Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change

The main difference between global warming and climate change is that the global warming is the raising surface temperature of the earth whereas the climate change is the result of global warming. Some effects of global warming include frequent drought, melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, etc., which are collectively known as climate change. 

Global warming and climate change are two effects of the human expansion of the ‘greenhouse effect’.  

Key Areas Covered  

1. What is Global Warming
     – Definition, Greenhouse Effect, Human Expansion of Greenhouse Effect
2. What is Climate Change
     – Definition, Long-Term Effects of Climate Change
3. What are the Similarities Between Global Warming and Climate Change
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Climate Change, Effects of Global Warming, Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming

Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change - Comparison Summary

What is Global Warming 

Global warming is the increase of the surface temperature of the earth. The main reason for global warming is the human expansion of the ‘greenhouse effect’. The life on earth totally depends on the energy of the sun. About half of the light energy reaching the earth is absorbed by the earth and released upwards in the form of infrared radiation. Our atmosphere traps this radiation with the help of greenhouse gases such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), etc. The 90% of the radiation is absorbed by these gases, radiating back towards the surface of the earth, giving rise to the greenhouse effect.  

Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change

Figure 1: Annual Temperature Local Records – 2015

However, with the industrial revolution, humans are changing the natural greenhouse effect. The burning of fossil fuels has increased the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide by more than a third during the past century. Moreover, the clearing of lands has increased greenhouse gases to a lesser extent. By this, the earth became warmer on average and this is called global warming.  

What is Climate Change 

Climate change is the collection of observable changes on earth, emerged due to global warming. The effect of the climate change on a particular region varies with time. Some of the long-term effects of climate change according to the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) are: 

  1. Continuous increasing of the earth’s temperature – The temperature rise is not uniform across the earth over time. However, temperature increase occurs through the entire earth to some extent, notably since the late 1970s. It is estimated that the average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F).  
    Main Difference - Global Warming vs Climate Change

    Figure 2: Indicators of Warming

  2. Lengthening of the growing season – The length of the frost-free season has been increasing since the 1980s, affecting the agriculture and ecosystems by lengthening the growing season.  
  3. Changes in precipitation pattern – The air in the atmosphere becomes warmer due to the increase in the temperature. Hence, more water evaporates from the water sources and the land. Due to the presence of more moisture in the air, rain and snow, called precipitation, increases. The average precipitation of some areas has increased while in some areas, it has decreased.  
  4. More drought and heat waves – Periods with the abnormally-hot weather become more intense than periods with cold weather. Also, the summer temperatures continuously increase, reducing the soil moisture.  
  5. Stronger and more intense hurricanes – The intensity, duration, and the frequency of hurricanes have increased since the 1980s. Hurricane-associated storms and rainfall intensity have also increased with the increasing temperature. 
  6. Rising the sea levels – Since the 1880s, global sea level has risen by 8 inches and it is predicted to increase by another 1-4 feet by 2100. The rising occurs by the added water from the melting ice in the Arctic regions and the expansion of water in the sea due to the high temperature.  
  7. Melting ice in the Arctic regions – The ice in the Arctic regions is predicted to melt in summer before mid-century due to the increasing temperature. This will make the Arctic ocean ice-free. 

Similarities Between Global Warming and Climate Change 

  • Global warming and climate change are the results of increasing temperature of the earth. 
  • Both negatively affect life on the earth. 

Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change 


Global warming refers to the gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants while the climate change refers to a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular, a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.  


The global warming occurs due to the human expansion of greenhouse effect while the climate change emerges due to global warming. 


Global warming is the increase of the earth’s average temperature while climate change includes the increasing temperature, changes in the wind and precipitation, lengthening of seasons, increased strength and frequency of extreme weather.  


Global warming is a worldwide phenomenon while climate change is either global or regional. 


In brief, global warming is the increasing temperature on the surface of the earth, which gives rise to the effects of climate change. Some of the climate changes include melting of Arctic ice, rising sea levels, altered precipitation patterns, and lengthened growing seasons. The main difference between global warming and climate change is their correspondence.  


1. “Climate Change Causes: A Blanket around the Earth.” NASA, NASA, 10 Aug. 2017, Available Here
2. “Global Climate Change: Effects.” NASA, NASA, 16 July 2018, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “2015 Annual Temperature Local Records” By Berkeley Earth – (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 2.”Diagram showing ten indicators of global warming” By US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Climatic Data Center – State of the Climate in 2009: Supplemental and Summary Materials: Report at a Glance: Highlights[1], US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Climatic Data Center, page 2. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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