You are on page 1of 30

Climate change

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For current global climate change, see Global warming. For past climate change, see paleoclimatology and geologic temperature record.

Atmospheric sciences

Aerology Atmospheric physics Atmospheric dynamics (category) Atmospheric chemistry (category) Meteorology Weather (category) · (portal) Tropical cyclone (category) Climatology Climate (category) Climate change (category) Global warming (category) · (portal) v·d·e

Climate change is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in

the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole Earth. In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate. It may be qualified as anthropogenic climate change, more generally known as global warming or anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Contents
[hide]
• •

• • • •

1 Terminology 2 Causes o 2.1 Human influences o 2.2 Plate tectonics o 2.3 Solar output o 2.4 Orbital variations o 2.5 Volcanism o 2.6 Ocean variability 3 Physical evidence for climatic change o 3.1 Historical and archaeological evidence o 3.2 Glaciers o 3.3 Vegetation o 3.4 Ice cores o 3.5 Dendroclimatology o 3.6 Pollen analysis o 3.7 Insects o 3.8 Sea level change 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

Terminology
The most general definition of climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over periods of decades or longer, regardless of cause.[1][2] Accordingly, fluctuations on periods shorter than a few decades, such as El Niño, do not represent climate change. The term sometimes is used to refer specifically to climate change caused by human activity; for example, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines climate change as "a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to

human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods."[3] In the latter sense climate change is synonymous with global warming.

Causes
Factors that can shape climate are climate forcings. These include such processes as variations in solar radiation, deviations in the Earth's orbit, mountain-building and continental drift, and changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. There are a variety of climate change feedbacks that can either amplify or diminish the initial forcing. Some parts of the climate system, such as the oceans and ice caps, respond slowly in reaction to climate forcing because of their large mass. Therefore, the climate system can take centuries or longer to fully respond to new external forcings.

Human influences
Main article: Global warming

Increase in Atmospheric CO2 Levels In the context of climate variation, anthropogenic factors are human activities which affect the climate. The scientific consensus on climate change is, "that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities." [4] “Science has made enormous inroads in understanding climate change and its causes, and is beginning to help develop a strong understanding of current and potential impacts that will affect people today and in coming decades. This understanding is crucial because it allows decision makers to place climate change in the context of other large challenges facing the nation and the world. There are still some uncertainties, and there always will be in understanding a complex system like Earth’s climate. Nevertheless, there is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.” — United States National Research Council , Advancing the Science of Climate Change

the debate is shifting onto ways to reduce further human impact and to find ways to adapt to change that has already occurred[5] and is anticipated to occur in the future. The locations of the seas are important in controlling the transfer of heat and moisture across the globe. and therefore. and measures of climate variables. the motion of tectonic plates reconfigures global land and ocean areas and generates topography.[9][10] During the Carboniferous period. including land use. plate tectonics may have triggered large-scale storage of carbon and increased glaciation.[6] Of most concern in these anthropogenic factors is the increase in CO2 levels due to emissions from fossil fuel combustion. in determining global climate. A larger supercontinent will therefore have more area in which climate is strongly seasonal than will several smaller continents or islands. Other factors. A recent example of tectonic control on ocean circulation is the formation of the Isthmus of Panama about 5 million years ago. about 300 to 360 million years ago. Solar output Main article: Solar variation . are also of concern in the roles they play .[8] The position of the continents determines the geometry of the oceans and therefore influences patterns of ocean circulation. This strongly affected the ocean dynamics of what is now the Gulf Stream and may have led to Northern Hemisphere ice cover. Plate tectonics Over the course of millions of years.in affecting climate.[11] Geologic evidence points to a "megamonsoonal" circulation pattern during the time of the supercontinent Pangaea. ozone depletion.both separately and in conjunction with other factors . animal agriculture[7] and deforestation.[12] The size of continents is also important. followed by aerosols (particulate matter in the atmosphere) and cement manufacture. yearly temperature variations are generally lower in coastal areas than they are inland. This can affect both global and local patterns of climate and atmosphere-ocean circulation. and climate modeling suggests that the existence of the supercontinent was conducive to the establishment of monsoons.Consequently. microclimate. which shut off direct mixing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Because of the stabilizing effect of the oceans on temperature.

These changes in luminosity. There is very little change to the area-averaged annually averaged sunshine. these produce Milankovitch cycles which have a large impact on climate and are notable for their correlation to glacial and interglacial periods.[24] their correlation with the advance and retreat of the Sahara. liquid water should not have existed on Earth.[24] and for their appearance in the stratigraphic record.[20] and some of the warming observed from 1900 to 1950. The cyclical nature of the sun's energy output is not yet fully understood. including the 11-year solar cycle[18] and longer-term modulations. leading to what is known as the faint young sun paradox. Combined together. in the Hadean[13][14] and Archean[15][13] eons. Three to four billion years ago the sun emitted only 70% as much power as it does today. Both long. The three types of orbital variations are variations in Earth's eccentricity.4 billion years ago being the most notable alteration. with the red giant phase possibly ending life on Earth. it differs from the very slow change that is happening within the sun as it ages and evolves.” Orbital variations Main article: Milankovitch cycles Slight variations in Earth's orbit lead to changes in the seasonal distribution of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface and how it is distributed across the globe. will have large effects on climate. with much higher concentrations of greenhouse gases than currently exist[17] Over the following approximately 4 billion years. However.[21] [22] Interestingly. and the sun's ultimate death as it becomes a red giant and then a white dwarf. there is evidence for the presence of water on the early Earth.and shortterm variations in solar intensity are known to affect global climate. the energy output of the sun increased and atmospheric composition changed. and precession of Earth's axis.[19] Solar intensity variations are considered to have been influential in triggering the Little Ice Age. The sun is the predominant source for energy input to the Earth.[16] Hypothesized solutions to this paradox include a vastly different atmosphere. Solar output also varies on shorter time scales. While most research indicates solar variability has induced a small cooling effect from 1750 to the present.Variations in solar activity during the last several centuries based on observations of sunspots and beryllium isotopes. with the oxygenation of the atmosphere around 2. changes in the tilt angle of Earth's axis of rotation. a few studies point toward solar radiation increases from cyclical sunspot activity affecting global warming. a 2010 study[23] suggests. but there can be strong changes in the geographical and seasonal distribution. If the atmospheric composition had been the same as today.[25] Volcanism . “that the effects of solar variability on temperature throughout the atmosphere may be contrary to current expectations.

