What is Climate Change

U.S. Route 89
Wolfgang Staudt-Flickr
Changes to the things we care about — land, water, wildlife and the people who depend on them — demand that we better understand and face climate change.

Climate change refers to gradually warmer temperatures that are causing many other changes across the planet. In Montana, statewide average annual temperatures have increased by more than two degrees Fahrenheit in the past century.

Causes of climate change

Certain human activities, carried out all over the world over long periods of time, have increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the air enough to cause climate changes.

Weather versus climate

Weather occurs on a short-term basis: from day to day or week to week. Climate is the average weather pattern in a geographical location over a much longer period of time. For example, the average annual temperatures in Montana have increased by two degrees Fahrenheit in the last century.

The average annual temperatures in Montana have increased by two degrees Fahrenheit in the last century.

Why climate science is complex

The complexities of climate science make it impossible to say climate change causes a single storm, wildfire or other weather event.

It is possible, however, to determine that sharp increases in severe weather events may be associated with changing climate conditions.

We also know that changes at the extremes —  fewer very cold days and more very hot days — are some of the most influential changes we’re seeing in Montana.