rise in hunger and poor nutrition. Fisheries, crops, and livestock may be destroyed or become less productive. With the ocean becoming more acidic, marine resources that feed billions of people are at risk. Changes in snow and ice cover in many Arctic regions have disrupted food supplies from herding, hunting, and fishing. Heat stress can diminish water and grasslands for grazing, causing declining crop yields and affecting livestock.
More health risks
Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. Climate impacts are already harming health, through air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, pressures on mental health, and increased hunger and poor nutrition in places where people cannot grow or find sufficient food. Every year, environmental factors take the lives of around 13 million people. Changing weather patterns are expanding diseases, and extreme weather events increase deaths and make it difficult for health care systems to keep up.
Poverty and displacement
Climate change increases the factors that put and keep people in poverty. Floods may sweep away urban slums, destroying homes and livelihoods. Heat can make it difficult to work in outdoor jobs. Water scarcity may affect crops. Over the past decade (2010–2019), weather-related events displaced an estimated 23.1 million people on average each year, leaving many more vulnerable to poverty. Most refugees come from countries that are most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Learn more about...
What is climate change?
Our climate 101 offers a quick take on the how and why of climate change.
What is “net zero”, why is it important, and is the world on track to reach it?
Initiatives for action
Read about global initiatives aimed at speeding up the pace of climate action.
Earth is warming up, and humans are at least partially to blame. The causes, effects, and complexities of global warming are important to understand so that we can fight for the health of our planet.
Earth Science, Climatology
Tennessee Power Plant
Ash spews from a coal-fueled power plant in New Johnsonville, Tennessee, United States.
Photograph by Emory Kristof/ National Geographic
Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature. Though this warming trend has been going on for a long time, its pace has significantly increased in the last hundred years due to the burning of fossil fuels . As the human population has increased, so has the volume of fossil fuels burned. Fossil fuels include coal, oil, and natural gas, and burning them causes what is known as the “greenhouse effect” in Earth’s atmosphere.
The greenhouse effect is when the sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere, but when that heat is reflected off the surface cannot escape back into space. Gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels prevent the heat from leaving the atmosphere. These greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide , chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor , methane , and nitrous oxide . The excess heat in the atmosphere has caused the average global temperature to rise overtime, otherwise known as global warming.
Global warming has presented another issue called climate change. Sometimes these phrases are used interchangeably, however, they are different. Climate change refers to changes in weather patterns and growing seasons around the world. It also refers to sea level rise caused by the expansion of warmer seas and melting ice sheets and glaciers . Global warming causes climate change, which poses a serious threat to life on Earth in the forms of widespread flooding and extreme weather. Scientists continue to study global warming and its impact on Earth.
The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.
Program specialists, last updated.
December 14, 2022
For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service . If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact [email protected] for more information and to obtain a license. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. She or he will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.
If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.
Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service .
Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.
25,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. Take the first step today
Here’s your new year gift, one app for all your, study abroad needs, start your journey, track your progress, grow with the community and so much more.
An OTP has been sent to your registered mobile no. Please verify
Thanks for your comment !
Our team will review it before it's shown to our readers.
Essay on Global Warming
- Updated on
- Apr 4, 2023
Being able to write an essay is an integral part of mastering any language. Essays form an integral part of many academic and scholastic exams like SAT , and UPSC amongst many others. It is a crucial evaluative part of English proficiency tests as well like IELTS , TOEFL , etc. Major essays are meant to emphasize issues of concern that can have significant consequences on the world. To understand the concept of Global Warming and its causes and effects, we must first examine the many factors that influence the planet’s temperature and what this implies for the world’s future. Here’s an unbiased look at Global Warming and other essential related topics.
This Blog Includes:
What is climate change, what is global warming, what are the causes of global warming, solutions for global warming, effects of global warming, essay on global warming paragraph in 100 – 150 words, essay on global warming in 250 words, essay on global warming in 500 words, essay on global warming upsc, climate change and global warming essay, tips to write an essay.
Since the industrial and scientific revolutions, Earth’s resources have been gradually depleted. Furthermore, the start of the world’s population’s exponential expansion is particularly hard on the environment. Simply put, as the population’s need for consumption grows, so does the use of natural resources, as well as the waste generated by that consumption.
Climate change has been one of the most significant long-term consequences of this. Climate change is more than just the rise or fall of global temperatures; it also affects rain cycles, wind patterns, cyclone frequencies, sea levels, and other factors. It has an impact on all major life groupings on the planet.
Global warming is the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century, primarily due to the greenhouse gases released by people burning fossil fuels. The greenhouse gases consist of methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, carbon dioxide, water vapour, and chlorofluorocarbons. The weather prediction has been becoming more complex with every passing year, with seasons more indistinguishable, and the general temperatures hotter. The number of hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, floods, etc., has risen steadily since the onset of the 21st century. The supervillain behind all these changes is Global Warming. The name is quite self-explanatory; it means the rise in the temperature of the Earth.
According to recent studies, many scientists believe the following are the primary four causes of global warming:
- Greenhouse emissions
- Carbon emissions per capita
Extreme global warming is causing natural disasters , which can be seen all around us. One of the causes of global warming is the extreme release of greenhouse gases that become trapped on the earth’s surface, causing the temperature to rise. Similarly, volcanoes contribute to global warming by spewing excessive CO2 into the atmosphere.
The increase in population is one of the major causes of Global Warming. This increase in population also leads to increased air pollution . Automobiles emit a lot of CO2, which remains in the atmosphere. This increase in population is also causing deforestation, which contributes to global warming.
The earth’s surface emits energy into the atmosphere in the form of heat, keeping the balance with the incoming energy. Global warming depletes the ozone layer, bringing about the end of the world. There is a clear indication that increased global warming will result in the extinction of all life on Earth’s surface.
