Perhaps the most intensively discussed and researched topic in climate variability is the role of interactions and feedbacks among the various components of the Earth system. Wherever possible, paleoclimatologists try to use multiple lines of evidence to cross-check their conclusions. Vegetation also influences greenhouse gas concentrations; living plants constitute an important sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, whereas they act as sources of carbon dioxide when they are burned by wildfires or undergo decomposition. Climate change and water. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, people have burned more and more fossil fuels and changed vast areas of land from forests to farmland. Indeed, studies show that solar variability has played a role in past climate changes. This effort is being facilitated by the development of an interdisciplinary science called Earth system science. These natural archives, often referred to as proxy evidence, are extraordinarily diverse; they include, but are not limited to, fossil records of past plant and animal distributions, sedimentary and geochemical indicators of former conditions of oceans and continents, and land surface features characteristic of past climates. However, these phrases are not exact synonyms. Therefore, climate, which results from the physical properties and motion of the atmosphere, varies at every conceivable timescale. Scottish geologist James Croll proposed that recurring variations in orbital eccentricity (the deviation of Earth’s orbit from a perfectly circular path) were responsible for alternating glacial and interglacial periods. Many of the causes of climate change are external to the Earth system. What causes climate change? Learn about global activism that have changed the ways we interact with our precious planet for the better. It is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestationand farming. Paleoclimatologists study the traces of these effects, devising clever and subtle ways to obtain information about past climates. Second, the tilt of Earth’s axis with respect to the Sun, which is primarily responsible for Earth’s seasonal climates, varies between 22.1° and 24.5° from the plane of Earth’s rotation around the Sun. Earth scientists and atmospheric scientists are still seeking a full understanding of the complex feedbacks and interactions among the various components of the Earth system. Sir Paul Nurse on 'Climate Change: Evidence & Causes' Professor Eric Wolff - 'Past climate - future climate' Continuing the Conversation on Climate Change At geologic timescales, however, release of this greenhouse gas can have important effects. The occurrence of multiple epochs in recent Earth history during which continental glaciers, developed at high latitudes, penetrated into northern Europe and eastern North America was recognized by scientists by the late 19th century. This variation occurs on a cycle of 41,000 years. Researchers studying climatic changes predating the instrumental record rely increasingly on natural archives, which are biological or geologic processes that record some aspect of past climate. As a result, changes in vegetation, which are partially controlled by climate, can in turn influence the climate system. Ongoing climatic changes are being monitored by networks of sensors in space, on the land surface, and both on and below the surface of the world’s oceans. Many of the causes of climate change are external to the Earth system. Volcanoes and related phenomena, such as ocean rifting and subduction, release carbon dioxide into both the oceans and the atmosphere. Emissions are low; even a massive volcanic eruption such as Mount Pinatubo releases only a fraction of the carbon dioxide emitted by fossil-fuel combustion in a year. The “Maunder minimum,” a period of drastically reduced sunspot activity between AD 1645 and 1715, has been suggested as a contributing factor to the Little Ice Age. Even though these natural causes contribute to climate change, we know that they are not the primary cause, based on scientific evidence. First, the shape of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, varies from nearly circular to elliptical (eccentric), with periodicities of 100,000 and 413,000 years. Who are some of the past and present voices in the fight to protect our planet? Climate change: A Summary of the Science. These and other feedbacks among the various components of the Earth system are critical for both understanding past climate changes and predicting future ones. 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