What is global warming?

"Global warming" means that the average temperature everywhere on earth increases for a longer period of time. However, global warming does not necessarily mean that this happens evenly all over the world. Some parts of the earth may warm up more, others more slowly, and fluctuations cannot be ruled out.

Global warming makes climate change measurable, but at the same time it is the reason why our climate changes along with all other climate-relevant aspects. The average temperature of the earth is determined by measuring the temperature at many places on earth at the same time and then taking an average of these values. This is complex, and the values must be coordinated and corrected if necessary. This results in an approximate value for the global average temperature of 15°C.

However, the change in the average value can be measured very well if the average temperature is calculated in the same way at any time, or the values are comparable. A global warming of 1.04 degrees has been measured over the last 130 years.

What is the difference between current global warming and previous warming?

Due to various factors, which cause the temperature on earth to fluctuate, warm and cold periods have alternated in the history of the earth. For example, the global average temperature was already well above and well below the current average temperature. However, major climate changes, such as the one taking place right now, are always dangerous for life on Earth, of which there are numerous examples in the Earth's history.

In addition, the climate is an inert and sensitive system. If, for example, a tipping point (e.g. the Gulf Stream or permafrost soils) in the climate system is reached or exceeded, this change is irreversible, i.e. it cannot be reversed. Other parts of the climate system (e.g. sea level) react sluggishly to changes in CO2 concentration and show strongly time-delayed effects.
The current climate crisis differs from earlier climate changes mainly by its speed. Never before have so many greenhouse gases been emitted so quickly. The reason for the rising temperatures is that we humans emit too much greenhouse gas due to our way of life since industrialisation, thus increasing the greenhouse effect. More heat than normal is trapped in the earth's atmosphere and the average global temperature increases, or global warming takes place.



  • myclimate Klimabooklet 2019
  • UBA: Ergebnisse der Klimaforschung
  • BMU Klimaschutz- wissenschaftliche Grundlagen
  • ETH Zürich: Wie messen wir die Erderwärmung?
  • NASA: Climate Change - How do we know?

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