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Researching Climate Change in the Geography and Map Division

United for Climate Action.

United for Climate Action. Courtesy of the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

As the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) began this week, it is important for all of us to study how we are affected by global climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), future changes to our Earth include a warmer atmosphere and oceans, more acidic oceans, higher sea levels, and larger changes in precipitation patterns. The United States is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and is actively participating in COP21.

The Geography & Map Division has many sources you can use to study the effects of climate change. We have a print copy of a 2013 map produced by National Geographic called “If All the Ice Melted.” The map depicts the world if all 5 million cubic miles of ice on Earth melted, causing sea levels to rise 216 feet. A sea level rise of this magnitude would flood the all of New York, London, Venice, Baghdad, Shanghai, Tokyo, and the entire state of Florida (which would really change its shape!) You can view an online, interactive version at the National Geographic’s website.

We also have several atlases that focus on issues surrounding climate change. The “World Atlas of Atmospheric Pollution” provides a thorough history of anthropogenic air pollution, ozone depletion, and stark details about the health impacts of air pollution on humans. If you want information about water pollution, you could consult the “Atlas of America’s Polluted Waters.” This atlas provides maps of U.S. states that do not meet water quality standards as stated by section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.

Herblock. “We Can Even Improve On Turning Things Over to the States—We Can Let the Industries Regulate Themselves,” 1995.  Published in the Washington Post, May 19, 1995. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Herblock. “We Can Even Improve On Turning Things Over to the States—We Can Let the Industries Regulate Themselves,” 1995. Published in the Washington Post, May 19, 1995. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Other resources across the library include a online exhibit of works from the four-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Herbert L. Block, and photographers who “intended to provoke reaction and inspire change.” To read more about the exhibit, check out the Prints & Photographs Division 2013 blog post dedicated to the exhibit, “Down to Earth.”

The Cold Regions Bibliography Project may be of interest to anyone seeking information about publications on how climate change is affecting the Earth’s polar regions. The compilation of the Cold Regions Bibliography Project and its database started at the Science and Technology Division of the Library of Congress in the 1950s, under the sponsorship of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. The Science and Technology Division also has a comprehensive Guide to Climate Change and Global Warming, which includes reference works, journal articles, conference proceedings, and dissertations available in their Division.

Global climate change affects all of us. To quote Thomas Jefferson, founding father of the Library of Congress, “the field of [knowledge] is the common property of all mankind.” We  hope the Library of Congress can freely provide access to materials to assist you in your research.