[28] Much larger eruptions. the North Atlantic oscillation. alterations to ocean processes such as thermohaline circulation play a key role in redistributing heat by carrying out a very slow and extremely deep movement of water. and the Arctic oscillation. counteracting the uptake by sedimentary rocks and other geological carbon dioxide sinks. however. For earlier periods. they release carbon dioxide from the Earth's crust and mantle. most of the .Volcanism is a process of conveying material from the crust and mantle of the Earth to its surface. According to the US Geological Survey. Physical evidence for climatic change Evidence for climatic change is taken from a variety of sources that can be used to reconstruct past climates. and the long-term redistribution of heat in the world's oceans. and hot springs.[29] Volcanoes are also part of the extended carbon cycle. but may cause global warming and mass extinctions. occur only a few times every hundred million years. Over very long (geological) time periods. are examples of volcanic processes which release gases and/or particulates into the atmosphere. known as large igneous provinces. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. On longer time scales. Eruptions large enough to affect climate occur on average several times per century. the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century[26] (after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta[27]) affected the climate substantially.9 °F). Volcanic eruptions.5 °C (0. Reasonably complete global records of surface temperature are available beginning from the mid-late 19th century. The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 caused the Year Without a Summer. the Pacific decadal oscillation. geysers. and cause cooling (by partially blocking the transmission of solar radiation to the Earth's surface) for a period of a few years. represent climate variability rather than climate change. Short-term fluctuations (years to a few decades) such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.[30] Ocean variability Main article: Thermohaline circulation A schematic of modern thermohaline circulation The ocean is a fundamental part of the climate system. estimates are that human activities generate 100-300 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes. Global temperatures decreased by about 0.

sea level change.[32] Glaciers Variations in CO2. Glaciers grow and shrink due both to natural variability and external forcings. temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 450. oral history and historical documents can offer insights into past changes in the climate. Historical and archaeological evidence Main article: Historical impacts of climate change Climate change in the recent past may be detected by corresponding changes in settlement and agricultural patterns. such as vegetation. precipitation.evidence is indirect—climatic changes are inferred from changes in proxies. ice cores. the converse is also true.[31] dendrochronology.000 years Decline in thickness of glaciers worldwide Glaciers are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change. indicators that reflect climate. one must average .[32] Archaeological evidence. Therefore. Variability in temperature.[33] Their size is determined by a mass balance between snow input and melt output. Climate change effects have been linked to the collapse of various civilisations. glaciers retreat unless snow precipitation increases to make up for the additional melt. and englacial and subglacial hydrology can strongly determine the evolution of a glacier in a particular season. and glacial geology. As temperatures warm.

may result in vegetation stress. the lack of glacier cover can be identified by the presence of soil or volcanic tephra horizons whose date of deposit may also be ascertained. has affected plant growth. faster or more radical changes.[35] Shaped by orbital variations. responses such as the rise and fall of continental ice sheets and significant sea-level changes helped create the climate. Dansgaard–Oeschger events and the Younger Dryas. distribution and coverage of vegetation may occur given a change in the climate. resulting in improved plant growth and the subsequent sequestration of airborne CO2. a mild change in climate may result in increased precipitation and warmth.000 km2. and potassium that may be dated—recording the periods in which a glacier advanced and retreated.[34] The most significant climate processes since the middle to late Pliocene (approximately 3 million years ago) are the glacial and interglacial cycles. This compilation tracks more than 100. In any given scenario. A change in the type. associated with increased carbon dioxide levels. Similarly.000 km2. and again retreating from the mid 1980s to present. The World Glacier Monitoring Service collects data annually on glacier retreat and glacier mass balance From this data. Larger. however. by tephrochronological techniques.000 glaciers covering a total area of approximately 240. A world glacier inventory has been compiled since the 1970s. The present interglacial period (the Holocene) has lasted about 11.700 years. Glaciers leave behind moraines that contain a wealth of material—including organic matter.[36] . however. Other changes.over a decadal or longer time-scale and/or over a many individual glaciers to smooth out the local short-term variability and obtain a glacier history that is related to climate. stable or growing conditions during the 1920s and 1970s. illustrate how glacial variations may also influence climate without the orbital forcing. initially based mainly on aerial photographs and maps but now relying more on satellites. quartz. this much is obvious. including Heinrich events. Vegetation This video summarizes how climate change. and preliminary estimates indicate that the remaining ice cover is around 445. with strong glacier retreats in the 1940s. rapid plant loss and desertification in certain circumstances. glaciers worldwide have been found to be shrinking significantly.

