A glacial period is an interval of time within an ice age, marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances. Interglacials, on the other hand, are periods of warmer climate between glacial periods; the last glacial period ended about 15,000 years ago. The Holocene epoch is the current interglacial. A time with no glaciers on Earth is considered a greenhouse climate state. Within the Quaternary, there have been a number of interglacials; the last glacial period was the most recent glacial period within the Quaternary Ice Age, occurring in the Pleistocene epoch, which began about 110,000 years ago and ended about 15,000 years ago. The glaciations that occurred during this glacial period covered many areas of the Northern Hemisphere and have different names, depending on their geographic distributions: Wisconsin, Midlandian, Würm, Dali, Taibai Luojishan, Tianchi Qomolangma, Llanquihue; the glacial advance reached its maximum extent about 18,000 BP. In Europe, the ice sheet reached Northern Germany.
In the last 650,000 years, there were, on average, seven cycles of glacial retreat. Since orbital variations are predictable, computer models that relate orbital variations to climate can predict future climate possibilities. Work by Berger and Loutre suggests; the amount of heat trapping gases emitted into Earth's Oceans and atmosphere will prevent the next glacial period, which otherwise would begin in around 1,000 years, more glacial cycles
In meteorology, precipitation is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation include drizzle, sleet, snow and hail. Precipitation occurs when a portion of the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapor, so that the water condenses and "precipitates", thus and mist are not precipitation but suspensions, because the water vapor does not condense sufficiently to precipitate. Two processes acting together, can lead to air becoming saturated: cooling the air or adding water vapor to the air. Precipitation forms as smaller droplets coalesce via collision with other rain drops or ice crystals within a cloud. Short, intense periods of rain in scattered locations are called "showers."Moisture, lifted or otherwise forced to rise over a layer of sub-freezing air at the surface may be condensed into clouds and rain. This process is active when freezing rain occurs. A stationary front is present near the area of freezing rain and serves as the foci for forcing and rising air.
Provided necessary and sufficient atmospheric moisture content, the moisture within the rising air will condense into clouds, namely stratus and cumulonimbus. The cloud droplets will grow large enough to form raindrops and descend toward the Earth where they will freeze on contact with exposed objects. Where warm water bodies are present, for example due to water evaporation from lakes, lake-effect snowfall becomes a concern downwind of the warm lakes within the cold cyclonic flow around the backside of extratropical cyclones. Lake-effect snowfall can be locally heavy. Thundersnow is possible within lake effect precipitation bands. In mountainous areas, heavy precipitation is possible where upslope flow is maximized within windward sides of the terrain at elevation. On the leeward side of mountains, desert climates can exist due to the dry air caused by compressional heating. Most precipitation is caused by convection; the movement of the monsoon trough, or intertropical convergence zone, brings rainy seasons to savannah climes.
Precipitation is a major component of the water cycle, is responsible for depositing the fresh water on the planet. 505,000 cubic kilometres of water falls as precipitation each year. Given the Earth's surface area, that means the globally averaged annual precipitation is 990 millimetres, but over land it is only 715 millimetres. Climate classification systems such as the Köppen climate classification system use average annual rainfall to help differentiate between differing climate regimes. Precipitation may occur on other celestial bodies, e.g. when it gets cold, Mars has precipitation which most takes the form of frost, rather than rain or snow. Precipitation is a major component of the water cycle, is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the planet. 505,000 km3 of water falls as precipitation each year, 398,000 km3 of it over the oceans. Given the Earth's surface area, that means the globally averaged annual precipitation is 990 millimetres. Mechanisms of producing precipitation include convective and orographic rainfall.
Convective processes involve strong vertical motions that can cause the overturning of the atmosphere in that location within an hour and cause heavy precipitation, while stratiform processes involve weaker upward motions and less intense precipitation. Precipitation can be divided into three categories, based on whether it falls as liquid water, liquid water that freezes on contact with the surface, or ice. Mixtures of different types of precipitation, including types in different categories, can fall simultaneously. Liquid forms of precipitation include drizzle. Rain or drizzle that freezes on contact within a subfreezing air mass is called "freezing rain" or "freezing drizzle". Frozen forms of precipitation include snow, ice needles, ice pellets and graupel; the dew point is the temperature to which a parcel must be cooled in order to become saturated, condenses to water. Water vapor begins to condense on condensation nuclei such as dust and salt in order to form clouds. An elevated portion of a frontal zone forces broad areas of lift, which form clouds decks such as altostratus or cirrostratus.