Of course, industries and multinational conglomerates emit more carbon than the average citizen. Nonetheless, activism and community effort are the only viable ways to slow the worsening effects of global warming. Furthermore, at the state or government level, world leaders must develop concrete plans and step-by-step programmes to ensure that no further harm is done to the environment in general.
Although we are almost too late to slow the rate of global warming, finding the right solution is critical. Everyone, from individuals to governments, must work together to find a solution to Global Warming. Some of the factors to consider are pollution control, population growth, and the use of natural resources.
One very important contribution you can make is to reduce your use of plastic. Plastic is the primary cause of global warming, and recycling it takes years. Another factor to consider is deforestation, which will aid in the control of global warming. More tree planting should be encouraged to green the environment. Certain rules should also govern industrialization. Building industries in green zones that affect plants and species should be prohibited.
Global warming is a real problem that many people want to disprove to gain political advantage. However, as global citizens, we must ensure that only the truth is presented in the media.
This decade has seen a significant impact from global warming. The two most common phenomena observed are glacier retreat and arctic shrinkage. Glaciers are rapidly melting. These are clear manifestations of climate change.
Another significant effect of global warming is the rise in sea level. Flooding is occurring in low-lying areas as a result of sea-level rise. Many countries have experienced extreme weather conditions. Every year, we have unusually heavy rain, extreme heat and cold, wildfires, and other natural disasters.
Similarly, as global warming continues, marine life is being severely impacted. This is causing the extinction of marine species as well as other problems. Furthermore, changes are expected in coral reefs, which will face extinction in the coming years. These effects will intensify in the coming years, effectively halting species expansion. Furthermore, humans will eventually feel the negative effects of Global Warming.
Sample Essays on Global Warming
Here are some sample essays on Global Warming:
Global Warming is caused by the increase of carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere and is a result of human activities that have been causing harm to our environment for the past few centuries now. Global Warming is something that can’t be ignored and steps have to be taken to tackle the situation globally. The average temperature is constantly rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the last few years. The best method to prevent future damage to the earth, cutting down more forests should be banned and Afforestation should be encouraged. Start by planting trees near your homes and offices, participate in events, and teach the importance of planting trees. It is impossible to undo the damage but it is possible to stop further harm.
Over a long period, it is observed that the rising temperatures of the earth. This affected wildlife, animals, humans, and every living organism on earth. Glaciers have been melting, and many countries have started water shortages, flooding, and erosion and all this is because of global warming. No one can be blamed for global warming except for humans. Human activities such as gases released from power plants, transportation, and deforestation have increased gases such as carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere. The main question is how can we control the current situation and build a better world for future generations. It starts with little steps by every individual. Start using cloth bags made from sustainable materials for all shopping purposes, instead of using high-watt lights use energy-efficient bulbs, switch off the electricity, don’t waste water, abolish deforestation and encourage planting more trees. Shift the use of energy from petroleum or other fossil fuels to wind and solar energy. Instead of throwing out the old clothes donate them to someone so that it is recycled. Donate old books, don’t waste paper. Above all, spread awareness about global warming. Every little thing a person does towards saving the earth will contribute in big or small amounts. We must learn that 1% effort is better than no effort. Pledge to take care of mother nature and speak up about global warming.
Global warming isn’t a prediction, it is happening! A person denying it or unaware of it is in the most simple terms complicit. Do we have another planet to live on? Unfortunately, we have been bestowed with this one planet only that can sustain life yet over the years we have turned a blind eye to the plight it is in. Global warming is not an abstract concept but a global phenomenon occurring ever so slowly even at this moment.
Global Warming is a phenomenon that is occurring every minute resulting in a gradual increase in the Earth’s overall climate. Brought about by greenhouse gases that trap the solar radiation in the atmosphere, global warming can change the entire map of the earth, displacing areas, flooding many countries, and destroying multiple lifeforms. Extreme weather is a direct consequence of global warming but it is not an exhaustive consequence. There are virtually limitless effects of global warming which are all harmful to life on earth.
The sea level is increasing by 0.12 inches per year worldwide. This is happening because of the melting of polar ice caps because of global warming. This has increased the frequency of floods in many lowland areas and has caused damage to coral reefs. The Arctic is one of the worst-hit areas affected by global warming. Air quality has been adversely affected and the acidity of the seawater has also increased causing severe damage to marine life forms. Severe natural disasters are brought about by global warming which has had dire effects on life and property.
As long as mankind produces greenhouse gases, global warming will continue to accelerate. The consequences are felt at a much smaller scale which will increase to become drastic shortly. The power to save the day lies in the hands of humans, the need is to seize the day. Energy consumption should be reduced on an individual basis. Fuel-efficient cars and other electronics should be encouraged to reduce the wastage of energy sources. This will also improve air quality and reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is an evil that can only be defeated when fought together.
It is better late than never. If we all take steps today, we will have a much brighter future tomorrow. Global warming is the bane of our existence and various policies have come up worldwide to fight it but that is not enough. The actual difference is made when we work at an individual level to fight it. Understanding its import now is crucial before it becomes an irrevocable mistake. Exterminating global warming is of utmost importance and each one of us is as responsible for it as the next.
Always hear about global warming everywhere, but do we know what it is? The evil of the worst form, global warming is a phenomenon that can affect life more fatally. Global warming refers to the increase in the earth’s temperature as a result of various human activities. The planet is gradually getting hotter and threatening the existence of lifeforms on it. Despite being relentlessly studied and researched, global warming for the majority of the population remains an abstract concept of science. It is this concept that over the years has culminated in making global warming a stark reality and not a concept covered in books.
Global warming is not caused by one sole reason that can be curbed. There are multifarious factors that cause global warming most of which are a part of an individual’s daily existence. Burning of fuels for cooking, in vehicles, and for other conventional uses, a large amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and methane amongst many others is produced which accelerates global warming. Rampant deforestation also results in global warming as lesser green cover results in an increased presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is a greenhouse gas.
