Climate change is the alteration of temperature and normal weather patterns in a place. This could refer to a particular location on the planet or the planet as a whole. Climate change is currently happening throughout the world as a result of global warming. When humans burn fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, and coal, gases are released into Earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap the heat from the Sun’s rays inside the atmosphere, causing global warming, or a rise in the planet’s overall temperature.

The warming of the planet impacts local and regional climates. The term climate refers to the usual weather of a place. This includes average seasonal temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, and wind patterns. Different places have different climates. A desert, for example, is referred to as an arid climate because it is usually hot in summer, cold in winter, and dry all year round. The effects of climate change, however, make weather patterns more unpredictable. In a desert, that may mean that higher than average temperatures can produce more severe and prolonged droughts. Unpredictable weather patterns can also make it difficult to grow crops and maintain farmland.

In polar regions, climate change has meant that ice sheets and glaciers are melting at an accelerated rate from season to season. This contributes to sea levels rising in different regions of the planet. Together with expanding ocean waters due to rising temperatures, the resulting rise in sea level has begun to damage coastlines as a result of increased flooding and erosion.


Climate Refugees

Refugees are often forced to flee their homes due to human violence: war, terrorism, and persecution. However, climate can also play a role. A severe drought forced this woman and her clan to move over 240 kilometers (150 miles) in order to find water.




gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.


area of land that receives no more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation a year.


period of greatly reduced precipitation.


act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

fossil fuel

coal, oil, or natural gas. Fossil fuels formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals.


mass of ice that moves slowly over land.