Natural Climate Patterns

Natural variability can explain much of Earth's average temperature variation since the end of the last ice age, but over the past century, global average temperature has risen from near the coldest to the warmest levels in the past 11,300 years.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

  • globes showing pressure patterns during positive and negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation

    Large-scale shifting of the weight of the atmosphere between mid- and high latitudes creates climate patterns known as the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations. These patterns have a big influence on winter weather in the Eastern U.S.

  • The ocean is the largest solar energy collector on Earth. More than 90 percent of the warming that has happened on Earth over the past 50 years has occurred in the ocean. Not all of that heating is detectable at the surface because currents move some of the heat to deeper layers of water, where it can "hide" for years or decades.