"If we're having global warming, how come I've got ice and snow outside my window?"

global warming in a nutshell

Part of the answer is in the graph above, which provides one aspect of global warming that could be described as "climate change in a nutshell". Global warming, by definition, is a warming in temperature across the globe, a warming in the average temperature over all points on the globe over all times of the day over all days of the year over many years. So even after extreme global warming, there will still be some days of even extreme cold weather, somewhere on the globe. As the graph shows, we 'lose' some (not all) of the record coldest temperatures, as global-warming progresses, but gain in the number of record hot temperatures, including heat waves.

The images in the animation above are based on a graph from a March 2012 report on extreme weather by the International panel on Climate Change, the world's largest body of climate scientists.


An overview of the IPCC's March 2012 report on extreme climate change.

Thus, the average over all locations and all days will still be warmer than, say, before the Industrial Revolution in the 1800's. And even the increase (so far) of just a few degrees Fahrenheit in the global average has already influenced climate patterns all over the globe.

The global average has moved up and down many times over the course of earth's existence, but it's never changed as quickly as it's changing now. We don't know whether living things on the earth (including the plants and animals we depend upon to eat) can adapt to the change at the same rate that the global climate is changing.