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6.1: Introduction

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    Climate is an average of the long-term weather patterns across a geographic area, which is a complicated metric controlled by factors within the lithosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and anthroposphere as well as factors beyond our own planet. It is helpful to separate out humans from other life (anthroposphere verses biosphere) for several reasons, primarily because many of our activities are unique amongst life (industrialization) and it is helpful in understanding our role in climate change. Therefore, the science examining past, current, and future climate are extremely complex and interdisciplinary. You may not think of climate as a geological field of study, but the history of climate is recorded within rocks, the current climate is altered by geologic events, and future climate will be influenced by our use of geological resources such as fossil fuels. In addition to the complex nature of this subject, it is also one, if not the most, important scientific fields of study both in terms of understanding the dynamics and implications of future climate change as well as attempting to combat or mitigate the potential effects.


    Though the basic science behind climate and climate change has been well studied to a point of near consensus within the scientific community, there is still significant debate amongst the broader population. This is likely related to many factors beyond science including economics, politics, the portrayal of science by the media, and the overall public’s scientific literacy. Gaining a better understanding of this issue is difficult given the enormous wealth of information and disparity in scientific literacy. This lab will explore this issue by examining climate data as well as how we, as scientists or scientific-minded citizens, make interpretations and conclusions regarding data, how it is presented, and how it relates to our understanding of the world around us.


    Key Terms

    • Albedo
    • Climate Proxies
    • Climate System
    • Greenhouse Gases
    • Ice Extent
    • Negative Feedback
    • Ocean Gyres
    • Positive Feedback

    This page titled 6.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Deline, Harris & Tefend (GALILEO Open Learning Materials) .

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