Climate Change

Earth’s climate is naturally dynamic, but human activity is accelerating change.

Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve gotten most of our energy from fossil fuels. Burning them releases gases, primarily carbon dioxide, that trap heat in the atmosphere. In the past 100 years, concentrations of this greenhouse gas have grown faster and higher than at any time in the past 850,000 years (and probably much longer), causing global average temperatures to rise. The evidence comes from abundant data collected by many sources over time. We can see it around us in the form of rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps and glaciers, changing ocean chemistry, and more severe heat waves, droughts, and storms. See a full list of Museum resources, programs, and content about climate change here.

Video Earth Day 2021: Road to Recovery Does the coronavirus pandemic hold lessons for the fight against climate change? Blog Post Warming Oceans Mean Extinction for Reef-Building Corals, Study Finds While hard corals won’t survive changing oceans, softer-bodied relatives like sea anemones will endure. August 31, 2020 Video Earth Day 1970 - 2020: 50th Anniversary || Time Will Tell The first Earth Day was in 1970. A lot has changed since, and the future depends on the choices we make today. Video Revealing Climate Through Corals What can corals reveal about how our oceans have changed over time? Video How Corals Hold Centuries of Ocean Climate Data Corals are living records of climate change. Video Shelf Life 06: The Tiniest Fossils Tiny fossils hold big info on the Earth's past climate. Reading What is Climate Change? This isn't the first time Earth's climate has changed, but it's the first time human activity has caused it. Blog Post Making Climate Change Personal in On the Nature of Things A new dance choreographed specifically for the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life aims to bring the implications of climate disruption home. March 12, 2015 Video Climate Change in the Marshall Islands How will islanders cope with climate change? Article Rethinking Home: Climate Change in New York and Samoa The American Museum of Natural History and Museum of Samoa has completed a 1-year project to bring together two groups: one in New... Blog Post Polar Bear Diet Changes as Sea Ice Melts A series of papers recently published suggests that polar bears in the warming Arctic are turning to alternate food sources. January 21, 2014 Blog Post Climate Change and Ice Age Vertebrates A Museum-led study reveals that different vertebrate species responded to climate change differently over the last 500,000 years. December 7, 2016 Blog Post New Models Predict Greener Arctic in Coming Decades Rising temperatures will lead to a massive “greening” of the Arctic as a result of striking increases in plant cover. April 1, 2013 Video Weather and Climate Events—Tropical Cyclone Sandy Watch Tropical Cyclone Sandy evolve in NOAA satellite data. EDUCATOR MATERIALS GRACE: Tracking Water From Space Data from the GRACE satellites allow scientists to see how fresh water is being redistributed across the continents over time. Exhibition Climate Change Explore the science and impact of climate change, and discover how individuals and nations can reduce carbon footprints. October 18, 2008 — August 16, 2009 Game What Do You Know About Climate Change? Think you're an expert on our changing climate? Test your knowledge with this interactive quiz. Article Intense Storms Have Become More Common Rainstorms help sustain life, but they're different from intense downpours that causes floods and landslides. Exhibit What Causes Climate and Climate Change Discover how climate works and explore the consequences of climate change in the Hall of Planet Earth.

Support for the development of Science Topics was generously provided by Sidney and Helaine Lerner, GRACE Communications Foundation.