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- Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from:
- natural factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity or slow changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun;
- natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation);
- human activities that change the atmosphere's composition (e.g. through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.)
- The term "climate change" is sometimes used to refer to all forms of climatic inconsistency, but because the Earth's climate is never static, the term is more properly used to imply a significant change from one climatic condition to another. In some cases, climate change has been used synonymously with the term, global warming; scientists however, tend to use the term in the wider sense to also include natural changes in climate. See climate, global warming, greenhouse effect, enhanced greenhouse effect, radiative forcing.
EPA - Cite This Source - This Definition
- Climate change A study dealing with variations in climate on many different time scales from decades to millions of years, and the possible causes of such variations.1) In the most general sense, the term "climate change" encompasses all forms of climatic inconstancy (that is, any differences between long-term statistics of the meteorological elements calculated for different periods but relating to the same area) regardless of their statistical nature or physical causes. Climate change may result from such factors as changes in solar activity, long-period changes in the Earth's orbital elements (eccentricity, obliquity of the ecliptic, precession of equinoxes), natural internal processes of the climate system, or anthropogenic forcing (for example, increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases). 2) The term "climate change" is often used in a more restricted sense, to denote a significant change (such as a change having important economic, environmental and social effects) in the mean values of a meteorological element (in particular temperature or amount of precipitation) in the course of a certain period of time, where the means are taken over periods of the order of a decade or longer.
NSIDC - Cite This Source - This Definition
- abrupt climate change, adaptation, Carbon Dioxide Fertilization, Climate Lag, Climate Sensitivity, Emissions, forcing, Forcing Mechanism, Global Warming, Irreversibilities, mechanism, Nonlinearities, Radiative Forcing