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Main article: Global warming In the context of climate variation, anthropogenic factors are human activities which affect the climate. The scientific consensus on climate change is "that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities",  and it "is largely irreversible".
While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations. This is due to emissions from fossil fuel combustion, followed by aerosols particulate matter in the atmosphere , and the CO2 released by cement manufacture.
There is very little change to the area-averaged annually averaged sunshine; but there can be strong changes in the geographical and seasonal distribution. The three types of kinematic change are variations in Earth's eccentricity , changes in the tilt angle of Earth's axis of rotation , and precession of Earth's axis.
Combined together, these produce Milankovitch cycles which affect climate and are notable for their correlation to glacial and interglacial periods ,  their correlation with the advance and retreat of the Sahara ,  and for their appearance in the stratigraphic record. Upon seawater temperature change, the solubility of CO2 in the oceans changed, as well as other factors affecting air-sea CO2 exchange.
The period of extraordinarily few sunspots in the late 17th century was the Maunder minimum. The Sun is the predominant source of energy input to the Earth. Other sources include geothermal energy from the Earth's core, tidal energy from the Moon and heat from the decay of radioactive compounds. Both long- and short-term variations in solar intensity are known to affect global climate.
However, there is evidence for the presence of water on the early Earth, in the Hadean   and Archean   eons, leading to what is known as the faint young Sun paradox.
The Great Oxygenation Event —oxygenation of the atmosphere around 2. Over the next five billion years from the present, the Sun's ultimate death as it becomes a red giant and then a white dwarf will have large effects on climate, with the red giant phase possibly ending any life on Earth that survives until that time.
Values since not shown.
Solar output varies on shorter time scales, including the year solar cycle  and longer-term modulations. The cyclical nature of the Sun's energy output is not yet fully understood; it differs from the very slow change that is happening within the Sun as it ages and evolves. Some studies point toward solar radiation increases from cyclical sunspot activity affecting global warming, and climate may be influenced by the sum of all effects solar variation, anthropogenic radiative forcings , etc.
The next step is to find more about these trace vapours, including whether they are of natural or human origin. The eruptions considered to be large enough to affect the Earth's climate on a scale of more than 1 year are the ones that inject over , tons of SO2 into the stratosphere. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in , the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century, affected the climate substantially, subsequently global temperatures decreased by about 0. However, because smaller eruptions occur at a much higher frequency, they too significantly affect Earth's atmosphere.
In climate modelling the aim is to study the physical mechanisms and feedbacks of volcanic forcing. Over very long geological time periods, they release carbon dioxide from the Earth's crust and mantle, counteracting the uptake by sedimentary rocks and other geological carbon dioxide sinks.
The US Geological Survey estimates are that volcanic emissions are at a much lower level than the effects of current human activities, which generate — times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes.
The annual amount put out by human activities may be greater than the amount released by supererruptions , the most recent of which was the Toba eruption in Indonesia 74, years ago. This can affect both global and local patterns of climate and atmosphere-ocean circulation. The locations of the seas are important in controlling the transfer of heat and moisture across the globe, and therefore, in determining global climate. A recent example of tectonic control on ocean circulation is the formation of the Isthmus of Panama about 5 million years ago, which shut off direct mixing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
This strongly affected the ocean dynamics of what is now the Gulf Stream and may have led to Northern Hemisphere ice cover. Because of the stabilizing effect of the oceans on temperature, yearly temperature variations are generally lower in coastal areas than they are inland.
A larger supercontinent will therefore have more area in which climate is strongly seasonal than will several smaller continents or islands. Other mechanisms The Earth receives an influx of ionized particles known as cosmic rays from a variety of external sources, including the Sun.
A hypothesis holds that an increase in the cosmic ray flux would increase the ionization in the atmosphere, leading to greater cloud cover. This, in turn, would tend to cool the surface. The non-solar cosmic ray flux may vary as a result of a nearby supernova event, the solar system passing through a dense interstellar cloud , or the oscillatory movement of the Sun's position with respect to the galactic plane.
The latter can increase the flux of high-energy cosmic rays coming from the Virgo cluster. The recovery time for this event took more than 30 years. Paleoclimatology is the study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of Earth. It uses a variety of proxy methods from the Earth and life sciences to obtain data previously preserved within things such as rocks , sediments , ice sheets , tree rings , corals , shells , and microfossils.
It then uses the records to determine the past states of the Earth 's various climate regions and its atmospheric system.
Notable climate events known to paleoclimatology are provided in this list of periods and events in climate history. Historical climatology is the study of historical changes in climate and their effect on human history and development. The primary sources include written records such as sagas , chronicles , maps and local history literature as well as pictorial representations such as paintings , drawings and even rock art.
Climate change in the recent past may be detected by corresponding changes in settlement and agricultural patterns.
Climate change effects have been linked to the rise  and also the collapse of various civilizations. Climate models project the following key temperature-related changes.
Key global projections Increases in average global temperatures are expected to be within the range of 0. Changes in temperatures are relative to averages. Observed and projected changes in global average temperature under four emissions pathways.
The vertical bars at right show likely ranges in temperature by the end of the century, while the lines show projections averaged across a range of climate models. Changes are relative to the average. Click the image to view a larger version. Key U. The brackets on the thermometers represent the likely range of model projections, though lower or higher outcomes are possible. Projections show that future precipitation and storm changes will vary by season and region.
Some regions may have less precipitation, some may have more precipitation, and some may have little or no change.
The amount of rain falling in heavy precipitation events is likely to increase in most regions, while storm tracks are projected to shift poleward. Projected changes in global annual mean precipitation for a low emissions scenario left and high emissions scenario right. Blue and green areas are projected to experience increases in precipitation by the end of the century, while yellow and brown areas are projected to experience decreases.
Key global projections Global average annual precipitation through the end of the century is expected to increase, although changes in the amount and intensity of precipitation will vary significantly by region. This will be particularly pronounced in tropical and high-latitude regions, which are also expected to experience overall increases in precipitation.
The amount of precipitation falling in tropical storms is also likely to increase.
The figure to the right shows projected regional differences in precipitation under two emission scenarios. Southern areas, especially the Southwest, are projected to become drier. Heavy downpours that currently occur about once every 20 years are projected to occur between twice and five times as frequently by , depending on location. Climate models project an increase in the number of the strongest Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, as well as greater rainfall rates in hurricanes.
The strongest cold-season storms are projected to become stronger and more frequent. For example, in winter and spring, climate models agree that northern areas in the United States are likely to get wetter and southern areas drier. There is less confidence in exactly where the transition between wetter and drier areas will occur.
Confidence in the projected changes is highest in the areas marked with diagonal lines. The changes in white areas are not projected to be larger than what would be expected from natural variability.
National Climate Assessment , Top of Page Future ice, snowpack, and permafrost Arctic sea ice is already declining. Over the next century, it is expected that sea ice will continue to decline, glaciers will continue to shrink, snow cover will continue to decrease, and permafrost will continue to thaw. Potential changes to ice, snow, and permafrost are described below.
These maps show projected losses of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica. The maps in a show the average ice concentration the relative area covered by sea ice from The maps in b and c show climate model simulations of sea ice thickness in February and September near the end of the 21st century under low b and high c emission scenarios.
In the Arctic, February is projected to have less ice more blue ; September is projected to be nearly ice-free almost all blue. The projected changes in Antarctic sea ice are more subtle. The coastal sections of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are expected to continue to melt or slide into the ocean.
If the rate of this ice melting increases in the 21st century, the ice sheets could add significantly to global sea level rise. The rate of melting is expected to continue to increase, which will contribute to sea level rise.