Climate and CO2
Climate is usually defined as the “average weather” or the statistical description of the weather over a period of time. In a wider sense it is used to describe the state of the climate system, which is not an isolated system but one that interacts with the hydrosphere (oceans, lakes, rivers), the cryosphere (ice and snow), the lithosphere (soil and rock layers) and the biosphere (plants and animals). The most important interactions on time scales of up to hundreds of years are those between atmosphere and ocean, and between atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation.
Carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring greenhouse gas, affects the climate system through the carbon cycle. Billions of tones of atmospheric CO2 are removed from the atmosphere by oceans and growing plants, known as ‘sinks’, and are emitted back into the atmosphere annually through natural processes also known as ‘sources’. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased since the industrial revolution and continue to increase as a result of human activities, such as fossil fuel burning, deforestation and reckless economic growth.
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