What is climate?
Climate is the long-term (30 years) average weather of a region including typical weather patterns, the frequency and intensity of storms, cold spells, and heat waves. Climate is not the same as weather.
Climate has been changing ever since time immemorial. Climate changes are both natural and human-induced. Climate change refers to changes in long-term trends in the average climate, such as changes in average temperatures and precipitations.The changing climate can be seen through many changes appearing around us. For example, global average temperature has been increasing since the Industrial Evolution Era or earlier; Arctic ice and permafrost are disappearing; Europeans see it in disappearing glaciers, e.g. glacier retreat in Alps, forest fires and fatal heat waves; while the shanty town dwellers of Latin America and Southern Asia see it in lethal storms, floods and also the frequent droughts. In Africa too, there are increasing frequency and intensity in floods and drought events which are linked to this changing climate.
Using modern techniques, scientists see the imprints of climate change in tree rings, ancient coral, bubbles trapped in ice cores, lake deposits and cave deposits such as stalagmites. These reveal that the world has not been as warm as it is now for a millennium or more. The Earth has probably never warmed as fast as in the past 30 years - a period when natural influences on global temperatures, such as solar cycles and volcanoes should have cooled us down.
For more information and interesting facts (PDF, 20B) on climate change, further information on related websites is also available.
Stop and Think!
1. What is climate?
2. Explain the causes of climate change.
3. What will happen to the sea side area in Amsterdam if the sea level rise 5 meters?