Climate Change

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The term climate change — often used interchangeably with the term global warming — is growing in preferred use as conveys a more rounded description of any number of changing climate patterns in addition to rising temperatures. Changing patterns of temperature (up or down), precipitation, wind, severe weather and seasonal shifts are some of the other indicators.

Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from: natural factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity or slow changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun; natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation); and human activities that change the atmosphere's composition (through the burning of fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.).

Sources: EPA for background; Photo: John LeGear CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

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