The overall state of the of the global climate is determined by the balance of solar and terrestrial radiation budgets (see Figure 1.3). How this energy balance is regulated depends upon the fluxes of energy, moisture, mass and momentum within global climate system, made up of its 5 components, the atmosphere, the oceans, the cryosphere, the biosphere and the geosphere. This is schematised in Figure 1.8.
Arguably there is a sixth component, an anthropogenic system, mankind. In the last 200 years, through increased utilisation of the world’s resources, humans have begun to influence the global climate system, primarily by increasing the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. Chapter 6 reviews the subject of contemporary climate change. The next chapter examines some causes of climate change, with reference to the global climate system discussed in this chapter.