What Are the Two Main Factors That Determine Climate?

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The two main factors that determine climate are temperature and the amount of precipitation an area gets. The climate of an area is determined over a long period of time, generally more than a lifetime.

Other factors that can determine the climate of an area include the global wind patterns in the atmosphere, such as westerlies and trade winds. The types of landforms in a particular area can also affect the climate. For example, mountains can force air to move upwards, which will eventually form clouds and precipitation. Continental movement can also cause a change in climate. This movement occurs over a period of thousands of years, which can make the prediction of the climate in an area difficult without the use of complex computer models. The climate of an area usually does not change much during the lifetime of a human.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the majority of climate changes could be traced to natural occurrences, such as volcanoes, changes in solar energy and greenhouse gas concentrations. Recently, there are climate changes that cannot be explained by natural phenomena, such as observed warming, often referred to as global warming. Much of this warming is explained by human activity, which includes the pollution that is put into the air and the use of energy.