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Tiki the Penguin's guide to climate change and global warming — for kids
Poor polluted overheated planet
What is climate? What is weather?

The climate 'machine' making some weather Climate is a sort of huge 'machine'. What's called 'weather' is just a small bit of this machine which you and I notice: you know, a tornado, a blizzard, a hurricane , very hot weather or very cold weather. And I bet you know what drives this machine, don't you? Yes, it's the sun. Without the sun, there would be no climate, no weather, no people, no penguins, no life. So what's the difference between climate and weather? This short video helps explain.
The wonderful sun

The climate 'machine'
How does the weather work?

A tornado is a violent rotating thunderstorm. Wind speeds may reach 300mph in the narrow funnel which descends from the clouds and causes a trail of destruction on the ground. Although tornadoes can happen anywhere, they are commonest in the USA which has a 'tornado season' in early Spring. Most occur in the midwestern and south central states, sometimes called 'tornado alley'.
What are hurricanes?
Hurricanes are large rotating storms which bring heavy rains, floods and winds over 155mph in the worst (category 5) ones. They're common in the Caribbean region where they occur in a 'season' which peaks in September. They're also common in other parts of the world wherever there are warm seas. These storms are also called 'tropical cyclones' or 'typhoons'.
Weather and climate
Weather is what happens over days and weeks. It can be hugely variable, as you know. Climate is the weather averaged over many years. This can show a pattern, a trend. Over the last century, the trend has been for rising temperatures and more extreme weather events. This warming trend has been increasing in recent years and is what scientists mean when they speak about 'global warming'.

The sun warms the air...The sun warms the air and hot air rises bringing with it moisture from the sea. As the moist air rises, it expands. This makes it cooler and so any moisture in the air condenses to make clouds. ... hot moist air rises and makes clouds...
...clouds mean rain...And, as you know, clouds mean rain.
What is condensation?
The air in the atmosphere contains water vapour which you can't see. When the air cools to what is called the dewpoint, the water vapour becomes tiny droplets of liquid. It's called 'condensation' and can only take place round 'condensation nuclei', tiny particles such as dust. As they get carried higher by air currents, the droplets get colder and absorb still more water from the humid air around them. The droplets get bigger and it is these that forms clouds which, of course, you can see.
About rain
Rain drops form as the droplets of water that make clouds continue to rise higher inside the cloud. They bump into other droplets and become bigger and bigger. These are now rain drops and are heavy enough to fall out of the clouds onto you or me.

...rain makes things grow
The sun also warms the seas and oceans which makes huge currents of water — a little like winds, but inside the ocean. One of these huge currents is called the Gulf Streamin the North Atlantic Ocean. This keeps countries in Northern Europe warm even though they are nearer the North Pole than the equator. Another huge current — this time a cold current — affects Chile and Perú in South America. This is called the Humboldt current. It brings lots of food for fish to eat which once made the Peruvian fishing industry the biggest in the world. It also means that many seabirds can live there... including penguins. All these things — the oceans, the atmosphere, the hot and the cold parts of the planet, deserts, rainforests — all depend upon climate and upon the sun.
Why rainforests are so important
Rainforests like those of the Amazon and Congo are doubly important. Why? Because they 'make' their own climate. The trees soak up rain and evaporate moisture through their leaves to form clouds... you know the rest. They're important for many reasons, one of which is that if people burn them or cut them all down, the land that's left is usually poor and the whole climate can change to much hotter and drier. This could happen within a few years because of all the logging and burning that people are doing.

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