GLOBE Clouds : Climate Change

What is climate?

Climate is like weather but over much longer time scales. The weather is about where it will rain or snow tomorrow or next week, and whether or not you will need to wear a coat tomorrow. Climate is about whether the amount of rainfall 10, 20 or 100 years from now will increase or decrease (which might affect plants and agriculture); and whether the temperature will consistently increase so that you can put away your warm clothes, or decrease so that you need a coat year-round.

A central question of our time is whether humans are affecting the Earth's climate. This idea has been called Global Warming, but should more accurately be named Global Climate Change. This is because the changes we may see could include things like more extreme weather (storms, floods, droughts, etc) and because the changes may vary from place to place. Scientists are trying to identify and understand all the parts in the Earth system - land, ocean, the sun, the atmosphere, the polar caps, etc - that control its climate. We focus in particular on one element of the atmosphere - clouds - because clouds play a large role in controlling Earth's climate, and we need to understand how they may be changing in response to human activities.

Learn about the role of clouds on earth’s climate.

Other Climate Change resources: