This webpage provides a very brief overview of climate change. The NASA Global Climate Change website contains a vast amount of information on the evidence that climate change is occurring, the causes of climate change, the impacts of climate change, as well as some actions that can be done to combat climate change. Additional resources are listed at the bottom of this page.
Global warming refers to the long-term warming of the planet.
Climate change encompasses global warming, but includes a broader range of changes, including sea level rise, shrinking glaciers, accelerating ice melt in the polar regions, heat waves, and shifts in plant flowering and growth periods. This accelerated warming is caused mainly by people burning fossil fuels and putting out heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere (the greenhouse effect).
We know carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are increasing in the atmosphere, and that this increased CO2 is the primary driver of global warming. We also know that humans are responsible for these increased CO2 concentrations, and there is overwhelming consensus about this fact among scientific experts around the world.
Read more about the causes of climate change here.
What is the greenhouse effect?
The greenhouse effect is the way in which heat is trapped near the surface of the Earth, thereby warming the Earth’s surface. When the sun’s energy reaches Earth’s atmosphere, some of it is reflected back to space, but some of it is trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases, and this results in a warming of the Earth. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and nitrous oxides.
What is the difference between weather and climate?
Weather refers to the local, short term changes in the climate we see around us – rain, thunderstorms, snow, clouds, winds, heat waves and cold spells. That is, weather is local and temporary. Climate describes the average weather conditions for a region (or globally) over long period of time, such as weather conditions averaged over many years or decades. Climate is the long-term weather patterns for a region or across the globe.