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What's the difference between climate change and global warming?
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Climate is commonly defined as the average weather for a specific location, region or the entire globe over an extended period of time (usually three decades). Climate change refers to a long-term shift in climate measured as a change in some or all of the features associated with weather, such as temperature, wind, precipitation. This can involve both changes in average conditions (e.g. mean daily temperature) and in the variability of the weather. For the term climate change to properly apply, the shift in conditions should continue over an extended period of time. Climate change can result from either natural or anthropogenic (human-influenced) causes. It should be noted that in a political context, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change uses the term climate change to refer specifically to human-induced climate change.
The term "global warming" refers to a sustained increase in global average surface temperature and so, is just one aspect of climate change. Global warming is often misunderstood to imply that the world will warm uniformly. In fact, as with any "average", there will be places that warm more or less than the average. Some areas may even cool. Also, an increase in average global temperature will be associated with changes in other aspects of the climate system as well, such as precipitation and winds, affecting weather patterns around the world.
Therefore, the more correct term to use would be "climate change", even when discussing the observed increase in global average temperature. Nevertheless, the term "global warming" is commonly used since it rapidly conveys one of the main ways in which the climate has changed.
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