"Climate change" is the term used to refer to changes in the weather over time; usually referring to average changes in the atmosphere and state of the Oceans over a period of a few decades.
The changes may be caused by natural Earth processes (volcano eruptions, orbital variations) and external forces (level of solar activity). More recently, climate change is also linked to human activities (carbon dioxide emissions due to use of fossil fuels for energy).
Today, “climate change” usually refers to recent changes, whose main effect is the increase in average surface temperature, the so-called “global warming”. Recent studies show that the current increase in greenhouse gases is the primary cause of global warming.
According to scientific research, the warming produced – as greenhouse gases trap heat – plays a key role in regulating Earth's temperature. However, since the Industrial Revolution and its increased use of fossil fuels, the percentage of greenhouse gases and especially carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen to their highest level in the last 800.000 years. The impacts of climate change on the Mediterranean environment have been researched thanks to a European project called CIRCE (www.circeproject.eu).