Finding a solution to global warming is of immediate importance. Global warming is a phenomenon that has to be fought unitedly. Planting more trees can be the first step that can be taken toward warding off the severe consequences of global warming. Increasing the green cover will result in regulating the carbon cycle. There should be a shift from using nonrenewable energy to renewable energy such as wind or solar energy which causes less pollution and thereby hinder the acceleration of global warming. Reducing energy needs at an individual level and not wasting energy in any form is the most important step to be taken against global warming.
The warning bells are tolling to awaken us from the deep slumber of complacency we have slipped into. Humans can fight against nature and it is high time we acknowledged that. With all our scientific progress and technological inventions, fighting off the negative effects of global warming is implausible. We have to remember that we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors but borrow it from our future generations and the responsibility lies on our shoulders to bequeath them a healthy planet for life to exist.
One good action in a day to combat the heat.
Global Warming and Climate Change are two sides of the same coin. Both are interrelated with each other and are two issues of major concern worldwide. Greenhouse gases released such as carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere cause Global Warming which leads to climate change. Black holes have started to form in the ozone layer that protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. Human activities have created climate change and global warming. Industrial waste and fumes are the major contributors to global warming. Another factor affecting is the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and also one of the reasons for climate change. Global warming has resulted in shrinking mountain glaciers in Antarctica, Greenland, and the Arctic and causing climate change. Switching from the use of fossil fuels to energy sources like wind and solar. When buying any electronic appliance buy the best quality with energy savings stars. Don’t waste water and encourage rainwater harvesting in your community.
Writing an effective essay needs skills that few people possess and even fewer know how to implement. While writing an essay can be an assiduous task that can be unnerving at times, some key pointers can be inculcated to draft a successful essay. These involve focusing on the structure of the essay, planning it out well, and emphasizing crucial details. Mentioned below are some pointers that can help you write better structure and more thoughtful essays that will get across to your readers:
- Prepare an outline for the essay to ensure continuity and relevance and no break in the structure of the essay
- Decide on a thesis statement that will form the basis of your essay. It will be the point of your essay and help readers understand your contention
- Follow the structure of an introduction, a detailed body followed by a conclusion so that the readers can comprehend the essay in a particular manner without any dissonance.
- Make your beginning catchy and include solutions in your conclusion to make the essay insightful and lucrative to read
- Reread before putting it out and add your flair to the essay to make it more personal and thereby unique and intriguing for readers
Ans. Both natural and man-made factors contribute to global warming. The natural one also contains methane gas, volcanic eruptions, and greenhouse gases. Deforestation, mining, livestock raising, burning fossil fuels, and other man-made causes are next.
Ans. The government and the general public can work together to stop global warming. Trees must be planted more often, and deforestation must be prohibited. Auto usage needs to be curbed, and recycling needs to be promoted.
Ans. Switching to renewable energy sources, adopting sustainable farming, transportation, and energy methods, and conserving water and other natural resources.
We hope this blog gave you an idea about how to write and present an essay on global warming that put forth your opinions. The skill of writing an essay come in handy when appearing for standardized language tests. Thinking of taking one soon? Leverage Edu provides the best online test prep for the same via Leverage Live . Register today to know more!
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Contact no. *
This was really a good essay on global warming… There has been used many unic words..and I really liked it!!!Seriously I had been looking for a essay about Global warming just like this…
Thank you for the comment!
I want to learn how to write essay writing so I joined this page.This page is very useful for everyone.
Hi, we are glad that we could help you to write essays. We have a beginner’s guide to write essays ( https://leverageedu.com/blog/essay-writing/ ) and we think this might help you.
It is not good , to have global warming in our earth .So we all have to afforestation program on all the world.
thank you so much
Very educative , helpful and it is really going to strength my English knowledge to structure my essay in future
Thank you for the comment, please follow our newsletter to get more insights on studying abroad and exams!
Global warming is the increase in 𝓽𝓱𝓮 ᴀᴠᴇʀᴀɢᴇ ᴛᴇᴍᴘᴇʀᴀᴛᴜʀᴇs ᴏғ ᴇᴀʀᴛʜ🌎 ᴀᴛᴍᴏsᴘʜᴇʀᴇ
8 Universities with higher ROI than IITs and IIMs
Grab this one-time opportunity to download this ebook
How would you describe this article ?
Please rate this article
We would like to hear more.
Connect With Us
25,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. take the first step today..
Resend OTP in
Need help with?
UK, Canada, US & More
IELTS, GRE, GMAT & More
Scholarship, Loans & Forex
20,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. Take the first step today.
Which English test are you planning to take?
Which academic test are you planning to take.
Not Sure yet
When are you planning to take the exam?
Already booked my exam slot
Within 2 Months
Want to learn about the test
Which Degree do you wish to pursue?
When do you want to start studying abroad.
What is your budget to study abroad?
Causes and Effects of Climate Change
Glaciers are melting , sea levels are rising, cloud forests are dying , and wildlife is scrambling to keep pace. It has become clear that humans have caused most of the past century's warming by releasing heat-trapping gases as we power our modern lives. Called greenhouse gases, their levels are higher now than at any time in the last 800,000 years .
We often call the result global warming, but it is causing a set of changes to the Earth's climate, or long-term weather patterns, that varies from place to place. While many people think of global warming and climate change as synonyms , scientists use “climate change” when describing the complex shifts now affecting our planet’s weather and climate systems—in part because some areas actually get cooler in the short term .
Climate change encompasses not only rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events , shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas , and a range of other impacts. All of those changes are emerging as humans continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, changing the rhythms of climate that all living things have come to rely on.
What will we do—what can we do—to slow this human-caused warming? How will we cope with the changes we've already set into motion? While we struggle to figure it all out, the fate of the Earth as we know it—coasts, forests, farms, and snow-capped mountains—hangs in the balance.
