Climate is the pattern of weather, including seasons, average and extreme temperatures, the timing and location of clouds, rain and snow, and extreme weather events such as blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes and typhoons. Our climate is changing as a result of a process known as the ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’.
Life on Earth is made possible by energy from the sun, which arrives mainly in the form of visible light. The Earth reflects some of this energy back, and it eventually escapes into space. However, gases in the atmosphere slow this process down. Collectively, these gases are known as ‘greenhouse gases’ because they trap heat on Earth, just like a gardener’s greenhouse is used to keep heat inside to grow vegetables.
Some amount of these gases is necessary for us to exist — without them, the average temperature on Earth would be -19° C! But human activities (like some farming and industrial activities, and deforestation) are making the blanket of greenhouse gases thicker, and magnifying the greenhouse effect.
A rise in temperature will be accompanied by changes in cloud cover, precipitation, wind patterns and the duration of seasons. We are already seeing some of these changes. Because weather systems are complicated and interlinked, climate change may mean that some parts of the world actually experience decreased temperatures, while other parts of the world will see an increase in the intensity and, in some cases, the number of extreme weather events, like hurricanes, cyclones and severe storms.
You can watch this video to better understand how it works: https://vimeo.com/112042837 (data charges might apply)