Climate change occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period of time. This length of time can be as short as a few decades to as long as millions of years. Scientists have identified many episodes of climate change during Earth's geological history; more recently since the industrial revolution the climate has increasingly been affected by human activities driving global warming, and the terms are commonly used interchangeably in that context.The climate system receives nearly all of its energy from the sun. The climate system also gives off energy to outer space. The balance of incoming and outgoing energy, and the passage of the energy through the climate system, determines Earth's energy budget. When the incoming energy is greater than the outgoing energy, earth's energy budget is positive and the climate system is warming. If more energy goes out, the energy budget is negative and earth experiences cooling.
The energy moving through Earth's climate system finds expression in weather, varying on geographic scales and time. Long-term averages and variability of weather in a region constitute the region's climate. Climate change is a long-term, sustained trend of change in climate. Such changes can be the result of "internal variability", when natural processes inherent to the various parts of the climate system alter the distribution of energy. Examples include variability in ocean basins such as the Pacific decadal oscillation and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. Climate change can also result from external forcing, when events outside of the climate system's components nonetheless produce changes within the system. Examples include changes in solar output and volcanism.
Climate change has various consequences for sea level changes, plant life, and mass extinctions; it also affects human societies.
- Jun 15, 2021
- Climate Change