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The study of long-term weather patterns in and climate (including temperature and precipitation) in planetary atmospheres.

Global atmospheric and climatic changes may be caused naturally by changes in the planetary orbit, variations in solar output, changes in atmospheric composition (such as greenhouse gases from organisms, volcanic eruptions or industry), ocean currents, or by intentional terraforming processes. Study of past climates and careful simulations allow accurate predictions about near-term weather patterns, climate changes, and the effect of development, colonization, and other activities on the local climate.

Paleoclimatology is the study of the climate in the distant past.

See also