An iceberg melts in the waters off Antarctica. Climate change has accelerated the rate of ice loss across the continent.
Understanding the greenhouse effect
The "greenhouse effect" is the warming that happens when certain gases in Earth's atmosphere trap heat . These gases let in light but keep heat from escaping, like the glass walls of a greenhouse, hence the name.
Sunlight shines onto the Earth's surface, where the energy is absorbed and then radiate back into the atmosphere as heat. In the atmosphere, greenhouse gas molecules trap some of the heat, and the rest escapes into space. The more greenhouse gases concentrate in the atmosphere, the more heat gets locked up in the molecules.
Scientists have known about the greenhouse effect since 1824, when Joseph Fourier calculated that the Earth would be much colder if it had no atmosphere. This natural greenhouse effect is what keeps the Earth's climate livable. Without it, the Earth's surface would be an average of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) cooler.
In 1895, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius discovered that humans could enhance the greenhouse effect by making carbon dioxide , a greenhouse gas. He kicked off 100 years of climate research that has given us a sophisticated understanding of global warming.
Levels of greenhouse gases have gone up and down over the Earth's history, but they had been fairly constant for the past few thousand years. Global average temperatures had also stayed fairly constant over that time— until the past 150 years . Through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities that have emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases, particularly over the past few decades, humans are now enhancing the greenhouse effect and warming Earth significantly, and in ways that promise many effects , scientists warn.
Aren't temperature changes natural?
Human activity isn't the only factor that affects Earth's climate. Volcanic eruptions and variations in solar radiation from sunspots, solar wind, and the Earth's position relative to the sun also play a role. So do large-scale weather patterns such as El Niño .
But climate models that scientists use to monitor Earth’s temperatures take those factors into account. Changes in solar radiation levels as well as minute particles suspended in the atmosphere from volcanic eruptions , for example, have contributed only about two percent to the recent warming effect. The balance comes from greenhouse gases and other human-caused factors, such as land use change .
The short timescale of this recent warming is singular as well. Volcanic eruptions , for example, emit particles that temporarily cool the Earth's surface. But their effect lasts just a few years. Events like El Niño also work on fairly short and predictable cycles. On the other hand, the types of global temperature fluctuations that have contributed to ice ages occur on a cycle of hundreds of thousands of years.
For thousands of years now, emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere have been balanced out by greenhouse gases that are naturally absorbed. As a result, greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures have been fairly stable, which has allowed human civilization to flourish within a consistent climate.
Now, humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution. Changes that have historically taken thousands of years are now happening over the course of decades .
Why does this matter?
The rapid rise in greenhouse gases is a problem because it’s changing the climate faster than some living things can adapt to. Also, a new and more unpredictable climate poses unique challenges to all life.
Historically, Earth's climate has regularly shifted between temperatures like those we see today and temperatures cold enough to cover much of North America and Europe with ice. The difference between average global temperatures today and during those ice ages is only about 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), and the swings have tended to happen slowly, over hundreds of thousands of years.
But with concentrations of greenhouse gases rising, Earth's remaining ice sheets such as Greenland and Antarctica are starting to melt too . That extra water could raise sea levels significantly, and quickly. By 2050, sea levels are predicted to rise between one and 2.3 feet as glaciers melt.
As the mercury rises, the climate can change in unexpected ways. In addition to sea levels rising, weather can become more extreme . This means more intense major storms, more rain followed by longer and drier droughts—a challenge for growing crops—changes in the ranges in which plants and animals can live, and loss of water supplies that have historically come from glaciers.
Read This Next
- History Magazine
Meet 5 of the fiercest queens from medieval times
- History & Culture
We still don't know why humans started drinking cow's milk
Can great white sharks be friends.
There’s only one offshore fish farm in the U.S. Why?
- Perpetual Planet
History & Culture
- Paid Content for Advertiser
- Mind, Body, Wonder
Subscriber Exclusive Content
Why are people so dang obsessed with mars, how viruses shape our world, the era of greyhound racing in the u.s. is coming to an end, see how people have imagined life on mars through history, see how nasa’s new mars rover will explore the red planet.
- Your US State Privacy Rights
- Interest-Based Ads
- About Nielsen Measurement
- Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information
- Nat Geo Home
- Attend a Live Event
- Book a Trip
- Inspire Your Kids
- Shop Nat Geo
- Visit the D.C. Museum
- Learn About Our Impact
- Support Our Mission
- Advertise With Us
- Customer Service
- Renew Subscription
- Manage Your Subscription
- Work at Nat Geo
- Sign Up for Our Newsletters
- Contribute to Protect the Planet
Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society Copyright © 2015-2023 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved
The Causes of Climate Change
- The greenhouse effect is essential to life on Earth, but human-made emissions in the atmosphere are trapping and slowing heat loss to space.
- Five key greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapor.
- While the Sun has played a role in past climate changes, the evidence shows the current warming cannot be explained by the Sun.
Increasing Greenhouses Gases Are Warming the Planet
Scientists attribute the global warming trend observed since the mid-20 th century to the human expansion of the "greenhouse effect" 1 — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.
Life on Earth depends on energy coming from the Sun. About half the light energy reaching Earth's atmosphere passes through the air and clouds to the surface, where it is absorbed and radiated in the form of infrared heat. About 90% of this heat is then absorbed by greenhouse gases and re-radiated, slowing heat loss to space.
Human Activity Is the Cause of Increased Greenhouse Gas Concentrations
Over the last century, burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). This increase happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO 2 . To a lesser extent, clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gases.
The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by nearly 50% since 1750 2 . This increase is due to human activities, because scientists can see a distinctive isotopic fingerprint in the atmosphere.
