Defining Climate Change

The definitions and diagram on this page will help you to understand some common terms associated with climate change.

Weather and climate scales.

Climate change definitions

  • Climate defines the average weather over a period of time.
  • Climate change simply refers to a change in the average weather over time.
  • Climate variabilityrefers to the variability in general climate patterns that occur. Weather patterns can vary over seasons, years and decades and Australia is known to have higher natural climate variability than other parts of the world.
  • Weatheris the state of the atmosphere at a particular time and is what we experience.

What is causing climate change?

The increase of atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750 has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. This has resulted in increased global average temperatures, changes in the water cycle, ocean warming and sea-level rise. 97% of scientists agree that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century and is primarily linked to the burning of fossil fuels.

Pacific climate futures website

Further information

Kira Andrews

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