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Climate is the average weather in a place over many years. Climate change is a shift in those average conditions.
The Earth is now in a period of rapid climate change, with global temperatures rising because of human activities, such as the burning of coal, oil and gas.
BBC. (2021, August 9). What is climate change? A really simple guide.
Climate change: periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.
Greenhouse gases are [one of many things influencing global warming]. They are gas molecules that have the property of absorbing infrared radiation (net heat energy) emitted from Earth’s surface and reradiating it back to Earth’s surface, thus contributing to the phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor are the most important greenhouse gases, and they have a profound effect on the energy budget of the Earth system despite making up only a fraction of all atmospheric gases. Concentrations of greenhouse gases have varied substantially during Earth’s history, and these variations have driven substantial climate changes at a wide range of timescales. In general, greenhouse gas concentrations have been particularly high during warm periods and low during cold phases.
A number of processes influence greenhouse gas concentrations. Some, such as tectonic activities, operate at timescales of millions of years, whereas others, such as vegetation, soil, wetland, and ocean sources and sinks, operate at timescales of hundreds to thousands of years. Human activities—especially fossil-fuel combustion since the Industrial Revolution—are responsible for steady increases in atmospheric concentrations of various greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Jackson, S. T. (2021, April 27). climate change. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Scientists attribute the global warming trend observed since the mid-20th century to the human expansion of the "greenhouse effect"1 — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.
Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as "forcing" climate change. Gases, such as water vapor, which respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are seen as "feedbacks."
On Earth, human activities are changing the natural greenhouse. Over the last century the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2. To a lesser extent, the clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gases.
The consequences of changing the natural atmospheric greenhouse are difficult to predict, but some effects seem likely:
Climate extremes, such as droughts, floods and extreme temperatures, can lead to crop losses and threaten the livelihoods of agricultural producers and the food security of communities worldwide. Depending on the crop and ecosystem, weeds, pests, and fungi can also thrive under warmer temperatures, wetter climates, and increased CO2 levels, and climate change will likely increase weeds and pests.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (2021). The causes of climate change.