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Climate and Change
Key term Definition
Weather The conditions of the atmosphere from day-to-day e.g. sunny.
Climate The average weather conditions, usually over a 30yr period, in a large area.
Climate The difference in the conditions of the atmosphere over a number of years
Change (usually temperature)
Interglacial Warm periods of time, tend to last 10,000-15,000yrs
Glacials Cold periods of time, tend to last 80,000-100,000yrs
Evidence for Climate Change
Fossils of extinct plants, animals and pollen Data and measurements
Composition of gases in the atmosphere Historical texts e.g. The Bible
The amount of CO2 in ice cores/sheets Photographs and pictures
Landforms e.g. left from retreating glaciers
Natural Causes of Climate Change
Theory Description Effect on Climate Example
Eruption Very large explosive High-level winds spread ash and gas 1883: Explosion
Theory eruptions occur, around the Earth. The blanket of gas of Krakatoa
releasing ash and stops some sunlight reaching the reduced
sulphur dioxide. Earth's surface, cooling the Earth. temperatures by
1.2°C for 1yr.
Sunspot Dark sunspots Lots of spots mean more energy is The Little Ice Age
Theory develop on the sun's fired out from the sun towards the saw below
surface showing it's Earth, causing the temperature to rise. average
more active than Lower than average activity reduces temperatures of
usual. The sun's output the Earth's temperature. 1-2°C for 400yrs.
is not constant.
Orbital Earth's axis wobbles The 3 orbital variations affect the total The Ice Age saw
Theory like a spinning top. sunlight Earth gets & its distribution at 5-6°C colder than
Earth's axis tilts. different latitudes & times. temperature
According to When the Earth's closer to the sun it's today.
Milankovitch, every warmer & when it's further away it's
100,000yrs, the cooler.
Earth's orbit changes When the axis tilts more, there's more
from a circular to an difference between the northern and
elliptical pattern. southern hemisphere.
Most severe: Orbital Theory
Longest: Orbital Theory
Most likely to occur: Eruption Theory
Natural Climate Change
Both warm and cold periods have existed on Earth over the last 100 million years. The last Ice Age
was approximately 1.8m years ago- the Pleistocene era. The warm period we are in now is called the
Holocene era and this started 10,000 years ago.
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The Little Ice Age
What was the little ice age?
How do we know the little ice age happened?
What were the effects of the little ice age?
The Effect of Climate Change on an Ecosystem
1. Flooding: precipitation destroys habitats, acid rain.
2. Drought: lack of rain, plants can't photosynthesise.
3. More severe weather due to climate change e.g. hurricanes.
4. Sunlight: more heat = melting ice-caps = death of polar bears, too little = plants can't
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This was caused by the last ice age.
Megafauna: `big animals,' weigh over
Australia: 89% became extinct
South America: 83% became extinct
North America: 73% became extinct
Europe: 36% became extinct
Africa: 5% became extinct
The megafauna become extinct as they
are not adapted to living in the new conditions, there will be lots of competition for food and
the climate will be different.…read more
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Carbon dioxide emissions have fluctuated between 200 and 300 parts per million. It is
currently increasing and has reached 380 parts per million.
2. Recently, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased. In 1959 it was 316ppm and it
has risen steadily to about 380ppm in 2009. This has risen by about 7.2ppm each year.
3. The temperature has risen steadily from 0.6 degrees below average in 1900 to 0.2 degrees
above average in 2000. The predictions for the future are:
High pop: 6.…read more