Different groups of plants have pollen with distinctive shapes and surface textures. and the age of the sediments in which remains are found. Palynology is used to infer the geographical distribution of plant species. past climatic conditions may be inferred. well before modern environmental influences. including pollen. Wide and thick rings indicate a fertile. well-watered growing period. Pollen analysis Palynology is the study of contemporary and fossil palynomorphs. scientists have dated coral .Ice cores Analysis of ice in a core drilled from a ice sheet such as the Antarctic ice sheet. can be used to show a link between temperature and global sea level variations. whilst thin. which vary under different climate conditions.[37][38] As an example. Different species of beetles tend to be found under different climatic conditions. bogs. and continues to provide valuable information about the differences between ancient and modern atmospheric conditions. and since the outer surface of pollen is composed of a very resilient material. The study of these ice cores has been a significant indicator of the changes in CO2 over many millennia. they resist decay. narrow rings indicate a time of lower rainfall and less-than-ideal growing conditions. Changes in the type of pollen found in different layers of sediment in lakes. Dendroclimatology Dendroclimatology is the analysis of tree ring growth patterns to determine past climate variations. altimeter measurements — in combination with accurately determined satellite orbits — have provided an improved measurement of global sea level change. knowledge of the present climatic range of the different species. More recently. The air trapped in bubbles in the ice can also reveal the CO2 variations of the atmosphere from the distant past.[41] Sea level change Main articles: Sea level and Current sea level rise Global sea level change for much of the last century has generally been estimated using tide gauge measurements collated over long periods of time to give a long-term average.[42] To measure sea levels prior to instrumental measurements. These changes are often a sign of a changing climate. palynological studies have been used to track changing vegetation patterns throughout the Quaternary glaciations[39] and especially since the last glacial maximum. Given the extensive lineage of beetles whose genetic makeup has not altered significantly over the millennia. or river deltas indicate changes in plant communities.[40] Insects Remains of beetles are common in freshwater and land sediments.

"Appendix I – Glossary". ^ Houghton. ed (2001).html. . coastal sediments. ooids in limestones. See also General • • • • • • • • • Attribution of recent climate change Paleoclimatology and links therein Abrupt climate change and links therein Atmospheric physics Climate change in literature Geologic time scale Glossary of climate change List of climate change topics Temperature record Wikinews has news related to: Climate change Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Climate change Environment portal Energy portal Climate of recent glaciations • • • Bond event Dansgaard-Oeschger event Younger Dryas Climate of the deep past • • • Recent climate • • • • • • • • Faint young sun paradox Oxygen catastrophe Snowball Earth Climate of the last 500 million years • • Ice ages Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum Permo–Carboniferous Glaciation Anthropocene Global warming Hardiness Zone Migration Holocene Climatic Optimum Little Ice Age Medieval Warm Period Temperature record of the past 1000 years Year Without a Summer • References 1. Climate change 2001: the scientific basis: contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2. with cosmogenic radionuclides being sometimes used to date terraces that have experienced relative sea level fall.org/arcticmet/glossary/climate_change. Education Center – Arctic Climatology and Meteorology. ^ "Glossary – Climate Change". marine terraces. NSIDC National Snow and Ice Data Center. The predominant dating methods used are uranium series and radiocarbon. John Theodore. http://nsidc. and nearshore archaeological remains.reefs that grow near the surface of the ocean.

CO.do? id=2508. doi:10. Parrish (1993). P.. 13. PMID 15879213. 5. "Isotope stratigraphy of the European Carboniferous: proxy signals for ocean chemistry. doi:10. Susanne Oesmanna. Chemical Geology 161 (1-3): 127. personal carbon trading.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images. ^ doi:10.php?record_id=12782. ^ Judith T. ^ "Panama: Isthmus that Changed the World".1110873. ISSN 0036-8075. 8.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00. 21 March 1994. National Research Council (2010).1016/S0009-2541(99)00084-4. National Research Council (2010).. Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. WHOI: Oceanus. ^ See for example emissions trading. ^ Gerald H. climate and tectonics". Tm (May 2005).jstor. ^ a b Marty. http://www.org/pss/30081148.18.whoi. UNFCCC 6. "How the Isthmus of Panama Put Ice in the Arctic".C.fao. UK: Cambridge University Press.nasa. "Surface-water influx in shallow-level Archean lode-gold deposits in Western. doi:10.edu/catalog.62.php. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 62: 421. You can jump the queue or expand by hand 9. ^ Watson.3. Advancing the Science of Climate Change. Gebre-Mariam.htm. D. 4.ipcc. "Zircon thermometer reveals minimum melting conditions on earliest Earth. Castel.CO. doi:10. http://earthobservatory. Musie. . http://www. Science 308 (5723): 841–4.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.". David I. Eb. B.. 3. T. 7. "Water in the Early Earth". M. Rosales. ^ "The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change". ISBN 0309145880. Steffen G.2006. ^ America's Climate Choices: Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change. cap and share. 15. "Climate of the Supercontinent Pangea".nap.Cambridge.nap. Retrieved 2009-07-21. Groves.int/essential_background/convention/background/items/1349.php3? img_id=16401. NASA Earth Observatory. http://www. 11. ^ Steinfeld. ^ America's Climate Choices: Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. Chemical Geology (The University of Chicago Press) 101 (2): 215–233. de Haan (2006). Haug (2004-03-22).: The National Academies Press. ISBN 0309145910.edu/catalog. http://www. C. Gerber. Livestock's long shadow.C. Washington. 10. 12.1130/00917613(1994)022<1067:SWIISL>2.php?record_id=12783. V. Geology 22: 1067. (2006). ^ Hagemann. Retrieved 2008-07-01. Harrison.2138/rmg. Wassenaar. Ján Veizer (1999-09-30). (1994).2. ISBN 0-521-80767-0. Washington. http://www.1130/0016-7606(1999)111<0497:PIAPAB>2.2 This citation will be automatically completed in the next few minutes. http://www. H.com/science? _ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V5Y-3XNK4948&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C00005 0221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=7db7616e9dc94e6ed49a8 17195926851. 14.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/518. http://www. ^ Peter Bruckschen.1126/science. Australia".3. D.sciencedirect.: The National Academies Press.HTM. http://unfccc.