In its Sixth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, composed of scientific experts from countries all over the world, concluded that it is unequivocal that the increase of CO 2 , methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere over the industrial era is the result of human activities and that human influence is the principal driver of many changes observed across the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere.
"Since systematic scientific assessments began in the 1970s, the influence of human activity on the warming of the climate system has evolved from theory to established fact." - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The panel's AR6 Working Group I (WGI) Summary for Policymakers report is online at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/ .
Evidence Shows That Current Global Warming Cannot Be Explained by Solar Irradiance
Scientists use a metric called Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) to measure the changes in energy the Earth receives from the Sun. TSI incorporates the 11-year solar cycle and solar flares/storms from the Sun's surface.
Studies show that solar variability has played a role in past climate changes. For example, a decrease in solar activity coupled with increased volcanic activity helped trigger the Little Ice Age.
But several lines of evidence show that current global warming cannot be explained by changes in energy from the Sun:
- Since 1750, the average amount of energy from the Sun either remained constant or decreased slightly 3 .
- If a more active Sun caused the warming, scientists would expect warmer temperatures in all layers of the atmosphere. Instead, they have observed a cooling in the upper atmosphere and a warming at the surface and lower parts of the atmosphere. That's because greenhouse gases are slowing heat loss from the lower atmosphere.
- Climate models that include solar irradiance changes can’t reproduce the observed temperature trend over the past century or more without including a rise in greenhouse gases.
Earth Science in Action
More to Explore
Ask nasa climate.
IPCC 6 th Assessment Report, WG1, Summary for Policy Makers, Sections A, “ The Current State of the Climate ”
IPCC 6 th Assessment Report, WG1, Technical Summary, Sections TS.1.2, TS.2.1 and TS.3.1
P. Friedlingstein, et al., 2022: “Global Carbon Budget 2022”, Earth System Science Data ( 11 Nov 2022): 4811–4900. https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-14-4811-2022
IPCC 6 th Assessment Report, WG1, Chapter 2, Section 2.2.1, “ Solar and Orbital Forcing ” IPCC 6 th Assessment Report, WG1, Chapter 7, Sections 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, Figure 7.6, “ Solar ” M. Lockwood and W.T. Ball, Placing limits on long-term variations in quiet-Sun irradiance and their contribution to total solar irradiance and solar radiative forcing of climate,” Proceedings of the Royal Society A , 476, issue 2228 (24 June 2020): https://doi 10.1098/rspa.2020.0077
Recent News & Features
Images of Change
Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad?
Short answer: Yes. Even a seemingly slight average temperature rise is enough to cause a dramatic transformation of our planet.
The Missouri River encroaches on homes in Sioux City, Iowa, during a 2011 flood
- Share this page block
Five and a half degrees Fahrenheit. It may not sound like much—perhaps the difference between wearing a sweater and not wearing one on an early-spring day. But for the world in which we live—which climate experts project will be at least 5.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2100 , relative to pre-industrial levels (1850–1900), should global emissions continue on their current path—this small rise will have grave consequences. These impacts are already becoming apparent for every ecosystem and living thing, including us.
Human influences are the number one cause of global warming , especially the carbon pollution we cause by burning fossil fuels and the pollution capture we prevent by destroying forests. The carbon dioxide, methane, soot, and other pollutants we release into the atmosphere act like a blanket, trapping the sun's heat and causing the planet to warm. Evidence shows that the 2010s were hotter than any other decade on record —and every decade since the 1960s has averaged hotter than the previous one. This warming is altering the earth's climate system, including its land, atmosphere, oceans, and ice, in far-reaching ways.
More frequent and severe weather
Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, retain, and unleash more water, changing weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2021, there were 20 weather and climate disaster events in the United States—including severe storms, floods, drought, and wildfires—that individually caused at least $1 billion in losses . “Disasters in 2021 had a staggering total price tag of $145 billion—and that’s an underestimate because it excludes health damages,” says Vijay Limaye , senior scientist at NRDC. “These climate and weather disasters endanger people across the country throughout the entire year. In fact, more than 4 in 10 Americans live in a county that was struck by climate-related disasters in 2021.”
The increasing number of droughts, intense storms, and floods we're seeing as our warming atmosphere holds—and then dumps—more moisture poses risks to public health and safety too. Prolonged dry spells mean more than just scorched lawns. Drought conditions jeopardize access to clean drinking water, fuel out-of-control wildfires, and result in dust storms, extreme heat events, and flash flooding in the States. Elsewhere around the world, lack of water is a leading cause of death and serious disease and is contributing to crop failure. At the opposite end of the spectrum, heavier rains cause streams, rivers, and lakes to overflow, which damages life and property, contaminates drinking water, creates hazardous-material spills, and promotes mold infestation and unhealthy air. A warmer, wetter world is also a boon for foodborne and waterborne illnesses and disease-carrying insects, such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
Higher death rates
Today's scientists point to climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. It's a threat that impacts all of us—especially children, the elderly, low-income communities, and minorities—and in a variety of direct and indirect ways. As temperatures spike, so does the incidence of illness, emergency room visits, and death.
"There are more hot days in places where people aren't used to it," Limaye says. "They don't have air-conditioning or can't afford it. One or two days isn't a big deal. But four days straight where temperatures don't go down, even at night, leads to severe health consequences." In the United States, hundreds of heat-related deaths occur each year due to direct impacts and the indirect effects of heat-exacerbated, life-threatening illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Indeed, extreme heat kills more Americans each year, on average, than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and lightning combined.
Rising temperatures also worsen air pollution by increasing ground-level ozone smog, which is created when pollution from cars, factories, and other sources react to sunlight and heat. Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog, and the hotter things get, the more of it we have. Dirtier air is linked to higher hospital admission rates and higher death rates for asthmatics. It worsens the health of people suffering from cardiac or pulmonary disease. And warmer temperatures also significantly increase airborne pollen , which is bad news for those who suffer from hay fever and other allergies.
