How the Climate System Works

2013 continued a trend of water vapor in the surface atmosphere increasing over land and ocean relative to the 1970s, while the atmosphere over land becomes less saturated. 

July 2011

  • In the Arctic, an ocean is surrounded by continents, while Antarctica is continent surrounded by oceans. These differences in the arrangement of land and water contribute to differences in each polar region’s climate, oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns, and seasonal and long-term sea ice patterns.