^ "Solar Irradiance Changes and the Relatively Recent Climate". U.org/cgi/content/abstract/177/4043/52?ck=nck. http://www.1989. ISSN 00280836. Richard C.1038/nature09426.16.homepage. http://books. 25. Hildreth. http://www. Philippines". Washington. University of Montana.1365-3121..edu/~geol445/hyperglac/time1/milankov. ^ Adams. Lett. Mordvinov (2003).S. 21. Wes (2006).php? record_id=4778&page=36. 22.276. doi:10. p. or to fully characterize other solar cycles. . ^ Willson.C: National Academy Press. D. Michael (28 February 2005). Sarah A. G. "The transition from explosive to effusive eruptive regime: The example of the 1912 Novarupta eruption.1038/351042a0. ^ Gale. 2003. Andrew S. http://www.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL038429. United States Geological Survey. 30 (5): 1199. Houghton. 23. Bruce F. Geophys. Ralf Toumi. 20.1038/nature09426. http://www. Res.html. 36.x. ^ Willson. http://www. "An influence of solar spectral variations on radiative forcing of climate".edu/openbook. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 113-97. Nature 467 (7316): 696–699.doi. 26. but our findings raise the possibility that the effects of solar variability on temperature throughout the atmosphere may be contrary to current expectations.. http://www. Jerald W. 36: L15101. 24. Terra Nova 1: 420.. "Cosmic ray decreases affect atmospheric aerosols and clouds".". Lett.1029/2002GL016038.1130/B25768. C. Geological Society of America Bulletin 118: 620. Earth and Mars: Evolution of Atmospheres and Surface Temperatures. doi:10. Nature 351: 42–44.nature. Hudson (1991-05-02). 19.nasa.org/pubs/crossref/2003/2002GL016038. "The Cataclysmic 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo. ^ Svensmark H.agu.sciencemag. (1989). http://dx.. "The Early Faint Sun Paradox: Organic Shielding of Ultraviolet-Labile Greenhouse Gases".. doi:10. ^ "NASA Study Finds Increasing Solar Trend That Can Change Climate". "Currently there is insufficient observational evidence to validate the spectral variations observed by SIM. Retrieved 2009-04-02. "Secular total solar irradiance trend during solar cycles 21–23". Alexander V. Retrieved 2009-10-08. Joanna D. ISBN 0-309-05148-7.agu. Mullen (1972).tb00403.com/nature/journal/v351/n6321/abs/351042a0. C (1997). doi:10.htm. ^ a b "Milankovitch Cycles and Glaciation". doi:10.5316. Chyba. Richard C. Science 276 (5316): 1217–21. ^ Haigh.1. ^ Sagan.. Retrieved 2011-03-04.html. Nancy K. doi:10.1217. 18. Hugh S.1126/science. "A Milankovitch scale for Cenomanian time". ^ Sagan. Solar influences on global change.shtml.gov/fs/1997/fs113-97/..1029/2009GL038429.shtml.1111/j. Ann R. http://pubs. 1994. Res. Alaska". Harder (2010-10-07).gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/0313irradiance.org/10. 17. ^ Diggles.usgs. doi:10. Fagents. "The Sun's luminosity over a complete solar cycle". PMID 11536805. Svensmark J (2009). Winning.montana.. 27. C.nap. Geophys. Bondo T.

doi:10. 38. Ecosystems 4: 164–185. 29.Roer.1016/S0277-3791(02)00248-2. 32. "Reconstructing climate and environmental change in northern England through chironomid and pollen analyses: evidence from Talkin Tarn.stratigraphy.html. 34. ^ Wignall. M. R. (1999-06-03).Paul.1023/B:JOPL. J.edu/~peter/Resources/Publications/deMenocal.1038/20859. environmental and human consequences of the largest known historic eruption: Tambora volcano (Indonesia) 1815".R. ^ Seiz.gov/usgcrp/Library/nationalassessment/forests/Ecosystems2% 20Bachelet. 2006-01-10.1016/S0012-8252(00)00037-4.pdf. 39. Cumbria".columbia.html. doi:10. http://www. . edit 33. doi:10.com/science/article/B6VBC-47YH3W82/2/fde5760538b5b3adb92d8564ea968b9a. Antarctica".Drapek (2001). doi:10. F. 36. 2008. . I. ^ a b Demenocal. Humberto Ruiloba M.Global Glacier Changes: facts and figures. I. PMID 11303088. Basile.com/nature/journal/v399/n6735/full/399429a0. Davis et al. "Palynology of a 250-m core from Lake Biwa: a 430. (Report). ^ Petit RA..1016/S0034-6667(98)00058-X. http://volcanoes. Foppa (2007) The activities of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). "Climatic. Retrieved 2009-06-21. B. doi:10.sciencedirect. M.-M. doi:10. Journal of Paleolimnology 32 (2): 197–213.com/content/t7m324u675701133/.0000029433. http://www. Bressani R. "Cultural Responses to Climate Change During the Late Holocene".springerlink. USA". P (2001). "Climate Change Effects on Vegetation Distribution and Carbon Budget in the United States" (PDF). M. "The importance of plant macrofossils in the reconstruction of Lateglacial vegetation and climate: examples from Scotland.a5. M.Lenihan. Lomas-Clarke SH (August 2004). (2001).J. doi:10. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 104: 267.000 years from the Vostok ice core. ^ Langdon.000-year record of glacial–interglacial vegetation change in Japan". ^ Oppenheimer. Department of the Interior. N.2001. (Report).J.org/upload/ISChart2008. D. Retrieved 2009-06-21. U.M. 30. "Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420. ^ Zemp. 37. W.1007/s10021-001-0002-7. Earth-Science Reviews 53: 1. http://www.1059827.usgcrp.Kääb. Retrieved 2008-01-21. P. Quaternary Science Reviews 22 (5-7): 453–473.usgs.ldeo. ^ Bachelet. Progress in Physical Geography 27: 230. and Minnesota. Science 292 (5517): 667–673..28.85764. ^ "Volcanic Gases and Their Effects". Nature 399 (1): 429–436. J. N (1999). http://www. western Norway. doi:10. http://www. Clive (2003).gov/Hazards/What/VolGas/volgas. 31. ^ "International Stratigraphic Chart" (PDF). Barnola. International Commission on Stratigraphy. ^ Birks. Chappellaz. Bender. 35.pdf. PG. ^ Miyoshi.nature.Neilson. A.pd f.S.1126/science.1191/0309133303pp379ra. Haeberli (2008) United Nations Environment Programme . http://www. HH (March 2003). "Large igneous provinces and mass extinctions".Hoelzle. G. Retrieved 2009-07-22.

