Climate

Climate has an enormous impact on society, with wide-ranging effects on public safety and health, the economy, transportation, infrastructure, and agriculture. Geoscientists investigate our climate's past and present to better understand how it may change in the future.

Basics

A satellite image of the Earth. Image Credit: NASA

Climate is the average of weather conditions over decades to centuries in a particular location.[1] Climate is influenced by many factors, including solar activity, ocean circulation, land cover, and greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere.[2,3,4,5]   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Case Studies & Factsheets

Cover of Methane Emissions in the Oil and Gas Industry

Introduction Methane is the main component of natural gas, a cheap, abundant, and versatile source of energy that produces less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels when burned. However, methane itself is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane leaks from wells, pipelines, or...

Cover of Petroleum and the Environment - an Introduction

Introduction When oil and gas were first extracted and used on an industrial scale in the 19th century, they provided significant advantages over existing fuels: they were cleaner, easier to transport, and more versatile than coal and biomass (wood, waste, and whale oil). Diesel and gasoline...

Cover of Abandoned Wells

Introduction In 2017, there were one million active oil and gas wells in the United States.1 When a well reaches the end of its productive life, or if it fails to find economic quantities of oil or gas, the well operator is required by regulators to remove all equipment and plug the well to prevent...

Cover of Mitigating and Regulating Methane Emissions

Introduction Methane is the main component of almost all natural gas, and gas delivered to end-users is purified to 95-98% methane.1 There are three main sources of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry: When a well is being drilled, cleaned out, or hydraulically fractured. As the fluids...

cover of Currents Factsheet 2019-001

According to recent American Geosciences Institute (AGI) workforce data, less than 11% of geoscience graduates receiving a BA/BS or MA/MS degree develop a career in academia and/or research. Given this statistic, the question then arises: How are geologists making a living upon graduation in 2019?...

cover of Currents Factsheet 2019-002

Traditional geoscience departments commonly require 60 semester hours of geology and geology-related elective courses to achieve a BA/BS degree. Of the 60 hours, typically half are required courses in geology. Recently, the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG®) evaluated more...

Cover of Geoscientists in Petroleum and the Environment

Introduction Geoscience – the study of the Earth – underpins our understanding of the many intersections between petroleum and the environment, from the search for resources to the study of air pollutants. Without the work of geoscientists, we would have neither the energy system nor the...

Cover of AGI Factsheet 2018-004 - Present Day Climate Change

Climate Science 101 Climate is the average of weather conditions over several decades.1,2 Geoscientists monitor modern climate conditions (1880 A.D. to present) in part by taking direct measurements of weather data (i.e., air temperature, rainfall and snowfall, wind speed, cloudiness, and so on)...

Pre-Ike (left) and post-Ike (right) ASTER imagery of Galveston Island, the Bolívar Peninsula, and the mainland in August 2006. Healthy (red) and dead (brown) vegetation shows storm surge inundation effects. Image Credit: Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observ.

Hurricanes bring not only intense rainfall, but also high winds and flooding. This flooding is powered by the hurricane storm surge: a rise in coastal sea level caused by lowered barometric pressure and by wind blowing the ocean onto the land. The result is that waves and currents affect areas that...

Tornado funnel. Image Credit: NOAA

Remote sensing imagery is used by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison to support recovery efforts after a tornado. Defining the Problem Following a tornado, first responders need maps of the width and location (swath) of the damage area. The biggest challenge when integrating remote...

Cover of Oil Refining and Gas Processing

Introduction Crude oil and natural gas are complex chemical mixtures that are generally unsuitable for direct use. Oil refining and gas processing turn these mixtures into a wide range of fuels and other products while removing low-value and polluting components. Refining and processing have both...

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