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Advancing the Science of Climate Change
FIGURE 2.1 The greenhouse effect. SOURCE: Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences.
fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—for energy. The increasing concentrations of GHGs are amplifying the natural greenhouse effect, causing Earth’s surface temperature to rise. Human activities have also increased the number of aerosols (small liquid droplets or particles suspended in the atmosphere). Aerosols have a wide range of environmental effects, but on average they increase the amount of sunlight that is reflected back to space, a cooling effect that offsets some, but not all, of the warming induced by increasing GHG concentrations.
Earth Is Warming
There are many indications—both direct and indirect—that the climate system is warming. The most fundamental of these are thermometer measurements, enough of which have been collected over both land and sea to estimate changes in global average surface temperature since the mid- to late 19th century. A number of inde-