Quiz: What You Don't Know About Climate Change Science
Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic
Every few years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a new summary of the scientific consensus on climate change. How much do you know about the forces altering the Earth’s temperature, according to the IPCC's September 2013 report?
Quiz by Marianne Lavelle
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared with at least 90 percent certainty that humans caused most of the global warming since the mid-20th century. In IPCC's 2013 report, how great was the panel's certainty? More than:
- 80 percent
- 90 percent
- 95 percent
- 100 percent
The IPCC increased its level of certainty on human influence on climate change from "very likely" to "extremely likely"—an increase from at least 90 percent to 95 percent certainty, according to the panel's definitions.
It is extremely likely that human activity caused how much of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010?
- One quarter
- More than half
- Seventy-five percent
The IPCC attributes “more than half” of the temperature change to humans, with “high confidence” this has caused large-scale changes in the oceans, ice cover, and sea level in the second half of the 20th century.
In its 2013 report, the IPCC projected warming will likely be above 2.7°F (1.5°C) What was the "floor" in the panel's previous projection in 2007?
- 1.6°F (0.9°C)
- 2.6°F (1.4°C)
- 3.6°F (2°C)
- 4.6°F (2.6°C)
In its 2013 report, the IPCC's lowest projection for likely future warming marks a rollback of its position in 2007, when it ruled out any warming less than 3.6°F (2°C).
Roughly how many scientific publications were cited in the IPCC’s 2013 Assessment Report-5 (AR-5)?
More than 9,200 scientific publications were cited in the IPCC's 2013 assessment report. More than two-thirds were published after the panel’s previous report in 2007.
What region of the world will likely warm most rapidly due to climate change?
- The Arctic
- The tropics
- Australia and the South Pacific
There is very high confidence that the Arctic region will warm most rapidly, says the IPCC.
In the past two decades, how much has the rate in sea level rise accelerated, compared to the average since 1901?
- 8 percent
- 28 percent
- 48 percent
- 88 percent
The IPCC says it is very likely that the mean rate of global average sea level rise was 3.2 millimeters per year from 1993 to 2010, an increase of more than 88 percent over the mean of 1.7 millimeters per year from 1901 to 2010.
What is the only continental region for which the IPCC expressed significant doubt on human-caused warming?
- South America
IPCC says that because of large uncertainties in the observed changes occurring in Antarctica, there’s low confidence that human influences have contributed to a surface temperature rise.
How much of the carbon emitted by human activities has been absorbed by the oceans?
- 10 percent
- 20 percent
- 30 percent
- 40 percent
The ocean has absorbed more than about 30 percent of the carbon emitted by human activities, causing acidification that is likely to continue under all of the future scenarios IPCC studied.
How does the rate of global warming in more recent years, from 1998 to 2012, compare to average warming since 1951?
- It has been slower.
- It has stopped.
- It has accelerated.
- It has doubled.
The IPCC says that the rate of warming since 1998, about 0.05°C per decade, has been less than half the rate of 0.12°C since 1951. The panel noted the influence of the strong El Niño warm ocean cycle at the start of this period.
There have been other periods in Earth's history when carbon dioxide concentrations were high. But the current level is unprecedented over at least how many years, according to IPCC?
Carbon dioxide concentrations are unprecedented in the last 800,000 years, according to IPCC.
Great work. You've really warmed to the subject of climate change science!
You're on a hot streak. Try the quiz again to improve your score.
Not so hot. See if a second try improves your score.
Brush up on your climate change science facts at The Great Energy Challenge, and then retake the quiz to see how much you’ve learned.Retake Quiz
You know that poor insulation makes for a drafty, energy-wasting home, but how much do you really know about the true potential of energy efficiency?
You know that demand in Asia is moving energy markets around the world, but how much do you really know about the needs and resources of the world's most populous continent?
Historians say the modern era of energy began on October 17, 1973, when Arab exporters unleashed the "oil weapon" with an embargo against the United States and its allies. How much do you know about the global oil shocks of the past 40 years and how they changed the world?
Every few years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a new summary of the scientific consensus on climate change. How much do you know about the forces altering the Earth's temperature, according to the IPCC's September 2013 report?
You know that climate change is reshaping the Arctic, but how much do you really know about how shrinking sea ice is opening up the resources at the top of the world for exploration and development?
Great Energy Challenge Blog
- Poll Finds Generation Gap on Energy Issues as Millennials Voice Climate Concerns
- After Two-Year Hiatus, U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Get License Renewals
- Chief Councilor Ellis Ross of the Haisla Nation on First Nations and Energy Development in Canada
- Paying for Protection Is Part of the Cost of Doing Business for Oil and Gas Firms in Egypt
- New Report Ranks the World’s ‘Greenest’ Utilities
@NatGeoGreen on TwitterTweets by @NatGeoGreen
The Big Energy Question
What innovation should shape transportation in the future?