Federal agencies studying climate

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) was established in the 1980s by the U.S. National Weather Service. It is the agency that forecasts the El Niño and La Niña events in the tropical Pacific. It provides forecasts of climate change as well as real-time monitoring of climatic events by monitoring the atmosphere, the land, and the ocean, supplying vital data for industries, such as transportation, energy, health, water resources, and agriculture.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is also heavily involved in global warming and climate change research. Well known for their use of satellite and computer modeling technology, they have developed sophisticated models that are able to calculate specific surface temperatures (solar radiation reflected and absorbed) around the world and measure how much they have been warming.

NASA's satellites also monitor other important aspects related to climate and global warming, such as volcanic eruptions, melting ice sheets and glaciers, El Niño, and changes in global wind and pressure systems. This information can be fed into their supercomputers to model scenarios of global warming.

Although different types of climate exist in different parts of the world, the climate does work as a complete global system. Conditions and actions in one area influence conditions and actions in other areas. Because the Earth shares one atmosphere, what goes on, for example, in China will affect the United States.

Thus, global warming is also a global issue: It is affecting the Earth in different ways, such as destabilizing major ice sheets, melting the world's glaciers, raising sea levels, contributing to extreme weather, and shifting biological species northward and higher in elevation. No area of the Earth is immune from its effects. Scientists at NASA have determined that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (an important greenhouse gas) is now higher than it has been for the past 650,000 years.

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