• China’s emissions glimpsing the peak


    China recently announced its intention to peak its carbon-dioxide emissions. How soon could the emissions peak and at what absolute value? Libo Wu explores.
  • The greening of the Southern Hemisphere


    The 2010-2011 La Niña weather event brought lush vegetation to vast semi-arid regions in the Southern Hemisphere and altered the delicate balance of the global carbon sinks. Owen Gaffney explores how La Niña might change in the future and what that might imply.

Earth system definitions

The term “Earth system" refers to Earth´s interacting physical, chemical, and biological processes.

The system consists of the land, oceans, atmosphere and poles. It includes the planet's natural cycles — the carbon, water, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and other cycles — and deep Earth processes.
 
Life too is an integral part of the Earth system. Life affects the carbon, nitrogen, water, oxygen and many other cycles and processes.
 
The Earth system now includes human society, Our social and economic systems are now embedded within the Earth system. In many cases, the human systems are now the main drivers of change in the Earth system.

Global change

Global change refers to planetary-scale changes in the Earth system.
 
More completely, the term “global change" encompasses: planetary scale changes to atmospheric circulation, ocean circulation, climate, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the water cycle and other cycles, sea-ice changes, sea-level changes, food webs, biological diversity, pollution, health, fish stocks, and more.
 
Civilization is now a large driver of global change so the term includes population, the economy, resource use, energy, development, transport, communication, land use and land cover, urbanization, globalization.

Global change and climate

Climate refers to the long-term average of the aggregation of all components of weather — precipitation, temperature and cloudiness, for example. The climate system includes processes involving ocean, land and sea ice in addition to the atmosphere.

The Earth system encompasses the climate system. Many changes in Earth system functioning directly involve changes in climate. However, the Earth system includes other components and processes, biophysical and human, that are important for its functioning.

Some Earth system changes, natural or driven by humans, can have significant consequences without involving changes in climate. Global change should  not be confused with climate change; it is significantly more. indeed, climate change is part of this much larger challenge.

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  • Jun 24 - Jul 2, 2015

    8th World Environmental Education Congress: Planet and People - How can they develop together


    Who should come? The congress is an international meeting point for everyone working with education for environment and sustainable development or which have an interest in the field. WEEC 2015 is as such an opportunity to learn more about the latest in environmental and sustainability education, to discuss with people from all over the world, to share your own work and to learn from others. We are expecting participants from a wide range of countries. Are you maybe a researcher, educator, student, decision-maker, NGO or media working with or having an interest in education for environment and sustainable development, or are you just curious? Welcome!Are you interested in sharing your research or sharing good examples regarding education for environment and sustainable development? Perhaps you work with an interesting education model which you would like to share through for example a workshop? In that case we recommend you to submit an abstract by the 19 of December, 2014. The registration for the congress opens on the 15 of November, 2014.Examples of participants:
    • Researchers and educators at universities
    • Teachers teaching all ages
    • Students
    • Folk high-schools
    • Local, regional and national government agencies, municipalities
    • Officials from international organizations
    • NGOs
    • Managers of parks and protected areas
    • Private companies who are interested in environmental and sustainability issues and in education
    • Media/press
    The congress will discuss the role and importance of education for environment and sustainability at all levels ; both in higher education and for lower ages .Two main categories of abstracts can be submitted: academic abstracts and practitioner abstracts. As such, practitioner abstracts could be a description for example of a teaching model regarding environment and sustainability.
  • Aug 23 - Aug 28, 2015

    14th International Swiss Climate Summer School



  • Global Change Magazine No. 83


    This issue features a special section on carbon. You can read about peak greenhouse-gas emissions in China, the mitigation of black carbon emissions and the effect of the 2010-2011 La Niña event on gl...

  • Global Change Magazine No. 82


    This issue features a full-spread infographic on deltas at risk, accompanied by a Q&A with IGBP Chair James Syvitski. You can also read about coastal megacities, the progress in crystallising the Sust...
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