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Climate change

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Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400,000 years

Climate change means the difference in the Earth's global climate or in regional climates over time.

It describes changes in the state of the atmosphere over time scales ranging from decades to millions of years. These changes can be caused by processes inside the Earth, forces from outside (e.g. variations in sunlight intensity) or, more recently, human activities. Ice ages are prominent examples.

Climate change is any significant long-term change in the expected patterns of average weather of a region (or the whole Earth) over a significant period of time. Climate change is about abnormal variations to the climate, and the effects of these variations on other parts of the Earth. Examples include melting of the ice caps at the South Pole and North Pole. These changes may take tens, hundreds or perhaps millions of years.

In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate (see global warming).

Notable books

Other pages


  • Emanuel, K. A. (2005) Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years., Nature, 436; 686-688
  • IPCC. (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis (summary for policy makers), IPCC.
  • Jones, C. Climate Change: Facts and Impacts [online]. Available from: What effects are we seeing now and what is still to come?
  • Miller, C. and Edwards, P. N. (ed.)(2001) Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance, MIT Press
  • Ruddiman, W. F. (2003) The anthropogenic greenhouse era began thousands of years ago, Climate Change 61 (3): 261-293
  • Ruddiman, W. F. (2005) Plows, Plagues and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate, Princeton University Press
  • Ruddiman, W. F., Vavrus, S. J. and Kutzbach, J. E. (2005) A test of the overdue-glaciation hypothesis, Quaternary Science Review, 24:11
  • Schmidt, G. A., Shindel, D. T. and Harder, S. (2004) A note of the relationship between ice core methane concentrations and insolation GRL v31 L23206

Other websites

Public administrations and organizations

Other links

BBC articles