Stratus is a stable cloud deck which tends to form when a cool, stable air mass is trapped underneath a warm air mass. It can form due to the lifting of advection fog during breezy conditions. There are four main mechanisms for cooling the air to its dew point: adiabatic cooling, conductive cooling, radiational cooling, evaporative cooling. Adiabatic cooling occurs when air expands; the air can rise due to convection, large-scale atmospheric motions, or a physical barrier such as a mountain. Conductive cooling occurs when the air comes into contact with a colder surface by being blown from one surface to another, for example from a liquid water surface to colder land. Radiational cooling occurs due to the emission of infrared radiation, either by the air or by the surface underneath. Evaporative cooling occurs when moisture is added to the air through evaporation, which forces the air temperature to cool to its wet-bulb temperature, or until it reaches saturation; the main ways water vapor is added to the air are: wind convergence into areas of upward motion, precipitation or virga falling from above, daytime heating evaporating water from the surface of oceans, water bodies or wet lan
A glacier is a persistent body of dense ice, moving under its own weight. Glaciers deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses and other distinguishing features, they abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques and moraines. Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the surface of bodies of water. On Earth, 99% of glacial ice is contained within vast ice sheets in the polar regions, but glaciers may be found in mountain ranges on every continent including Oceania's high-latitude oceanic island countries such as New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Between 35°N and 35°S, glaciers occur only in the Himalayas, Rocky Mountains, a few high mountains in East Africa, New Guinea and on Zard Kuh in Iran. Glaciers cover about 10 percent of Earth's land surface. Continental glaciers cover nearly 13 million km2 or about 98 percent of Antarctica's 13.2 million km2, with an average thickness of 2,100 m.
Greenland and Patagonia have huge expanses of continental glaciers. Glacial ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth. Many glaciers from temperate and seasonal polar climates store water as ice during the colder seasons and release it in the form of meltwater as warmer summer temperatures cause the glacier to melt, creating a water source, important for plants and human uses when other sources may be scant. Within high-altitude and Antarctic environments, the seasonal temperature difference is not sufficient to release meltwater. Since glacial mass is affected by long-term climatic changes, e.g. precipitation, mean temperature, cloud cover, glacial mass changes are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change and are a major source of variations in sea level. A large piece of compressed ice, or a glacier, appears blue, as large quantities of water appear blue; this is. The other reason for the blue color of glaciers is the lack of air bubbles. Air bubbles, which give a white color to ice, are squeezed out by pressure increasing the density of the created ice.
The word glacier is a loanword from French and goes back, via Franco-Provençal, to the Vulgar Latin glaciārium, derived from the Late Latin glacia, Latin glaciēs, meaning "ice". The processes and features caused by or related to glaciers are referred to as glacial; the process of glacier establishment and flow is called glaciation. The corresponding area of study is called glaciology. Glaciers are important components of the global cryosphere. Glaciers are categorized by their morphology, thermal characteristics, behavior. Cirque glaciers form on the slopes of mountains. A glacier that fills a valley is called a valley glacier, or alternatively an alpine glacier or mountain glacier. A large body of glacial ice astride a mountain, mountain range, or volcano is termed an ice cap or ice field. Ice caps have an area less than 50,000 km2 by definition. Glacial bodies larger than 50,000 km2 are called continental glaciers. Several kilometers deep, they obscure the underlying topography. Only nunataks protrude from their surfaces.
The only extant ice sheets are the two that cover most of Greenland. They contain vast quantities of fresh water, enough that if both melted, global sea levels would rise by over 70 m. Portions of an ice sheet or cap that extend into water are called ice shelves. Narrow, fast-moving sections of an ice sheet are called ice streams. In Antarctica, many ice streams drain into large ice shelves; some drain directly into the sea with an ice tongue, like Mertz Glacier. Tidewater glaciers are glaciers that terminate in the sea, including most glaciers flowing from Greenland, Antarctica and Ellesmere Islands in Canada, Southeast Alaska, the Northern and Southern Patagonian Ice Fields; as the ice reaches the sea, pieces break off, or calve. Most tidewater glaciers calve above sea level, which results in a tremendous impact as the iceberg strikes the water. Tidewater glaciers undergo centuries-long cycles of advance and retreat that are much less affected by the climate change than those of other glaciers.
