The climate system is a complex natural system that is made up of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets. This system is influenced by many factors, including the balance of energy from the Sun.
When a change in the Sun’s output of solar energy affects this balance, Earth’s climate will change. These changes can be caused by a range of things, from changes in the sun itself to shifts in Earth’s orbit.
Heat from the sun is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, causing the surface to heat up. This heat is then re-radiated into space as infrared (heat) radiation. The greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere absorb this infrared heat and slow its flow to space.
CO2 is the main greenhouse gas, but other greenhouse gases are also released as part of the carbon cycle. For example, plants and animals release methane and nitrous oxide. When these gases are combined with other gases, they can create a powerful greenhouse effect that traps more heat than the atmosphere can naturally hold.
Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use release large amounts of CO2, causing concentrations of CO2 to increase. This is because when we burn fossil fuels, the chemicals that we use to make them are broken down into carbon dioxide and other gases.
Greenhouse gases trap the heat from the Sun and other sources of heat on Earth, causing our planet to warm up. This warming is called climate change, and it is affecting the world as we know it today.
We have already seen a significant increase in temperatures over the last century, and scientists expect this to continue for the next 100 years. This will cause more snow and ice to melt, warmer oceans and other changes that could have serious consequences for our lives and the environment.
Scientists have used a number of tools to help them understand how the climate system is changing. Some look at the land, air and water; others examine how the Sun sends its energy out.
These tools include satellites, weather balloons and radar. These instruments measure air and water temperature, atmospheric moisture and other things that affect the climate. They can also show where and when extreme rains and heat waves occur.
The climate has changed before, but scientists believe it’s happening faster now than at any time in history. Some of this change is due to natural factors, like volcanic eruptions and shifts in the Earth’s orbit.
However, most of the change is due to humans. The burning of coal, oil and gas is releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This has a powerful impact on the Earth’s climate and is the biggest factor contributing to climate change.
The impacts of climate change are now being felt around the world, and they will only get worse if we don’t act to reduce our emissions. These impacts are already affecting people, wildlife and ecosystems, as well as our economy and infrastructure. They are causing more extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and ice sheet melt. They also are reducing access to drinking water, food and other resources and creating challenges for transportation and infrastructure.