Higher wildlife extinction rates
As humans, we face a host of challenges, but we're certainly not the only ones catching heat. As land and sea undergo rapid changes, the animals that inhabit them are doomed to disappear if they don't adapt quickly enough. Some will make it, and some won't. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Sixth Assessment Report , the risk of species extinction increases steeply with rises in global temperature —with invertebrates (specifically pollinators) and flowering plants being some of the most vulnerable. Moreover, a 2015 study showed that vertebrate species (animals with backbones, like fish, birds, mammals , amphibians, and reptiles) are also disappearing more than 100 times faster than the natural rate of extinction, due to human-driven climate change, pollution, and deforestation.
More acidic oceans
The earth's marine ecosystems are under pressure as a result of climate change. Oceans are becoming more acidic, due in large part to their absorption of some of our excess emissions. As this acidification accelerates, it poses a serious threat to underwater life, particularly creatures with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons, including mollusks, crabs, and corals. This can have a huge impact on shellfisheries . In total, the U.S. shellfish industry could lose more than $400 million annually by 2100 due to impacts of ocean acidification.
Higher sea levels
The polar regions are particularly vulnerable to a warming atmosphere. Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere on earth, and the world's ice sheets are melting fast. This not only has grave consequences for the region's people, wildlife, and plants; its most serious impact may be on rising sea levels. By 2100, it's estimated our oceans will be one to four feet higher, threatening coastal systems and low-lying areas, encompassing entire island nations and the world’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City, as well as Mumbai, India; Rio de Janeiro; and Sydney, Australia.
But this isn’t the end of the story
There’s no question: Unchecked climate change promises a frightening future, and it's too late to fully turn back the clock. We've already taken care of that by pumping a century's worth of pollution into the atmosphere. “Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow, we'd still see some dangerous effects,” Limaye says. That, of course, is the bad news.
But there's also good news. By aggressively reducing our global emissions now, “we can avoid a lot of the severe consequences that climate change would otherwise bring,” says Limaye. While change must happen at the highest levels of government and business, your voice matters too: to your friends, to your families, and to your community leaders. Together, we can envision a safer, healthier, more equitable future—and build toward it. You can join with millions of people around the world fighting climate change and even work to reduce fossil fuels in your own life .
This story was originally published on March 15, 2016, and has been updated with new information and links.
This NRDC.org story is available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the story was originally published by NRDC.org and link to the original; the story cannot be edited (beyond simple things such as grammar); you can’t resell the story in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select stories individually; you can’t republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our stories.
What Are the Solutions to Climate Change?
What Are the Effects of Climate Change?
The Environmental Justice Movement
When you sign up, you’ll become a member of NRDC’s Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.
Causes and Effects of Global Warming Essay
Global Warming is caused by the increase in green house effect, resulting in a raised average earth’s temperature. The main causes of global warming is the release of toxic and harmful green house gases, like carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide due to the burning of fossil fuel and industrial activities. Effects of global warming include incessant rain, unexpected climatic changes, rise in oceanic temperature, depletion in flora and fauna, melting of glaciers and floods etc.
Essay on Causes and Effects of Global Warming in English
We have provided below short and long essay on causes and effects of global warming in English.
The essays have been written in simple yet effective English language to let you know about the causes and effects of global warming.
After going through these causes and effects of global warming essay you will know what are the causes of global warming and its effects; also the factors leading to it and steps taken to stop it.
The essays will be useful in your school/college assignments and speech giving, debate and essay writing competition.
Global Warming Causes and Effects Essay 1 (100 words)
Global warming is a major concern nowadays because of the regular increasing temperature of the whole atmosphere. It is continuously becoming so powerful like a demon. There are many reasons for its ever increasing nature. The major cause of it is greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, chloro fluoro carbons, etc which are increasing in the environment mainly by the human activities. Some of are increasing number of automobiles, mushrooming industries, fossil fuels combustion, etc. Such activities emit more CO2 in the atmosphere which enhances global warmth of Earth. This increasing atmospheric temperature causes glaciers to melt, health disorders to occur and invites so many natural disasters.
Global Warming Causes and Effects Essay 2 (150 words)
As every one of us knows that couple of century, the climate on this planet was colder than now. And it is so surprising that even now it is not stable, it is increasing day by day. We are well aware and imagine its negative effects on our environment and body health. However, we are ignoring and continuing our bad habits which is flaming the global warming. Global warming is a constant process of increase in the annual temperature of whole planet. According to the statistics, it is recorded that in the last century the average increase in temperature is 0.7°C and sea level by 10 cm.
All the effects of the global warming (adverse effect on agriculture, floods, droughts, soil erosion, hurricanes, etc) are the huge indication of danger to our life. The main causes of the global warming are increasing human population, deforestation, increasing effects of green house gases, many careless human activities, etc.
Global Warming Causes and Effects Essay 3 (200 words)
There are many causes of the global warming which affects human lives and health in many aspects. The main cause of global warming is the human beings careless activities. Ever increasing human population are demanding more resources to live easy and healthy life such as land to live and crop cultivation, technological growth for comfort and deal with increasing temperature of atmosphere, etc. Fossil fuels burning for many reasons are highly responsible to increase global warming. People are realizing well the increase in environmental warmth however never mind their activities which are stimulating the global warming to increase. Continuously they are wasting natural resources and polluting the air, water and soil.
Increasing inventions of the technologies such as refrigerator, AC, car/automobiles, electric machines, oven, microwave, washing machine, etc because of the increasing need of human beings for technologies in order to make their life, easy and luxurious. All such resources ultimately contribute to the global warming. Burning fossil fuels in the automobiles emits various green house gases which get collected in the atmosphere and force it to heat. Increasing need of land by human being results deforestation which contributes to increase in CO2 and decrease in oxygen. It affects the human health, life style, calls diseases, calls natural disasters like hurricanes, heat waves, drought, climate change and so many.
