Studies of past climates provide insight into the causes of our present climate. We require such insight to develop computer models that predict Earth's future.

The greenhouse effect: imagine the sun illuminating Earth in a bottle.

Bloom (2010) Global Climate Change: Convergence of Disciplines. Sinauer Associates.

Past History

Present Factors

 Future World

  • Black Carbon and Climate Change Featured Article Black Carbon and Climate Change Black Carbon and Climate Change

    This data visualization (image) uses data from NASA’s GEOS-5 Goddard Chemistry Aerosol and Transport (GOCART) climate model to show atmospheric concentrations of black... More »

  • Targeting other climate change gases Featured News Article Targeting other climate change gases Targeting other climate change gases

    NOAA study: Slowing climate change by targeting gases other than carbon dioxide The direct warming influence of all long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today... More »

  • Global warming Featured Article Global warming Global warming

    Introduction The phrase global warming refers to the documented historical warming of the Earth's surface based upon worldwide temperature records that have... More »

  • Greenhouse effect Featured Article Greenhouse effect Greenhouse effect

    The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring process that aids in heating the Earth's surface and atmosphere. It results from the fact that certain atmospheric... More »

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Climate Last Updated on 2014-10-01 10:48:54 Climate is the typical pattern of conditions of the earth’s atmosphere over a given region, as defined by factors such as temperature, air pressure. humidity, precipitation, sunlight, cloudiness, and winds. The World Meteorological Organization defines climate as "the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time," where an appropriate period is typically at least thirty years. Climate can be assessed at different, overlapping geographic regions. For example, Earth is thought to have a climate that is distinct from that of other planets, while different regions of Earth are also thought to have distinct climate types. Climate is often described as the "average" conditions; however, since daily and seasonal variability (including extremes) are critical determinants, using the term... More »
Coral bleaching Last Updated on 2014-05-12 12:51:51 Coral bleaching is the reduction of intracellular endosymbionts in living coral reefs either via loss or expulsion of algal pigmentation. The symbiotic relationship between coral and zooxanthellae is directly related to coral bleaching. When this relationship fails, and the zooxanthellae do not receive required inputs from the coral or vice-versa, the zooxanthellae will pale and turn white or be expelled into the water. The resultant decline in coral health from bleaching is deleterious to the coral ecosystem. Chief drivers for coral bleaching are freshwater dilution, change in pH, marine water pollution, increase in sunlight or alteration of seawater temperature. Particularly widespread water pollution is in the form of marine sedimentation from excessive runoff and discharge of untreated sewage. In addition to these abiotic causes of coral bleaching, the phenomenon of overfishing... More »
Night-warming effect over large wind farms Last Updated on 2012-05-01 00:00:00 Study indicates that land surface temperatures have warmed in the vicinity of large wind farms in west-central Texas, especially at night, Scientists Find Night-Warming Effect Over Large Wind Farms in Texas Wind turbines interact with atmospheric boundary layer near the surface Large wind farms in certain areas in the United States appear to affect local land surface temperatures, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study, led by Liming Zhou, an atmospheric scientist at the State University of New York- (SUNY) Albany, provides insights about the possible effects of wind farms. The results could be important for developing efficient adaptation and management strategies to ensure long-term sustainability of wind power. "This study indicates that land surface temperatures have warmed in the vicinity of large wind farms in... More »
Human-caused climate change a factor in Mediterranean droughts Last Updated on 2011-10-28 00:00:00 Human-caused climate change a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts Winter precipitation trends in the Mediterranean region for the period 1902 - 2010. High Resolution (Credit: NOAA) Wintertime droughts are increasingly common in the Mediterranean region, and human-caused climate change is partly responsible, according to a new analysis by NOAA scientists and colleagues at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). In the last 20 years, 10 of the driest 12 winters have taken place in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. “The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,” said Martin Hoerling, Ph.D. of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Climate ... More »
Targeting other climate change gases Last Updated on 2011-08-04 00:00:00 NOAA study: Slowing climate change by targeting gases other than carbon dioxide The direct warming influence of all long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today attributable to human activities. CO2’s warming influence of 1.7 watts/m2 is equivalent to the heat from nearly 9 trillion 100-watt incandescent light bulbs placed across Earth’s surface. The combined influence of the non-CO2 greenhouse gases is equivalent to the heat from about 5 trillion bulbs. The category “other”includes a few very long-lived chemicals that can exert a climate influence for millennia. Download image here. (Credit: NOAA) Carbon dioxide remains the undisputed king of recent climate change, but other greenhouse gases measurably contribute to the problem. A new study, conducted by NOAA scientists and published online today in Nature, shows that cutting emissions... More »