Ruddiman (2005). Webb. Chen. Princeton. M. A. 31: L23206.pdf. T. Ecology 72 (6): 2038–2056. http://www. Thompson (1991). . N.1023/B:CLIM. Quaternary Science Review 24 (11). Cambridge. "Summary for Policymakers". doi:10.interscience. 42. Cambridge University Press. Spain. S.0000004577. Patrick J. W. plagues. J. ^ Colin Prentice. "Temperature gradients in northern Europe during the last glacial—Holocene transition(14–9 14 C kyr BP) interpreted from coleopteran assemblages". Miller.J: Princeton University Press. 41. "Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years" (PDF). G.org/stable/1941558. Manning. F.com/cgi-bin/abstract/61001707/ABSTRACT. http://www. Ruddiman. Lett. 2007: Summary for Policymakers".L. United Kingdom and New York. Vavrus. I. (2004).0. G.edu/pub/emanuel/PAPERS/NATURE03906.org/pubs/crossref/2004/2004GL021083. ISBN 0-262-63219-5. Geophys. Nature 436 (7051): 686–8.40.edu/documents.ch/pdf/assessmentreport/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm. ftp://texmex. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007-11-12). Miller. K. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis.. J. "IPCC.colorado. Emanuel K (August 2005). ^ "Sea Level Change". Mass: MIT Press. Clark A.wiley. University of Colorado at Boulder. Plows. doi:10.17928. Cambridge. doi:10. Further reading • • • • • • • • D. A. IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). "A note of the relationship between ice core methane concentrations and insolation". S. S. M. "The anthropogenic greenhouse era began thousands of years ago". (2003). W. Changing the atmosphere: expert knowledge and environmental governance. Solomon. F. and petroleum: how humans took control of climate. Ruddiman.fa. M. Z. Schmidt. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. http://jstor. (1999-05-04).. E.mit.2-D.pdf.1029/2004GL021083. Walkling. (2001). Lemdahl. doi:10. Shindel. Marquis. Valencia. and Harder.2307/1941558.R..J.).. ISBN 0-69113398-0. PMID 16056221. Retrieved 2009-07-21. Journal of Quaternary Science 13 (5): 419–433. D.php. and Kutzbach. Qin. USA. http://www...1038/nature03906.1002/(SICI)10991417(1998090)13:5<419::AID-JQS410>3. Averyt. (2005). NY. H. "A test of the overdue-glaciation hypothesis".B.. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Climate Change 61 (3): 261–293. Tignor (eds. http://www3.agu. doi:10.CO. G. William F. Edwards. "Vegetation and Climate Change in Eastern North America Since the Last Glacial Maximum".shtml. Paul Geoffrey. Lowe.ipcc. Bartlein. http://sealevel. J.ipcc. Res.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1spm. ^ Coope.pdf.

and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. University of Auckland Climate Change on In Our Time at the BBC. Stanford University [show]v · d · eClimate changes [show] Temperatures • • • • [show] Causes Anthropogenic Attribution of recent climate change · Aviation · Biofuel · Carbon dioxide · Earth's energy budget · Earth's radiation balance · Fossil fuel · Global dimming · . (listen now) Climate Change Performance Index 2010 List of Climate Change related Organizations Climate Library at Center for Ocean Solutions.External links Listen to this article (info/dl) This audio file was created from a revision of Climate change dated 2010-03-19. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. (Audio help) More spoken articles • • • • • • • • • • Climate Change at the Open Directory Project Climate Change Resources from SourceWatch Climate Change from the UCB Libraries GovPubs Climate Change from the Met Office (UK) Global Climate Change from NASA (US) Ocean Motion: Satellites Record Weakening North Atlantic Current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) United Nations University's 'Our World 2' Climate Change Video Briefs United Nations University's 'Our World 2' Indigenous voices on climate change films Climate Change: Coral Reefs on the Edge An online video presentation by Prof.