Global Warming Causes and Effects Essay 4 (250 words)
Increase in environmental temperature and climate change has become very clear over the last 50 years because of increasing level of greenhouse gases concentration (like water vapour, CO2, methane, ozone, sulphur and nitrogen gases, etc) in the atmosphere. Such as greenhouse gases contribute to increase in the greenhouse effect.
The major cause of increasing greenhouse gas in the environment is burning of fossil fuels which emit carbon dioxide and heat the atmosphere. Such green house gases have capacity to absorb more heat from sun, heat from electricity used by human beings in many ways which in turn warm the whole atmosphere of this planet. The effects caused by the greenhouse gases (water vapour, CO2, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, hydro fluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, per fluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, etc) are called as the green house effect.
Heating of the environment increases atmospheric temperature (by 3° to 5° C by the year 2100), increases sea level (by 25 meter by year 2100) and heat, melts glaciers, increases health disorders, changes climate, changes weather, increases annual power of hurricanes, calls natural disasters (floods, heat waves, droughts, tornadoes), lowers down amount and quality of agricultural yields, enhances glacial retreat, reduces summer stream flows, extinctions of various important plants and animals species and so many.
There are some other dangerous effects of the global warming which continuously affects the lives of human beings, plants and animals. Global warming needs to be solved urgently by the active effort of each and every human being living on this planet.
Global Warming Causes and Effects Essay 5 (300 words)
Scientists and economists of many countries are working regularly in the field of global warming from many decades in order to figure out causes, effects, preventions measures, and solutions of it. In the last few decades, a huge level of change in the climate and weather has been seen clearly. It has disturbed the natural cycles and ecological balance in the atmosphere.
The most important cause of increasing global warming is the effect of greenhouse gases which are emitted by human activities. In order to work together and solve this issue by the global effort, there is a group of scientists formed by the United Nations (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC). This group works together to research the various causes, dangerous effects, effective prevention measures, and effective solutions.
According to the research and report of various highly skilled scientists, it is noted that ever increasing level of several greenhouse gases are highly responsible for warming of atmosphere. Combustion of fossil fuels by various means such as automobiles, cars, factories, electricity use, etc are responsible for emitting various green house gases like carbon dioxide, gases of sulphur and nitrogen, etc. Other contributors of the green house effect are methane (released by means of landfills, agriculture, digestive systems of grazing animals), nitrous oxide from various toxic fertilizers, gases released by means of refrigeration and industrial processes, loss of forests, etc.
The release of various toxic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing the atmospheric temperature as they have heat trapping abilities.
Methane gas molecules (20 times) and Nitrous oxide (300 times) have more ability to trap heat than CO2. In many countries the use of chlorofluorocarbons has been banned because they also have ability to degrade the ozone layer (a protective layer in the atmosphere) as well as high potential to trap heat thousands of times more than CO2. Other causes of global warming is deforestation which increases CO2 level, decreases oxygen level, drought, disturbs ecological balance, changes climate and changes weather patterns.
Global Warming Causes and Effects Essay 6 (400 words)
Global warming is increasing day by day because of the continuous increase in the levels of greenhouse gasses. Such gases have tendency to trap heat from many sources like sun, electricity, burning coal, burning fuels, etc and prevent them to escape back to the atmosphere. Thus, the collective effect of all the green house gases increases temperature on the earth and gives rise to many dangerous problems. Earlier, the earth was so cool and every natural cycles were going timely however nowadays lots of dramatic fluctuations in the weather, climate, temperature, health, etc takes place. A vast increase in the temperature, sea level, and weather patterns has been seen clearly in few last decades.
All the changes because of the ever increasing global warming are not a coincidence however it is caused by the human activities and technological advancement. A little fluctuation in the level atmospheric carbon dioxide may cause high level significant effect on the global temperature. The continuous rise in the percentage of atmospheric carbon dioxide is alarming us by its dangerous effects however we are still ignoring. Increasing need of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and gasoline) by the people of industrial civilization is giving the opportunity to rise in carbon dioxide emissions.
Deforestation is also causing increase in the carbon dioxide through decreasing number of plants and exposing soil to the sunlight. Trees are best source to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere however what happen if we finish the main source of reducing CO2 level. Our mal practices just to live luxurious life on daily basis are hugely altering the environment as well as endangering the lives of people in return. A little rise in the level of green house gases may hugely affect the global warming.
The use of a chemical called chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) in the refrigerators, aerosol spray propellants are continuously damaging the ozone layer thus increasing the chance of heat to remain on the earth by preventing them to escape back out to the environmental surface. Destruction of ozone layer increases the incidence of many health disorders and diseases such as skin cancer, respiratory disease, low immunity problems, etc. Global warming is damaging seasonal crops and marine food channel web, etc. It has affected the weather patterns (summer season has increased and winter season has decreased) and climate because of the increasing temperature and heat of the earth atmosphere.
Global Warming Essay
Causes of Global Warming Essay
Effects of Global Warming Essay
Prevention of Global Warming Essay
Consequences of Global Warming Essay
Global Warming and Climate Change Essay
Green House Effect and Global Warming Essay
Global Warming and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Essay
Global Warming Solutions Essay
Essay on History of Global Warming
Essay on Impact of Global Warming on Oceans
Essay on Effects of Global Warming on Coral Reefs
Money essay, music essay, importance of education essay, education essay, newspaper essay, my hobby essay.
Hurricane Lee Weakens to Category 2 Storm, and Its Eventual Path Is Unclear
The Atlantic hurricane will cause dangerous rip currents along most of the East Coast on Sunday and Monday. Those conditions will worsen through the week, forecasters said.
