Beginning with the daily and annual cycles and using the power of ten to view longer time scales, Climate Science provides insight into how scientists use data to study climate variability. See an overview of climate processes for general background on Earth's climate system.
This graph is a reconstruction of lake salinity for Moon Lake, ND. The data (from Laird, et. al., 1996) indicates that the region was generally drier in the early part of the record than in more recent centuries, with an abrupt climate change around 1200 A.D. when the climate shifted from a pattern of regular droughts lasting decades to a wetter climate.
from instruments such as rain gauges and thermometers are limited in their
scope, we examine the past climate record using "paleoclimate proxies"
such as tree rings and ice cores to reconstruct past climate events. Patterns
can be found in many of these natural recorders such as the annual cycle
which can leave annual bands in trees, ice caps and some types of coral,
and longer term orbital cycles such as precession which are thought to
trigger major Ice Age events.
Oceans cover over 70% of the planets surface and their ability to retain and release heat make them one of the major drivers of weather and climate. ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation), PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation), NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) and the Thermohaline Circulation (THC) are among the ocean dynamics that may influence climate patterns. The above image is an animation of recent anomalies or irregularities in sea surface temperature (or SST) in the Pacific ocean.
Images (top to bottom) from CLIVAS, NOAA Photo Library, NGDC and CDC/NOAA.
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