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Climate encompasses the temperatures, humidity, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and numerous other metrological factors in a given region over long periods of time, as opposed to the term weather, which refers to current activity. The climate of a location is affected by its latitude, terrain, altitude, persistent ice or snow cover, as well as nearby oceans and their currents. Climates can be classified using parameters such as temperature and rainfall to define specific climate types. The most commonly used classification scheme is the one originally developed by Wladimir Koeppen. The Thornthwaite system, in use since 1948, incorporates evapotranspiration in addition to temperature and precipitation information and is used in studying animal species diversity and potential impacts of climate changes. The Bergeron and Spatial Synoptic Classification systems focus on the origin of air masses defining the climate for certain areas .

Paleo climatology is the study and description of ancient climates using information from both non-biotic factors such as sediments found in lake beds and ice cores, and biotic factors such as tree rings and coral, and can be used to extend back the temperature or rainfall information for particular locations to a time before various weather instruments were used to monitor weather conditions. Climate models are mathematical models of past, present and future climates and can be used to describe the likely patterns of future changes


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