As the Sun warms the equator more than the poles, climate varies with latitude. This image shows how sea surface temperatures change at different latitudes. Red colors indicate warmer ocean water, blues and purples indicate cooler ocean water.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NOAA. Public domain.
What Is Climate?
How do you know to pack your bathing suit and sunhat for a trip to a tropical island or pack warm sweaters and coats for a trip to Alaska?
If you know a little about regional climates, then you know what to pack!
Regional climate is the typical weather of a place. It is all the types of weather that happen during different seasons. The climate is different in different places on Earth.
But what if you were taking a vacation to another planet like Mars or Venus? To know what to pack you would want to figure out what the global climate of Earth and the vacation planet are like. Global climate is a description of the climate of a planet as a whole including all the regional differences. Overall, global climate depends on the amount of energy received by the Sun and the amount of energy that is trapped in the system. Scientists who study Earth's climate and climate change study the factors that affect the climate of our whole planet.
While the weather can change in just a few hours, climate takes many years, even millions of years, to change. Many different things can cause climates to change. Today, climates are changing and our planet's temperature is rising. Our Earth is warming more quickly than it has in the past.
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The Winter 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
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