Climate System

collapse Topic : Causes of Climate Change ‎(2)
Cyclical and Natural Changes
Human-Caused Changes
collapse Topic : Climate System ‎(12)
Atmospheric Circulation
Atmospheric Composition
Carbon Cycle
Climate Compared to Weather
Climate Feedbacks
Global Energy Balance
Greenhouse Effect
Ocean and Climate
Orbital Cycles
Regional Climates
Solar Radiation
Water Cycle
collapse Topic : Human Responses to Climate Change ‎(3)
Personal Responsibility
Risk Management
Social Values
collapse Topic : Impacts of Climate Change ‎(13)
Agricultural Changes
Economic Impacts
Ecosystem Changes
Extreme Weather
Freshwater Resources
Great Lakes Impacts
Melting Ice and Permafrost
Ocean Warming and Acidification
Plants and Animals
Public Health
Sea Level Rise
Surface Temperature Warming
collapse Topic : Measuring and Modeling Climate ‎(2)
Climate Modeling
Gathering and Measuring Climate Data

Atmospheric Composition

Many aspects of Earth’s climate are dependent upon atmospheric composition and biogeochemical cycling.

  • The amount of solar energy absorbed or radiated by earth is modulated by the atmosphere and depends on its composition. Greenhouse gases – such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane – occur naturally in small amounts and absorb and release heat energy more efficiently than abundant atmospheric gases like nitrogen and oxygen. Small increases in carbon dioxide concentration have a large effect on the climate system.

  • The abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is controlled by biogeochemical cycles that continually move these components between their ocean, land, life, and atmosphere reservoirs.

  • Airborne particulates, called “aerosols,” have a complex effect on Earth’s energy balance: they can cause both cooling, by reflecting incoming sunlight back out to space, and warming, by absorbing and releasing heat energy in the atmosphere. Small solid and liquid particles can be lofted into the atmosphere through a variety of natural and manmade processes, including volcanic eruptions, sea spray, forest fires, and emissions generated through human activities.