Forces that affect climate

  • Exhibition Text

    • Many factors influence climate. The Sun’s brightness and the Earth’s orbit and tilt relative to the Sun influence the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth. The extent of ice cover affects the amount of solar radiation that is reflected back into space. The amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapor in the atmosphere determine how much heat it traps. Atmospheric and oceanic circulation, which themselves depend on the configuration of the continents, influence the distribution of heat around the planet.

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  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Climate/Climate Change

      Keywords: Atmosphere, Climatology, Ocean-atmosphere interaction, Solar radiation, Climatic changes--Environmental aspects

      Audience: General

In This Section

Ice ages and the Earth’s orbit

Ice ages and the Earth’s orbit

A striking feature of the climate record for the past million years is the regularity of ice ages — intensely cold periods that appear to follow the combined effects of three regular cycles, or frequencies.