Climate change is the term used to describe the changes to the climate associated with humans burning carbon (like coal, oil, wood and gas), leading to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere.
The increased concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere since industrialisation has led to clearly detectable warming of the earth’s atmospheric systems. It is also associated with melting glacial ice, sea level rise, increased storm and cyclone activities, changes to ocean acidity, increased extreme temperatures and increased severity of bush fires.
What is the difference between weather, climate change and global warming?
Weather is the daily or short-term changes in our atmosphere, like rain, snow, humidity, wind, sunshine etc.
Climate change is the long-term changes in average weather patterns, which can be both natural and human-caused. These weather patterns can involve such things as storms, increased or decreased rainfall and temperatures or drought. Climate change includes global warming.
Global warming is the heating of the Earth over time due to increases in greenhouse gases.
For more information, see NASA's Overview on Weather, Global Warming and Climate Change.
The Greenhouse Effect is a naturally occurring process which helps to warm the Earth’s surface so that life can occur.
The sun’s radiation reaches Earth and is absorbed by the planet. Heat that re-radiates off the Earth is trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Human activities such as burning coal, oil and gas leads to higher amounts of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, increasing the Greenhouse Effect by producing more of these gases and further warming the Earth.
Visit the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Effect page for more information.
Here are some links if you'd like to learn more about climate change:
- Climate Change in Australia (CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology)
- Climate Change Causes (NASA)
- Climate Change Evidence (NASA)
- Climate Change Effects (NASA)
- Frequently Asked Questions (NASA)
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