What is climate and why does it change?

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"Climate" is a very general term that has a variety of closely related meanings. Usually, "climate" refers to the average, or typical, weather conditions observed over a long period of time for a given area. For instance, the climate of Wisconsin in the winter is cold, with occasional snow. The climate of the tropical oceans is warm and humid, with occasional showers or thunderstorms. Climate variations can occur from year to year, or one decade to another, one century to another or any longer time scale.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about what causes climate variations, with some of the factors being: variations in the sun, changes in ocean circulation, changes in land cover types, the production of greenhouse gases by mankind's burning of fossil fuels, and the role of man-made aerosols on cloud formation. The global mean climate changes because the amount of net energy that enters the climate system changes in time. The Earth receives energy from the sun. Part of this energy is transformed into heat. The total amount of solar energy that is transformed into heat is not always the same because:
  • The amount of energy that the Sun radiates is not always the same
  • The orbit of the Earth around the Sun is not always the same
  • The composition of the atmosphere is not always the same
  • The reflection of sunlight at the Earth's surface (albedo) is not always the same
  • The amount of cloud cover is not always the same
The Earth also receives energy from the atmosphere in the form of infrared radiation. Without the atmosphere, the Earth would only receive solar radiation and the temperature on Earth would be much lower. The warming of the Earth as a result of the infrared radiation of the atmosphere to the Earth is called the greenhouse effect. This greenhouse effect does not always have the same intensity because:
  • The amount of cloud cover is not always the same
  • The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is not always the same
Furthermore the Earth loses energy to space in the form of infrared radiation. This amount of radiation depends on the temperature. The global mean temperature adjusts in such a way that the mean amount of energy that enters the Earth-atmosphere system (in the form of solar radiation) balances to the amount that leaves the atmosphere (in the form of infrared radiation). These processes mentioned above do not operate independent of each other but can strengthen or weaken each other. If the temperature of the atmosphere rises, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increases which results in an increase of the amount of infrared radiation to the Earth (the greenhouse effect is strengthened). This will reinforce the initial temperature rise. Such reinforcement is called a positive feedback. In this example one speaks of the water vapor feedback. Another important feedback is the snow albedo-feedback. When the temperature of the atmosphere falls, more snow remains on the Earth's surface. More sunlight is reflected and the initial temperature drop will be reinforced. This last feedback is an essential link in the onset of ice ages. A rather uncertain feedback is the cloud feedback. Clouds reflect the sunlight and thus have a cooling effect on the climate. Night clouds however diminish the amount of infrared radiation to space and thus have a warming effect on the climate. Moreover this effect on the infrared radiation strongly depends on the temperature and thus the height at which the cloud is situated. Because it is by no means clear how the cloud distribution responds to temperature changes, there is a lot of uncertainty about the nature and strength of the cloud feedback and it behaves very different in the different climate models. Because of atmospheric and ocean currents there is a constant redistribution of heat over the Earth's surface. Changes in these currents can cause large climate fluctuations in certain regions. The variations in the mean temperature of a certain region are generally much bigger than the variations of the global mean temperature. In the climate simulations of this project we prescribe the following so called climate forcing:
  • the amount of energy that the sun radiated from 1940 to 2000
  • the amount of volcanic dust in the atmosphere between 1940 and 2000
  • the amount of sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere between 1940 and 2000
  • the concentration of greenhouse gases between 1940 and 2080
For the first three forcing we set the values for the years after 2000 to the year 2000 values. For the concentration of greenhouse gases in the years after 2000, of which CO2 is the most important, we use the 'business as usual' scenario, in which the world continues to burn fossil fuels undiminished and as a result, the concentration of CO2 continuously increases. "Climate" is a very general term that has a variety of closely related meanings. Usually, "climate" refers to the average, or typical, weather conditions observed over a long period of time for a given area. For instance, the climate of Wisconsin in the winter is cold, with occasional snow. The climate of the tropical oceans is warm and humid, with occasional showers or thunderstorms. Climate variations can occur from year to year, or one decade to another, one century to another or any longer time scale.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about what causes climate variations, with some of the factors being: variations in the sun, changes in ocean circulation, changes in land cover types, the production of greenhouse gases by mankind's burning of fossil fuels, and the role of man-made aerosols on cloud formation. The global mean climate changes because the amount of net energy that enters the climate system changes in time. The Earth receives energy from the sun. Part of this energy is transformed into heat. The total amount of solar energy that is transformed into heat is not always the same because:
  • The amount of energy that the Sun radiates is not always the same
  • The orbit of the Earth around the Sun is not always the same
  • The composition of the atmosphere is not always the same
  • The reflection of sunlight at the Earth's surface (albedo) is not always the same
  • The amount of cloud cover is not always the same
The Earth also receives energy from the atmosphere in the form of infrared radiation. Without the atmosphere, the Earth would only receive solar radiation and the temperature on Earth would be much lower. The warming of the Earth as a result of the infrared radiation of the atmosphere to the Earth is called the greenhouse effect. This greenhouse effect does not always have the same intensity because:
  • The amount of cloud cover is not always the same
  • The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is not always the same
Furthermore the Earth loses energy to space in the form of infrared radiation. This amount of radiation depends on the temperature. The global mean temperature adjusts in such a way that the mean amount of energy that enters the Earth-atmosphere system (in the form of solar radiation) balances to the amount that leaves the atmosphere (in the form of infrared radiation). These processes mentioned above do not operate independent of each other but can strengthen or weaken each other. If the temperature of the atmosphere rises, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increases which results in an increase of the amount of infrared radiation to the Earth (the greenhouse effect is strengthened). This will reinforce the initial temperature rise. Such reinforcement is called a positive feedback. In this example one speaks of the water vapor feedback. Another important feedback is the snow albedo-feedback. When the temperature of the atmosphere falls, more snow remains on the Earth's surface. More sunlight is reflected and the initial temperature drop will be reinforced. This last feedback is an essential link in the onset of ice ages. A rather uncertain feedback is the cloud feedback. Clouds reflect the sunlight and thus have a cooling effect on the climate. Night clouds however diminish the amount of infrared radiation to space and thus have a warming effect on the climate. Moreover this effect on the infrared radiation strongly depends on the temperature and thus the height at which the cloud is situated. Because it is by no means clear how the cloud distribution responds to temperature changes, there is a lot of uncertainty about the nature and strength of the cloud feedback and it behaves very different in the different climate models. Because of atmospheric and ocean currents there is a constant redistribution of heat over the Earth's surface. Changes in these currents can cause large climate fluctuations in certain regions. The variations in the mean temperature of a certain region are generally much bigger than the variations of the global mean temperature. In the climate simulations of this project we prescribe the following so called climate forcing:
  • the amount of energy that the sun radiated from 1940 to 2000
  • the amount of volcanic dust in the atmosphere between 1940 and 2000
  • the amount of sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere between 1940 and 2000
  • the concentration of greenhouse gases between 1940 and 2080
For the first three forcing we set the values for the years after 2000 to the year 2000 values. For the concentration of greenhouse gases in the years after 2000, of which CO2 is the most important, we use the 'business as usual' scenario, in which the world continues to burn fossil fuels undiminished and as a result, the concentration of CO2 continuously increases.
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Why is there climate change?

