The Earth’s climate refers to the weather over a long period of time. In other words, the climate is like the pattern of the weather. Meaning the climate gives an idea of the average weather in a particular place. More so, the climate is studied by looking at the pattern of weather over a 30-year period. In other words, the climate changes over decades.
Climate or weather
The climate on earth is sometimes mistaken for the weather. Unlike climate, the weather refers to a short period of time. For example, how much sun or rain there is in a particular place at a particular day. Hence, the weather changes from day to day. Meaning weather changes much faster than climate.
The ongoing climate crisis has lead to a debate about the climate and weather. For example, some link extreme weather events, such as fires or floods, to the human influence on the climate on earth. While some still claim that these events are unique weather events. However, it is a fact that human activities, releasing GHG emissions, affect the Earth’s climate. This is because human activities release more greenhouse gases than the Earth does on its own. Which eventually leads to a warmer climate because of the greenhouse effect. Thus, human activities are slowly but surely changing the climate.
Furthermore, human emissions also affect the ozone layer. This is the layer that protects against harmful UV radiation from the sun. More so, a warmer climate also affects the circulation of the ocean. For example, the warmer climate melts the ices and glaciers on Earth. Eventually, this leads to an increase of freshwater in the oceans. Which then leads to changes in currents, such as the Gulf Stream. Hence, emissions of more gases eventually affect the climate on Earth and it’s patterns.
Observing the climate on Earth
The climate on earth as been studied for over 150 years. Percipitation (e.g. rain), atmospheric pressure and average temperatures, among other things, have been observed and documented. This has made it possible to determine how the climate has changed for the past 150 years. For example, the Earth’s average temperature has increased with around 1°C since the year 1850. Most of this warming is related to human emissions of greenhouse gases.
As a result of the above, scientists can say that the climate has changed beyond its natural balance. An increase of 1°C from 1850 to today is considered a rapid and decisive change. Just one degree difference leads to melting ice, rising sea levels and changed patterns of rainfall. These changes have several chain reactions. Such as floodings in the world’s coastal cities.
Although it can be misleading to link a single extreme weather event to climate change, such as a hurricane or fire. It is a fact that a warmer climate leads to more extreme weather. This is proven by the so called climate models, calculations on future climate.
More so, a global average temperature increase of 1°C creates much better conditions for heat waves and floods. SMHI states that climate change is visible in the increase of catastrophic weather events worldwide.
The Earth’s climate zones
The planet’s climate is usually divided into four different climate zones: the tropical zone, the subtropical zones, the temperate zones and the polar zones. The tropical zone is closest to the equator and is characterised by a warm climate with large rainforests. The other zone, known as the subtropical zone, lies some distance from the equator and has long hot summers and mild winters. Then there is the temperate climate zone, with four seasons. For example, the climate in Sweden. Finally, there is the polar zone, where it is generally cold all year round. These zones are likely to change and are not permanent in the long term.