atmosphere: The envelope of gases surrounding Earth, another planet or a moon.
average: (in science) A term for the arithmetic mean, which is the sum of a group of numbers that is then divided by the size of the group.
climate change: Long-term, significant change in the climate of Earth. It can happen naturally or in response to human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests.
glacier: A slow-moving river of ice hundreds or thousands of meters deep. Glaciers are found in mountain valleys and also form parts of ice sheets.
global warming: The gradual increase in the overall temperature of Earth’s atmosphere due to the greenhouse effect. This effect is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and other gases in the air, many of them released by human activity.
greenhouse gases: Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by absorbing heat. Carbon dioxide and methane are two examples of such gases.
poles: (in Earth science and astronomy) The cold regions of the planet that exist farthest from the equator; the upper and lower ends of the virtual axis around which a celestial object rotates.
sea level: The overall level of the ocean over the entire globe when all tides and other short-term changes are averaged out.
tropics: The region near Earth’s equator. Temperatures here are generally warm to hot, year-round.
tropopause: A boundary between the two lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere, the troposphere and the stratosphere. That boundary layer varies with latitude, running from a height of about 6 kilometers (4 miles) over the poles to 18 kilometers (11 miles) over the equator.
troposphere: The lowest level of Earth’s atmosphere. It runs from the planet’s surface to a height of 8 to 14 kilometers (5 to 9 miles), depending on the latitude. It’s the region where the air is thickest and where most weather occurs. Air currents moving through this region often flow not only horizontally, but often vertically (up and down).
weather: Conditions in the atmosphere at a localized place and a particular time. It is usually described in terms of particular features, such as air pressure, humidity, moisture, any precipitation (rain, snow or ice), temperature and wind speed. Weather constitutes the actual conditions that occur at any time and place. It’s different from climate, which is a description of the conditions that tend to occur in some general region during a particular month or season.
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