Global warming potential · Greenhouse effect · Greenhouse gases · Land use and forestry · Radiative forcing · Urban heat island Albedo · Bond events · Cloud forcing · Feedbacks · Glaciation · Global cooling · Ocean variability (AMO · ENSO · IOD · PDO) · Orbital variations · Orbital forcing · Solar variation · Volcanism Global climate model [show] History [show] Opinion and controversy [show] Politics United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC / FCCC) · Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) · Climate change denial [show] Potential effects and issues General Abrupt climate change · Climate change and agriculture · Climate change and ecosystems · Drought · Economics of global warming · Effects on marine mammals · Fisheries and climate change · Glacier retreat · Mass Natural Models .

extinction · Ozone depletion · Ocean acidification · Plant biodiversity · Poverty · Runaway climate change · Sea level rise · Season creep · Shutdown of thermohaline circulation By country [show] Mitigation Clean Development Mechanism · Joint Implementation · Bali roadmap · Copenhagen Summit G8 Climate Change Roundtable · European Climate Change Programme · United Kingdom Climate Change Programme Coal phase out · Emissions trading · Carbon tax · Carbon offset · Carbon credit Efficient energy use · Renewable energy · Nuclear energy · Carbon capture and storage Geoengineering · Carbon sink · Individual and political action on climate change · Climate change mitigation scenarios [show] Proposed adaptations Damming glacial lakes · Australia · India · United States Kyoto Protocol Governmental Emissions reduction Carbon-free energy Other .

more generally known as global warming or anthropogenic global warming (AGW).4 Orbital variations o 2.2 Plate tectonics o 2.4 Ice cores o 3. for example. Contents [hide] • • • • • • • 1 Terminology 2 Causes o 2. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average.5 Volcanism o 2.3 Solar output o 2.6 Pollen analysis o 3.8 Sea level change 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links .Programmes Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change · Land Allocation Decision Support System is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years.3 Vegetation o 3.1 Human influences o 2. It may be qualified as anthropogenic climate change. greater or fewer extreme weather events. or may occur across the whole Earth. especially in the context of environmental policy. climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate.6 Ocean variability 3 Physical evidence for climatic change o 3. Climate change may be limited to a specific region.1 Historical and archaeological evidence o 3.7 Insects o 3.5 Dendroclimatology o 3.2 Glaciers o 3. In recent usage.

the climate system can take centuries or longer to fully respond to new external forcings. such as El Niño. The scientific consensus on climate change is."[3] In the latter sense climate change is synonymous with global warming. and changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. for example. Some parts of the climate system. regardless of cause. "that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. Causes Factors that can shape climate are climate forcings. The term sometimes is used to refer specifically to climate change caused by human activity. anthropogenic factors are human activities which affect the climate. These include such processes as variations in solar radiation. do not represent climate change. Human influences Main article: Global warming Increase in Atmospheric CO2 Levels In the context of climate variation. and is beginning to help develop a strong understanding of current and potential impacts that will affect people today and in coming decades. the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines climate change as "a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. such as the oceans and ice caps. respond slowly in reaction to climate forcing because of their large mass.[1][2] Accordingly. This understanding is crucial . deviations in the Earth's orbit. fluctuations on periods shorter than a few decades." [4] “Science has made enormous inroads in understanding climate change and its causes.Terminology The most general definition of climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over periods of decades or longer. mountain-building and continental drift. There are a variety of climate change feedbacks that can either amplify or diminish the initial forcing. Therefore.

and there always will be in understanding a complex system like Earth’s climate. and therefore. The locations of the seas are important in controlling the transfer of heat and moisture across the globe. are also of concern in the roles they play . scientific questions. including land use. about 300 to 360 million years ago.[8] The position of the continents determines the geometry of the oceans and therefore influences patterns of ocean circulation. the core phenomenon.[9][10] During the Carboniferous period.[11] Geologic evidence points to a "megamonsoonal" circulation pattern during the time of the supercontinent Pangaea. A larger supercontinent will therefore have more area in which climate . in determining global climate. and measures of climate variables. Other factors. and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.because it allows decision makers to place climate change in the context of other large challenges facing the nation and the world. animal agriculture[7] and deforestation.” — United States National Research Council . A recent example of tectonic control on ocean circulation is the formation of the Isthmus of Panama about 5 million years ago. yearly temperature variations are generally lower in coastal areas than they are inland. Nevertheless. and climate modeling suggests that the existence of the supercontinent was conducive to the establishment of monsoons. ozone depletion. based on multiple lines of research. there is a strong. which shut off direct mixing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. credible body of evidence.in affecting climate. microclimate.both separately and in conjunction with other factors . Advancing the Science of Climate Change Consequently. followed by aerosols (particulate matter in the atmosphere) and cement manufacture. Plate tectonics Over the course of millions of years. plate tectonics may have triggered large-scale storage of carbon and increased glaciation.[6] Of most concern in these anthropogenic factors is the increase in CO2 levels due to emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Because of the stabilizing effect of the oceans on temperature. the motion of tectonic plates reconfigures global land and ocean areas and generates topography. There are still some uncertainties. the debate is shifting onto ways to reduce further human impact and to find ways to adapt to change that has already occurred[5] and is anticipated to occur in the future. While much remains to be learned. This can affect both global and local patterns of climate and atmosphere-ocean circulation.[12] The size of continents is also important. This strongly affected the ocean dynamics of what is now the Gulf Stream and may have led to Northern Hemisphere ice cover.

