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
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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist
, available in our online store
, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.
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