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Worked Example

Question: Until 250 years ago, the highest rate of temperature increase recorded was approximately 0.003°C per year. For the last 10 years, the rate of temperature change has been approximately 0.017°C per year. For each of these two rates (historical and current), how long would it take for temperature to change by 1°C?

Considering the historical rate of temperature change (0.003°C per year), it would take 333 years for the Earth's surface temperature to change by 1°C. Using the current rate of temperature change, it would take only 59 years for the Earth's surface temperature to change by 1°C. Our current rate of temperature increase is much greater than that of the past 250 years.

Congratulations! You have now completed Lesson 2. Move on to Lesson 3 to learn more about the underlying chemistry of climate change.