- Share full article
By Judson Jones
Judson Jones is a meteorologist and reporter for The Times.
Hurricane Lee grabbed the attention of forecasters and social media last week as the rapidly intensifying storm moved west across the open waters of the Atlantic.
It is easy to look at a map showing a major hurricane with a forecast path pointed directly at the United States and think the East Coast is in for it. But as of Thursday night, that scenario was not the most probable outcome. Even if it were, Lee wouldn’t arrive until late next week, which is beyond the official forecast from the experts at the National Hurricane Center.
Here’s what we know about the hurricane:
What is Lee’s current location and path?
As of 5 a.m. on Sunday, Hurricane Lee was about 280 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands, which are in the northeastern Caribbean, and the storm was moving west-northwest at 9 miles per hour, the Hurricane Center said .
Its maximum sustained winds of 105 m.p.h., weaker than they were a day earlier, make it a Category 2 storm. Some strengthening was forecast during the next couple of days, followed by gradual weakening, the Hurricane Center said.
Lee currently does not threaten any land, and there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but dangerous surf conditions generated by the storm are expected to affect parts of the East Coast of the United States starting on Sunday, the Hurricane Center said.
Meteorologists are fairly confident that Lee will stay north of the Caribbean. Several forecast models suggested the storm would veer north, but it remained unclear if and when that would happen — and whether it would turn before threatening the United States.
“It is way too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the U.S. East Coast, Atlantic Canada, or Bermuda late next week, particularly since the hurricane is expected to slow down considerably over the southwestern Atlantic,” the Hurricane Center said.
Go here for the latest maps and trackers as Lee moves through the Atlantic .
How big is this storm going to get?
Lee intensified rapidly on Thursday, with its wind speeds doubling from 80 to 160 m.p.h. It is expected to remain a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher, with wind speeds of at least 111 m.p.h.) through early next week, according to the Hurricane Center.
What are the chances it will hit the U.S. East Coast?
There is some chance, but it is currently not the likely outcome. It might also hit Canada or stay farther east and move across Bermuda.
Tell me what the models show. (Also, what’s a spaghetti model?)
One version of a model last weekend suggested that the East Coast could get hit, a possibility that has lingered in the minds of some forecasters and amateur weather watchers, in part because of widespread social media hype.
But when you look at all the versions of the model, there is not an overwhelming consensus on where the center of the hurricane will go after this weekend, with some outliers close to the East Coast.
Sometimes, multiple models are displayed on a single map with lines that plot where that computer simulation believes the center of the storm will be five, seven or even 14 days in the future.
Known as spaghetti models, these mapped model outputs get their name from their resemblance to long strands of pasta.
The closer the lines are to one another, the more confidence it gives forecasters in what the storm might do. For the next few days, there is a pretty reliable consensus that the storm will track northwest.
When the spaghetti lines spread wider apart, forecasters have many more possibilities to contend with. There is a lot of spread beyond this weekend, which is why this storm will be important to keep an eye on. Right now, everything is on the table.
What has this year’s hurricane season been like so far?
We’re a little over halfway through the Atlantic hurricane season, which started on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
In late May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that there would be 12 to 17 named storms this year, a “near-normal” amount. On Aug. 10, NOAA officials revised their estimate upward , to 14 to 21 storms, and the last few weeks have been busy.
When it formed on Tuesday, Lee became the 12th named storm of this year’s Atlantic season. (And the 13th if you count an unnamed storm in January that experts at the Hurricane Center said should have been named.) It is also the eighth since Aug. 20, when two tropical storms, Emily and Franklin , formed. A week later saw the arrival of Tropical Storm Idalia , which made landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast as a Category 3 hurricane on Aug. 30.
Tropical Storm Margot formed on Thursday and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane.
There is consensus among scientists that hurricanes are becoming more powerful because of climate change. Although there might not be more named storms overall, the likelihood of major hurricanes is increasing.
Climate change is also affecting the amount of rain that storms can produce.
In a warming world, the air can hold more moisture, which means a named storm can hold and produce more rainfall, like Hurricane Harvey did in Texas in 2017, when some areas received more than 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours.
Researchers have also found that, over the past few decades, storms have slowed down, sitting over areas for longer.
When a storm slows down over water, the amount of moisture the storm can absorb increases. When the storm slows over land, the amount of rain that falls over a single location increases; in 2019, for example, Hurricane Dorian slowed to a crawl over the northwestern Bahamas, resulting in a total rainfall of 22.84 inches in Hope Town during the storm.
Anastasia Marks and Eduardo Medina contributed reporting.
Judson Jones is a meteorologist and reporter for The Times, covering extreme weather around the world. More about Judson Jones
Explore Our Weather Coverage
Hurricane Lee has grabbed the attention of forecasters and social media as the rapidly intensifying storm moves west across the open waters of the Atlantic.
Tropical Storm Margot formed in the North Atlantic Ocean and is forecast to grow into a hurricane but poses no immediate threat to land.
Storms pounding southern China have flooded low-lying homes and roads, choked expressways and set rainfall records.
Heavy rains have compounded major flooding in central Greece , leaving some villages almost completely under water.
Helpful Things to Know
Hurricane Preparation: When a hurricane is poised to make landfall, you may not have much time before you leave. Here’s what you can do to get ready .
Extreme Weather Maps: Track the possibility of extreme weather in the places that are important to you .
Heat Safety: Heat waves are becoming increasingly common across the world. Here is how to keep yourself and your loved ones cool, hydrated and healthy .
Is It Safe to Go Outside?: Heat, flooding and wildfire smoke have made for treacherous conditions. Use this guide to determine when you should stay home .
Flood Safety: Fast rising water can be deadly . Here’s what to do if you’re caught off guard, and how to prepare for a future flooding event.
Climate Change: What’s causing global warming? How can we fix it? Our F.A.Q. tackles your climate questions big and small .