Module 4: Climate Change Fingerprint

To get one’s head around the implications of climate change, it’s useful to understand just how systemically the natural world is already being affected by climate change, and how those impacts will change in the future. That’s the goal of this module of Your Climate Change PhD.


There is an overwhelming focus on changing average global temperature, the “stripes” image above being one example, as the primary means of visualizing and tracking climate change and climate risks. That is misleading. Average temperature is just one of many variables that scientists are tracking as part of the “fingerprint of climate change."

Not everyone will be significantly affected by each of the fingerprint variables profiled in this module, at least not directly, but the second and third order impacts may be a different matter. Even modest sea level rise, for example, will threaten hundreds of ports around the world with all kinds of possible second and third order logistics and economic effects. Droughts could trigger a world food shortage with global political and economic ramifications.

The text and resources associated with each fingerprint variable covered in this module briefly covers evidence of change to date and expected change in the future. Not surprisingly, some fingerprint variables are covered in much more depth in the Climate Web than others.

Through this module you’ll also have access to additional internet resources, and pre-set search terms for each fingerprint variable.

Fingerprint variables covered in this module include:

  • Antarctic Ice Impacts
  • Arctic Ice Decline
  • Average Nighttime Temperatures
  • Changing Growing Seasons
  • Cloud Cover and Type
  • Coral Reef Impacts
  • Extreme Precipitation
  • Fire and Climate Change
  • Glacier Ice Loss
  • High vs. Low Temperature Records
  • Increased Methane Emissions
  • Melting Permafrost
  • More Heatwaves
  • More Wildfires
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Ocean Current Changes
  • Ocean Heat
  • Sea Level Rise
  • Shifting Disease Ranges
  • Shifting Species Ranges
  • Snow vs. Rain
  • Species Extinctions
  • Storm Frequency and Strength
  • Stream Flows and Temperatures

Module Content

Text lesson
Text lesson

REQUIRES PURCHASE Fingerprint Variables

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