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is the increase in theaverage temperatureof Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th centuryand its projected continuation.According to the 2007Fourth Assessment Reportby theIntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change(IPCC), global surface temperature increased0.74 ± 0.18 °C(1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 20th century.
Most of the observedtemperature increase since the middle of the 20th century has beencausedbyincreasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which result fromhumanactivitysuch as the burning of fossil fuelanddeforestation.
Global dimming, aresult of increasing concentrations of atmosphericaerosolsthat block sunlightfrom reaching the surface, has partially countered the effects of warming inducedby greenhouse gases.Climate modelprojections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that theglobal surfacetemperatureis likely to rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C(2.0 to11.5 °F) during the 21st century.
The uncertainty in this estimate arises from theuse of models with differingsensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrationsand theuse of differingestimates of future greenhouse gas emissions. An increase inglobal temperature will causesea levels to riseand will change the amount andpattern of precipitation, probably including expansion of subtropicaldeserts.
Warming is expected to bestrongest in the Arcticand would be associatedwith continuingretreat of glaciers,permafrostandsea ice. Other likely effectsinclude more frequent and intenseextreme weather events,species extinctions,and changes inagricultural yields. Warming and related changes will vary fromregion to region around the globe, though the nature of these regional variationsis uncertain.
As a result of contemporary increases in atmospheric carbondioxide, the oceans have becomemore acidic, a result that is predicted tocontinue.
While thescientific consensusis that human activity contributes significantly toglobal warming
,there is an ongoingpoliticalandpublicdebate over whether thecosts of mitigation outweigh the risks of inaction. TheKyotoProtocolis aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentration to prevent a"dangerous anthropogenic interference".
As of November 2009,187 states hadsigned and ratifiedthe protocol.
Proposed responses to climate change includemitigationto reduceemissions,adaptationto the effects of global warming, andgeoengineeringtoremove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or block incoming sunlight.