Global Warming: What Is the Climate System?

Introduction
It may seem hard to believe that people can actually change the Earth's climate. But scientists think that the things people do that send greenhouse gases into the air are making our planet warmer.

Atmosphere
The atmosphere covers the Earth. It is a thin layer of mixed gases, which make up the air we breathe. This thin layer also helps the Earth from becoming too hot or too cold, much like clothing does for us. Weather systems, which develop in the lower atmosphere, are driven by heat from the sun, the rotation of the Earth, and variations in the Earth's surface.

Oceans
Oceans cover about 70 percent of Earth's surface. Their large mass and thermal properties, enable them to store vast quantities of heat. Oceans buffer and regulate temperature - energy absorbed or lost by the oceans results in a smaller surface temperature change than would occur over land. The atmosphere and ocean constantly exchange energy and matter. For example, water evaporates from the oceans into the atmosphere. This moisture then falls back to the Earth as precipitation - rain, snow, sleet, and even the morning dew on the grass.

Land
Land covers 27 percent of Earth's surface, and land topography influences weather patterns. For example, the weather in areas covered by mountains can be completely different than the weather in areas where the land is mostly flat.

Ice
Ice is the world's largest supply of freshwater. It covers the remaining 3 percent of Earth's surface including most of Antarctica and Greenland. Because ice is highly reflective and because of its insulating properties, ice plays an important role in regulating climate.

Biosphere
The biosphere is that part of Earth's atmosphere, land, oceans that supports any living plant, animal, or organism. It is the place where plants and animals, including humans, live. Large quantities of carbon dioxide are exchanged between the land-based biosphere and the atmosphere as plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, and animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

More on Global Warming & Environmental Science

Information provided by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If you need to teach it, we have it covered.

Start your free trial to gain instant access to thousands of expertly curated worksheets, activities, and lessons created by educational publishers and teachers.

Start Your Free Trial

Follow us on:

Follow TeacherVision on Facebook
Follow TeacherVision on Google Plus

Highlights

December Calendar of Events
December is full of events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum! Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event. Happy holidays!

Bullying Prevention Resources
Bullying can cause both physical and emotional harm. Put a stop to classroom bullying, with our bullying prevention resources. Learn how to recognize several forms of bullying and teasing, and discover effective techniques for dealing with and preventing bullying in school.

Conflict Resolution
Teach your students to how resolve conflict amongst themselves without resorting to name-calling, fights, and tattling.

Immigration Resources
Studying immigration brings to light the many interesting and diverse cultures in the world.