Predicting Climate

This section presents information on how climate scientists develop scientific predictions about future climate.

1.  Physical laws regarding the transfer of energy among various solids, liquids, and gases determine the surface temperature of all planets. On Earth, recent changes in the composition of our atmosphere are changing the balance of incoming and outgoing energy, forcing the climate to warm. Read about Climate Forcing »

2.  Scientists have a solid understanding of the physical laws that control Earth's climate. They can characterize different parts of the Earth system—and the interactions of energy between them—as equations, and use computers to solve the equations to project energy interactions into the future. Systems built to make these projections are called climate models. Learn more about Climate Models »

3.  As heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels accumulate in our atmosphere, more heat energy enters the Earth system than exits. Some portions of the Earth system will respond to changes in the energy balance more quickly than others, but climate scientists feel confident that future climate will be increasingly different from that of today. Read about Future Climate »