leading to what is known as the faint young sun paradox. a few studies point toward solar radiation increases from cyclical sunspot activity affecting global warming.[20] and some of the warming observed from 1900 to 1950. liquid water should not have existed on Earth. a 2010 study[23] suggests. the energy output of the sun increased and atmospheric composition changed. Three to four billion years ago the sun emitted only 70% as much power as it does today. The sun is the predominant source for energy input to the Earth. While most research indicates solar variability has induced a small cooling effect from 1750 to the present. it differs from the very slow change that is happening within the sun as it ages and evolves. there is evidence for the presence of water on the early Earth.[19] Solar intensity variations are considered to have been influential in triggering the Little Ice Age.[21] [22] Interestingly. with the oxygenation of the atmosphere around 2.[16] Hypothesized solutions to this paradox include a vastly different atmosphere.is strongly seasonal than will several smaller continents or islands. However. These changes in luminosity. If the atmospheric composition had been the same as today. in the Hadean[13][14] and Archean[15][13] eons. “that the effects of solar variability on temperature throughout the atmosphere may be contrary to current expectations.4 billion years ago being the most notable alteration. with much higher concentrations of greenhouse gases than currently exist[17] Over the following approximately 4 billion years. will have large effects on climate. Solar output also varies on shorter time scales. Solar output Main article: Solar variation Variations in solar activity during the last several centuries based on observations of sunspots and beryllium isotopes. with the red giant phase possibly ending life on Earth. including the 11-year solar cycle[18] and longer-term modulations. The cyclical nature of the sun's energy output is not yet fully understood. and the sun's ultimate death as it becomes a red giant and then a white dwarf.and shortterm variations in solar intensity are known to affect global climate. Both long.” .

changes in the tilt angle of Earth's axis of rotation. geysers.Orbital variations Main article: Milankovitch cycles Slight variations in Earth's orbit lead to changes in the seasonal distribution of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface and how it is distributed across the globe. Over very long (geological) time periods. counteracting the uptake by sedimentary rocks and other geological carbon dioxide sinks. these produce Milankovitch cycles which have a large impact on climate and are notable for their correlation to glacial and interglacial periods.[28] Much larger eruptions. The three types of orbital variations are variations in Earth's eccentricity. known as large igneous provinces. and hot springs.[30] Ocean variability Main article: Thermohaline circulation .9 °F).5 °C (0. There is very little change to the area-averaged annually averaged sunshine. The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 caused the Year Without a Summer. Volcanic eruptions. but may cause global warming and mass extinctions. According to the US Geological Survey.[24] and for their appearance in the stratigraphic record. are examples of volcanic processes which release gases and/or particulates into the atmosphere. and cause cooling (by partially blocking the transmission of solar radiation to the Earth's surface) for a period of a few years. occur only a few times every hundred million years. Eruptions large enough to affect climate occur on average several times per century. Combined together. [29] Volcanoes are also part of the extended carbon cycle. they release carbon dioxide from the Earth's crust and mantle. and precession of Earth's axis. the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century[26] (after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta[27]) affected the climate substantially. however. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.[24] their correlation with the advance and retreat of the Sahara.[25] Volcanism Volcanism is a process of conveying material from the crust and mantle of the Earth to its surface. but there can be strong changes in the geographical and seasonal distribution. Global temperatures decreased by about 0. estimates are that human activities generate 100-300 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes.

represent climate variability rather than climate change.[32] Archaeological evidence. and the Arctic oscillation. oral history and historical documents can offer insights into past changes in the climate. Reasonably complete global records of surface temperature are available beginning from the mid-late 19th century. and the long-term redistribution of heat in the world's oceans. alterations to ocean processes such as thermohaline circulation play a key role in redistributing heat by carrying out a very slow and extremely deep movement of water. On longer time scales. For earlier periods. indicators that reflect climate.A schematic of modern thermohaline circulation The ocean is a fundamental part of the climate system. Physical evidence for climatic change Evidence for climatic change is taken from a variety of sources that can be used to reconstruct past climates. the North Atlantic oscillation. Short-term fluctuations (years to a few decades) such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. ice cores. sea level change.[31] dendrochronology. Climate change effects have been linked to the collapse of various civilisations. and glacial geology. Historical and archaeological evidence Main article: Historical impacts of climate change Climate change in the recent past may be detected by corresponding changes in settlement and agricultural patterns.[32] Glaciers . most of the evidence is indirect—climatic changes are inferred from changes in proxies. such as vegetation. the Pacific decadal oscillation.

and englacial and subglacial hydrology can strongly determine the evolution of a glacier in a particular season. precipitation. initially based mainly on aerial photographs and maps but now relying more on satellites. As temperatures warm. and again retreating from the mid 1980s to present.[34] The most significant climate processes since the middle to late Pliocene (approximately 3 million years ago) are the glacial and interglacial cycles.Variations in CO2. glaciers retreat unless snow precipitation increases to make up for the additional melt. stable or growing conditions during the 1920s and 1970s. with strong glacier retreats in the 1940s. temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 450. and preliminary estimates indicate that the remaining ice cover is around 445.000 km2. A world glacier inventory has been compiled since the 1970s. Therefore. The present interglacial .[33] Their size is determined by a mass balance between snow input and melt output.000 km2. This compilation tracks more than 100. The World Glacier Monitoring Service collects data annually on glacier retreat and glacier mass balance From this data. glaciers worldwide have been found to be shrinking significantly.000 years Decline in thickness of glaciers worldwide Glaciers are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change.000 glaciers covering a total area of approximately 240. the converse is also true. Glaciers grow and shrink due both to natural variability and external forcings. one must average over a decadal or longer time-scale and/or over a many individual glaciers to smooth out the local short-term variability and obtain a glacier history that is related to climate. Variability in temperature.

