Is climate change the same as global warming?

Not quite - climate change is the result of global warming. Global warming refers to how much the Earth's surface temperature is rising, and it is the effect of this warming on average weather conditions that is known as climate change.

While weather is what happens in a certain place at a certain time - such as whether it's snowing or raining in London one day, climate is the average weather a place experiences - such as how many snowy or rainy days are likely to occur in London in any given year.

Climate change alters these established patterns, leading to consequences: more frequent droughts and heatwaves, more devastating hurricanes, and more intense rainfall, to name a few. As well as causing more extreme weather events, climate change can also alter the timing of the seasons, disrupting the lives of plants and animals.

Dr Joeri Rogelj, Director of Research at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, says, 'Global warming and climate change have both occurred throughout Earth's history. But it's the speed at which the world is currently warming, and how fast the climate is changing, that is so concerning.'

The surface temperature of the planet has increased around 0.08°C per decade since 1880. However, the average rate of increase between 1981-2019 has been more than twice that rate. These changes are unquestionably the result of human actions.

Find out more about climate change and why it matters.

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Climate change

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