Climate Variability and Change: Basic Concepts

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona

The climate system is dynamic and complex. While weather conditionschange over short periods of time, such as when anvil-shaped clouds burst in the late afternoon during monsoon season, climate describes average conditions over longer intervals. Understanding this distinction and other basic concepts such as radiative forcing and the enhanced greenhouse gas effect can clarify how the climate is changing and how humans have contributed to …

Climate Change Assessments

Adapted from Joyce, L.A. 2008. Climate Change Assessments (May 20, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/topics/assessments.shtml

Issue

The science associated with climate and its effects on ecosystems, economies, and social systems is developing rapidly. Climate change assessments can serve as an important synthesis of this science and provide the information and context for management and policy decisions on adaptation and mitigation.

The purpose of a climate change assessment is to synthesize, evaluate, and report …

Basics of Climate Models

Adapted from Barsugli, J., K. Averyt, and A. Ray. How Climate Models Work. (August 7, 2009). Southwest Climate Change Network.

News headlines about climate change research often are based on climate models. But to most people, the way these models function is a mystery.

Researchers are continually improving the ability of climate models to simulate realistic climate. The models are imperfect descriptions of the Earth’s climate system, but their progress has advanced the understanding of future climate change and expanded …

Weather and Climate

RainbowWeather and climate are often confused. In this article, we explore how climate and weather are different from and related to each other.

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona
Figure 1. As an example of climate, thunderstorms usually occur during the summer months in the southwestern United States, whereas each individual storm represents an example of weather. Photo by Terry Spivey, USDA Forest Service via forestryimages.com

Do you trust your local …

Natural Variability and Climate Change

Image:Forest field trip.jpgClimate naturally varies over a variety of different scales. Learn some of the aspects that influence climate variation here.

 

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona
Figure 1. Climate naturally varies on a number of different scales (e.g., temperature, precipitation, geographically). Such changes influence species’ distributions, phenology, and migration patterns in every ecosystem. Photo courtesy of Chris Schnepf, University of Idaho.

The climate varies naturally from one year to the next. Climate …