Other changes. distribution and coverage of vegetation may occur given a change in the climate.[36] Ice cores Analysis of ice in a core drilled from a ice sheet such as the Antarctic ice sheet. the lack of glacier cover can be identified by the presence of soil or volcanic tephra horizons whose date of deposit may also be ascertained. Larger. Glaciers leave behind moraines that contain a wealth of material—including organic matter. well before modern environmental influences. and continues to provide valuable information about the differences between ancient and modern atmospheric conditions. Dendroclimatology . a mild change in climate may result in increased precipitation and warmth. and potassium that may be dated—recording the periods in which a glacier advanced and retreated. resulting in improved plant growth and the subsequent sequestration of airborne CO2. responses such as the rise and fall of continental ice sheets and significant sea-level changes helped create the climate. this much is obvious. faster or more radical changes. however. illustrate how glacial variations may also influence climate without the orbital forcing. by tephrochronological techniques. The study of these ice cores has been a significant indicator of the changes in CO2 over many millennia. quartz. Vegetation This video summarizes how climate change. can be used to show a link between temperature and global sea level variations. rapid plant loss and desertification in certain circumstances. has affected plant growth. however. may result in vegetation stress.[35] Shaped by orbital variations.period (the Holocene) has lasted about 11. In any given scenario.700 years. Dansgaard–Oeschger events and the Younger Dryas. The air trapped in bubbles in the ice can also reveal the CO2 variations of the atmosphere from the distant past. A change in the type. associated with increased carbon dioxide levels. including Heinrich events. Similarly.

they resist decay. and nearshore archaeological remains. bogs. narrow rings indicate a time of lower rainfall and less-than-ideal growing conditions. More recently. ooids in limestones. Palynology is used to infer the geographical distribution of plant species. knowledge of the present climatic range of the different species. well-watered growing period. altimeter measurements — in combination with accurately determined satellite orbits — have provided an improved measurement of global sea level change. with cosmogenic radionuclides being sometimes used to date terraces that have experienced relative sea level fall. Pollen analysis Palynology is the study of contemporary and fossil palynomorphs. The predominant dating methods used are uranium series and radiocarbon. These changes are often a sign of a changing climate. scientists have dated coral reefs that grow near the surface of the ocean.[40] Insects Remains of beetles are common in freshwater and land sediments. and the age of the sediments in which remains are found. coastal sediments. See also General • Attribution of recent climate Wikinews has news related to: Climate change . Given the extensive lineage of beetles whose genetic makeup has not altered significantly over the millennia. past climatic conditions may be inferred. or river deltas indicate changes in plant communities. Changes in the type of pollen found in different layers of sediment in lakes. including pollen.Dendroclimatology is the analysis of tree ring growth patterns to determine past climate variations. Different groups of plants have pollen with distinctive shapes and surface textures. and since the outer surface of pollen is composed of a very resilient material. whilst thin. Wide and thick rings indicate a fertile. Different species of beetles tend to be found under different climatic conditions.[41] Sea level change Main articles: Sea level and Current sea level rise Global sea level change for much of the last century has generally been estimated using tide gauge measurements collated over long periods of time to give a long-term average.[42] To measure sea levels prior to instrumental measurements.[37][38] As an example. which vary under different climate conditions. palynological studies have been used to track changing vegetation patterns throughout the Quaternary glaciations[39] and especially since the last glacial maximum. marine terraces.

org/wiki/Climate_change" Categories: Climate change | Climate history | Carbon finance | Climate and weather statistics | Economic problems Hidden categories: Pages with incomplete DOI references | Wikipedia indefinitely semiprotected pages | Spoken articles | Articles with hAudio microformats • Personal tools • Log in / create account Namespaces • • Article Discussion Variants Views .wikipedia.• • • • • • • • change Paleoclimatology and links therein Abrupt climate change and links therein Atmospheric physics Climate change in literature Geologic time scale Glossary of climate change List of climate change topics Temperature record Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Climate change Environment portal Energy portal Climate of recent glaciations • • • Bond event Dansgaard-Oeschger event Younger Dryas Climate of the deep past • • • Recent climate • • • • • • • • Faint young sun paradox Oxygen catastrophe Snowball Earth Climate of the last 500 million years • • Ice ages Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum Anthropocene Global warming Hardiness Zone Migration Holocene Climatic Optimum Little Ice Age Medieval Warm Period Temperature record of the past 1000 years Year Wit Permo–Carboniferous Glaciation Retrieved from "http://en.

• • • Actions Search þÿ Read View source View history Navigation • • • • • • Main page Contents Featured content Current events Random article Donate to Wikipedia Interaction • • • • • Toolbox • • • • • • Help About Wikipedia Community portal Recent changes Contact Wikipedia What links here Related changes Upload file Special pages Permanent link Cite this page Print/export • • • Create a book Download as PDF Printable version Languages • • ‫العربية‬ বাংলা .

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Bikol Central Bosanski Български Català Česky Cymraeg Dansk Deutsch Eesti Ελληνικά Español Esperanto Euskara ‫فارسی‬ Français Gaeilge Galego 한국어 Hrvatski Bahasa Indonesia Italiano ‫עברית‬ ಕನಡ ನ ქართული Lietuvių Magyar Bahasa Melayu မမမမမမမမမမ Nederlands नेपाली 日本語 Norsk (bokmål) Norsk (nynorsk) Occitan ‫پښتو‬ Polski Português Русский Shqip Simple English Slovenčina Slovenščina Srpskohrvatski / Српскохрватски Suomi Svenska Tagalog .

• • • • • • • • தமிழ் Türkçe Українська Tiếng Việt 粵語 中文 This page was last modified on 1 April 2011 at 20:02.. additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation. Contact us Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers • • • • • • . Inc. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. a nonprofit organization.