Thermally, a temperate glacier is at melting point throughout the year, from its surface to its base. The ice of a polar glacier is always below the freezing point from the surface to its base, although the surface snowpack may experience seasonal melting. A sub-polar glacier includes both temperate and polar ice, depending on depth beneath the surface and position along the length of the glacier. In a similar way, the thermal regime of a glacier is described by its basal temperature. A cold-based glacier is below freezing at the ice-ground interface, is thus frozen to the underlying substrate. A warm-based glacier is above or at freezing at the interface, is able to slide at this contact; this contrast is thought to a large extent to govern the ability of a glacier to erode its bed, as sliding ice promotes plucking at rock from the surface below. Glaciers which are cold-based and warm-based are known as polythermal. Glaciers form where the accumulation of ice exceeds ablation. A glacier originates from a landform called'cirque' – a armchair-shaped geological feature (such as a depressio
Climate change occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades, maybe for millions of years. The climate system is comprised of five interacting parts, the atmosphere, cryosphere and lithosphere; the climate system receives nearly all of its energy from the sun, with a tiny amount from earth's interior. The climate system gives off energy to outer space; the balance of incoming and outgoing energy, the passage of the energy through the climate system, determines Earth's energy budget. When the incoming energy is greater than the outgoing energy, earth's energy budget is positive and the climate system is warming. If more energy goes out, the energy budget is negative and earth experiences cooling; as this energy moves through Earth's climate system, it creates Earth's weather and long-term averages of weather are called "climate". Changes in the long term average are called "climate change"; such changes can be the result of "internal variability", when natural processes inherent to the various parts of the climate system alter Earth's energy budget.
Examples include cyclical ocean patterns such as the well-known El Nino Southern Oscillation and less familiar Pacific decadal oscillation and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. Climate change can result from "external forcing", when events outside of the climate system's five parts nonetheless produce changes within the system. Examples include changes in solar volcanism. Human activities can change earth's climate, are presently driving climate change through global warming. There is no general agreement in scientific, media or policy documents as to the precise term to be used to refer to anthropogenic forced change; the field of climatology incorporates many disparate fields of research. For ancient periods of climate change, researchers rely on evidence preserved in climate proxies, such as ice cores, ancient tree rings, geologic records of changes in sea level, glacial geology. Physical evidence of current climate change covers many independent lines of evidence, a few of which are temperature records, the disappearance of ice, extreme weather events.
The most general definition of climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over long periods of time, regardless of cause. Accordingly, fluctuations over periods shorter than a few decades, such as El Niño, do not represent climate change; the term "climate change" is used to refer to anthropogenic climate change. Anthropogenic climate change is caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of Earth's natural processes. In this sense in the context of environmental policy, the term climate change has become synonymous with anthropogenic global warming. Within scientific journals, global warming refers to surface temperature increases while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas levels affect. A related term, "climatic change", was proposed by the World Meteorological Organization in 1966 to encompass all forms of climatic variability on time-scales longer than 10 years, but regardless of cause.
During the 1970s, the term climate change replaced climatic change to focus on anthropogenic causes, as it became clear that human activities had a potential to drastically alter the climate. Climate change was incorporated in the title of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Climate change is now used as both a technical description of the process, as well as a noun used to describe the problem. Prior to the 18th century, scientists had not suspected that prehistoric climates were different from the modern period. By the late 18th century, geologists found evidence of a succession of geological ages with changes in climate. In the years since, a great deal of scientific progress has been made understanding the workings of the climate system. On the broadest scale, the rate at which energy is received from the Sun and the rate at which it is lost to space determine the equilibrium temperature and climate of Earth; this energy is distributed around the globe by winds, ocean currents, other mechanisms to affect the climates of different regions.
