Climate Change

Guide to climate change, including research resources and discipline-specific tools

Information sources for researching climate change

Photo of a hand with a pen and papersInformation about climate change is available in many formats, ranging from Twitter threads to official reports from intergovernmental agencies. Some information is targeted to the general public, while other resources are written for fellow professionals with very specific expertise. Most of the information you encounter online will be reliable, but some may be biased or misleading; and some may be downright false (see the tab for Denial).

This page provides information about researching climate change, including recommended sources and research strategies. See below for guidance about:

  • Getting started—general research tips
  • Reports from government and intergovernmental organizations
  • Peer-reviewed research articles
  • News sources
  • Reliable web sources
  • Books and ebooks
  • Videos

Most college research projects require using a variety of types of sources. You may want to Ask a Librarian or your instructor for advice about the best types of sources for your particular assignment.

Getting started: general information research tips

Some general research tips and resources: 

  • Focus and narrow your topic: For any research project, a focused, narrow topic is easier to research and write or speak about than a large one (or an enormous one like climate change!). Instead of writing about "what is climate change?" you could narrow your focus, for example, on the effect of climate change on Oregon snow packs, or how climate anxiety affects teenagers, or on the carbon footprint of fast fashion, or the promise of electrifying the transportation system.
  • Start with a simple web search: Before researching your topic, take some time to "pre-search" it. A simple web search is usually a good way to start your explorations. Read some background sources, such as a Wikipedia article if available. Learning about specific themes within your broader topic might help you focus and narrow your topic. This background research will also introduce you to the vocabulary that will provide useful search terms as you go deeper.
  • Go deeper: Once your topic is narrowed and you are ready to research more deeply, scroll down to find some types of sources that may be useful for your specific assignment.
  • Learn more about the research process: Find more information about strategies for successful research: The Research Process
  • Ask a Librarian for assistance at any step in the process. 

Reports from government and intergovernmental organizations

Climate science is incredibly complex, and draws on research from experts in many disciplines including climatology, oceanography, geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, etc. The most comprehensive reports on the state of the climate are produced by government and intergovernmental agencies. For example:

Peer reviewed research articles

Peer review is the gold standard of reliability for research conducted by scientists and social scientists in all disciplines. Articles in peer reviewed journals are written for an audience of other experts in that discipline.  If you are new to peer reviewed research articles, start with these links:

These databases are good sources for locating peer reviewed research. Ask a Librarian which database is best for your research topic, and what search strategies work best with that database.

University research and resources

Colleges and universities conduct research and publish reports and articles as part of their mission.  Some recommended university sites:

News and magazine sources

Professional journalists can provide summaries of complex reports and issues so that they are accessible to the general public. Here are some news sources that provide good reporting on climate issues.

You can search for particular topics from a favorite news source from the site's search tool, or by adding site:(web address) to your search string.  For example: electric vehicles site:opb.org  or carbon sequestration site:aljazeera.com

Reliable web sources

Hundreds of excellent websites are available with reliable information on various aspects of climate change. If you would like assistance confirming that a website is reliable, you can Ask a Librarian, or consult this list of strategies for evaluating sources. Here are a few highly recommended sources.

Books and ebooks

If a book is available on your topic, that means someone has already researched, organized and compiled large amounts of relevant information, which can make your research much easier!  Find print and ebooks in the library catalog.  For example:

Videos

Documentaries, tutorials, TED Talks and other video sources are available on almost all aspects of climate change. For example: