Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation.
Global average air temperature near the Earth's surface rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.3 ± 0.32 °F) during the past century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes, "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations," which leads to warming of the surface and lower atmosphere by increasing the greenhouse effect. Other phenomena such as solar variation and volcanoes have probably had a relatively small effect. These conclusions have been endorsed by at least 30 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists is the only scientific society that rejects these conclusions, and a few individual scientists also disagree with parts of them.
Climate models referenced by the IPCC predict that global surface temperatures are likely to increase by 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) between 1990 and 2100. The range of values reflects the use of differing scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions as well as uncertainties regarding climate sensitivity. Although most studies focus on the period up to 2100, warming and sea level rise are expected to continue for more than a millennium even if no further greenhouse gases are released after this date. This reflects the long average atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide (CO2).
An increase in global temperatures can in turn cause other changes, including sea level rise, and changes in the amount and pattern of precipitation. There may also be increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, though it is difficult to connect specific events to global warming. Other consequences may include changes in agricultural yields, glacier retreat, reduced summer streamflows, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors.
Remaining scientific uncertainties include the exact degree of climate change expected in the future, especially how changes will vary from region to region around the globe. There is ongoing political and public debate regarding what, if any, action should be taken to reduce or reverse future warming or to adapt to its expected consequences. Most national governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol aimed at combating greenhouse gas emissions.
Global mean surface temperature anomaly 1850 to 2006
Mean surface temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980