Factors that can shape climate are called climate forcings or "forcing mechanisms". These include processes such as variations in solar radiation, variations in the Earth's orbit, variations in the albedo or reflectivity of the continents and oceans, mountain-building and continental drift and changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. There are a variety of climate change feedbacks that can either amplify or diminish the initial forcing; some parts of the climate system, such as the oceans and ice caps, respond more in reaction to climate forcings, while others respond more quickly. There are key threshold factors which when exceeded can produce rapid change. Forcing mechanisms can be either "internal" or "external". Internal forcing mechanisms are natural processes within the climate system itself. External forcing mechanisms can be either natural. Whether the initial forcing mechanism is internal or external, the response of the climate system might be fast, slow (e.g. thermal exp
A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land, dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may be applied to the inflow of the tide. Floods are an area of study of the discipline hydrology and are of significant concern in agriculture, civil engineering and public health. Flooding may occur as an overflow of water from water bodies, such as a river, lake, or ocean, in which the water overtops or breaks levees, resulting in some of that water escaping its usual boundaries, or it may occur due to an accumulation of rainwater on saturated ground in an areal flood. While the size of a lake or other body of water will vary with seasonal changes in precipitation and snow melt, these changes in size are unlikely to be considered significant unless they flood property or drown domestic animals. Floods can occur in rivers when the flow rate exceeds the capacity of the river channel at bends or meanders in the waterway. Floods cause damage to homes and businesses if they are in the natural flood plains of rivers.
While riverine flood damage can be eliminated by moving away from rivers and other bodies of water, people have traditionally lived and worked by rivers because the land is flat and fertile and because rivers provide easy travel and access to commerce and industry. Some floods develop while others such as flash floods can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or large, affecting entire river basins; the word "flood" comes from a word common to Germanic languages. Floods can happen on flat or low-lying areas when water is supplied by rainfall or snowmelt more than it can either infiltrate or run off; the excess accumulates in place, sometimes to hazardous depths. Surface soil can become saturated, which stops infiltration, where the water table is shallow, such as a floodplain, or from intense rain from one or a series of storms. Infiltration is slow to negligible through frozen ground, concrete, paving, or roofs.
Areal flooding begins in flat areas like floodplains and in local depressions not connected to a stream channel, because the velocity of overland flow depends on the surface slope. Endorheic basins may experience areal flooding during periods when precipitation exceeds evaporation. Floods occur in all types of river and stream channels, from the smallest ephemeral streams in humid zones to normally-dry channels in arid climates to the world's largest rivers; when overland flow occurs on tilled fields, it can result in a muddy flood where sediments are picked up by run off and carried as suspended matter or bed load. Localized flooding may be caused or exacerbated by drainage obstructions such as landslides, debris, or beaver dams. Slow-rising floods most occur in large rivers with large catchment areas; the increase in flow may be the result of sustained rainfall, rapid snow melt, monsoons, or tropical cyclones. However, large rivers may have rapid flooding events in areas with dry climate, since they may have large basins but small river channels and rainfall can be intense in smaller areas of those basins.
Rapid flooding events, including flash floods, more occur on smaller rivers, rivers with steep valleys, rivers that flow for much of their length over impermeable terrain, or normally-dry channels. The cause may be localized convective precipitation or sudden release from an upstream impoundment created behind a dam, landslide, or glacier. In one instance, a flash flood killed eight people enjoying the water on a Sunday afternoon at a popular waterfall in a narrow canyon. Without any observed rainfall, the flow rate increased from about 50 to 1,500 cubic feet per second in just one minute. Two larger floods occurred at the same site within a week, but no one was at the waterfall on those days; the deadly flood resulted from a thunderstorm over part of the drainage basin, where steep, bare rock slopes are common and the thin soil was saturated. Flash floods are the most common flood type in normally-dry channels in arid zones, known as arroyos in the southwest United States and many other names elsewhere.
In that setting, the first flood water to arrive is depleted. The leading edge of the flood thus advances more than and higher flows; as a result, the rising limb of the hydrograph becomes quicker as the flood moves downstream, until the flow rate is so great that the depletion by wetting soil becomes insignificant. Flooding in estuaries is caused by a combination of sea tidal surges caused by winds and low barometric pressure, they may be exacerbated by high upstream river flow. Coastal areas may be flooded by storm events at sea, resulting in waves over-topping defenses or in severe cases by tsunami or tropical cyclones. A storm surge, from either a tropical cyclone or an extratropical cyclone, falls within this category. Research from the NHC explains: "Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide.
This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases." Urban flooding is the inundation of land or property in a built environment in more densely populated areas, caused by rainfall overwhelmi