Climate change is occurring due to the increased presence of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, which are the most recognized "greenhouse" gases . These are causing

What is climate change?

C limate change refers to the waythe world's climate changes over time. In the past the climate haschanged, but that change has been very slow, taking many thousandsof years

How do you change the climate?

We are changing the climate by the burning of fossil fuels (coal,oil and natural gas) in industry, transport and the generation ofelectricity, which releases carbon dioxide.

Why the change of climate?

The climate change is mainly because of people neglecting the rulesfor our society's and environment's. People hardly walk to whereverthey need to go now, because of cars, thi

How is the climate changing?

The climate is getting much warmer, this means sea levels arerising lots of ice will melt in the arctic, theres increasing airtemperatures and ocean temperatures infact global

What is changing the climate?

Deforestation. Destroying forests releases carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and removes trees that used to take CO 2 from the atmosphere. . Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natura

Who is changing the climate?

We are! When we use our cars and waste energy, it all contributes to climate change! Most climate scientists agree that man is directly responsible for climate change. The

Is your climate changing?

Yes. Average temperatures are definitely getting warmer, especially in summer, although there appears to be some localised cooling in winter. There has been more violent storm

What changes climate?

Global warming is changing the climate. More heat in the atmosphere means more energy, and that is dissipated in different ways, with more extreme weather events like droughts

Why do you have climate change?

We have climate change because we have been unable to stop globalwarming. We began burning coal in the Industrial Revolution, 200years ago, and levels of greenhouse gases in t

How can you change climate?

The climate can only be changed by years and years of massive pollution, which the earth is in a state of. A: There is substantial evidence that man can influence climat

Why has the climate change?

There are natural changes in our climate. These are caused by: . variations in the energy from the sun . the way the earth orbits the sun . the way oceans transfer heat fr

Can climate change?

Yes. Climate is influenced by many factors such as greenhouse gassconsentration, aerosol concentration, solar output, variations inearth's orbit, and even the configuration of

Why the climate change?

It's a combination of natural and artificial events. The Earth isstill 'coming out' of the last ice-age that cooled the planet -therefore the temperatures will gradually rise