Causes of Climate Change: 9 Natural Causes of Climate Change

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Causes of Climate Change- 9 Natural Causes of Climate Change. The nine natural causes of climate change are Solar Variation, Volcanic Eruptions, Axial Tilt, Precession, Eccentricity, Continental Drift, Ocean Current, Natural Forest Fires, and Natural Greenhouse Gases. 

Climate Change

Climate change refers to the prolonged change of weather conditions such as temperature, snowfall, rainfall, tsunami, and drought on the Earth. It means different weather on the Earth compared to earlier decades. So, climate change denotes global warming on the Earth.  For example, now the Earth is warmer than thousand of years before. NASA scientists have stated that the Earth’s temperature has increased rapidly in the past 150 years. It is estimated that approximately 2 degrees Fahrenheit temperature has been raised in the last 100 years. Although the Earth’s temperature has constantly been evolving, the latest five years were the warmest years in the century. Therefore, climate change has been a much-talked topic for global leaders. Scientists mention the natural and human causes of climate change on the planet.

Causes of Climate Change

Climate change causes refer to the natural factors and human activities that change the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists have identified many natural factors and human activities that influence changing the global atmosphere.

Natural Causes of Climate Change

The natural causes of climate change refer to the natural factors and activities that change the Earth’s atmosphere. It might occur throughout the cycle of the Earth’s motion, ocean current, plates movement, volcanic eruption, natural forest fire, and greenhouse gases. The natural causes are natural factors that occur mostly automatically rather than people’s contribution.

Natural Causes of Climate Change Diagram
Nine Causes of Climate Change & Natural Cause of Climate Change
Natural Causes of Climate Change
What are the natural causes of climate change?

Natural Causes of Climate Change

The 9 Natural Causes of Climate Change are:
  1. Solar Variation
  2. Volcanic Eruptions
  3. Axial Tilt
  4. Precession
  5. Eccentricity
  6. Continental Drift
  7. Ocean Current
  8. Natural Forest Fire
  9. Natural Greenhouse Gases. 
1. Solar Variation (Sunspot)
The most significant natural cause of climate change is the solar variation that changes the global atmosphere gradually. Solar variation means emitting different amounts of radiation from the sun. The amount of solar radiation depends on the sunspots driven by the sun’s magnetism. Sunspots emit more heat from the sun, and that makes the Earth warmer. They look like black holes that throwing more solar radiation toward the planet compared to the natural part of the sun. However, the solar variation and sunspots are related to the solar magnetic cycle or solar activities. Sunspots are also known as storms on the outside layer of the sun.  It plays a critical role in ejecting solar gassy and flares from the sun’s corona.
Solar Variation and Sunspots Cause of the climate change
Solar Variation (Sunspots)
Although the temperature of the sunspot is lower than other parts of the sun, the outer layer of the sunspots releases huge ultraviolet rays and throws them on the Earth’s surface. The number of sunspots reaches a peak during 11 years of solar activities- it is called the solar maximum. In the last century, many sunspots have been identified on the sun simultaneously the Earth’s temperature increased. The sunspots and solar variations have raised the Earth’s temperature by about 0.1 degrees Celsius. The sun has been brighter than 100 years ago due to the solar cycle activities driven by the sunspots, as the Earth has been warmer.
2. Volcanic Eruptions

Volcanic eruptions mean emitting huge gas, flash, lava, rock, and dust from the planet’s surface. Volcano eruption is one of the most devastating natural disasters that change the environment of the disaster area. Therefore, it is another natural cause of climate change. The most adverse impact of the volcanic eruption is increasing the temperature of the Earth.  The lava emitted from volcanic eruptions can increase the surrounding area’s temperature by around 1200 degrees Celsius.

However, it emits a huge amount of flash and creates ash clouds in the sky. This ash cloud acts like a blanket in the sky that redirects the sun’s rays. The solar radiation goes back by reflecting on the ash cloud in the sky. The prolonged ash cloud reflects the solar radiation; therefore, the ground of the Earth gets colder. In sum, the volcano eruption is a natural disaster that causes climate change.

Volcanic Eruptions
Volcanic Eruptions

Does volcano eruption increase or decrease the Earth’s temperature?

Although the lava increases the surrounding area’s temperature, the ash cloud reflects the solar radiation that reduces the Earth’s temperature. So, the volcano eruption makes the planet colder and changes the climate.

3. Axial Tilt

According to Milankovitch Cycles, the Earth moves around the sun, and it takes 365 days to complete around the sun. Additionally, the sun takes 24 hours to complete the rotation. Axial tilt is a crucial natural cause of climate change that receives more and less solar radiation based on the position. Axial tilt refers to the Earth’s angle between the orbital plane and the equatorial plane during rotation. It is also known as obliquity that represents the Earth’s angle. Axial tilt makes different seasons in the same area of the planet.

According to the statistic reports, the Earth has been tilted 23.5 degrees perpendicular to the plane. The axial tilt differs 22.1 and 24.5 degrees from its orbital plane around the sun. The season of the Earth depends on the axial tilt; therefore, the more axial tilt angle, the greater seasons. The sun provides more solar radiation when the Earth’s hemisphere tilts towards the sun in the summer season. On the other hand, the Earth receives less solar radiation when the Earth tilted away from the sun’s orbital plane. According to Milankovitch (1930), it takes 41,000 years to complete the ice age cycle. So, the ice age comes back after every 41,000 years.

For example, now the Earth is tilted 23.45; therefore, the one hemisphere receives more solar radiation that creates extreme summer on the Earth; simultaneously, another hemisphere gets extreme winter. The axial tilt is reducing; therefore, the Earth gets extremely hot in summer and cold in the winter seasons. Based on the discussion, it is optimal to say that the axial tilt causes climate change on the Earth.

Milankovitch Cycles- Axial Tilt, Precession, Eccentricity
Milankovitch Cycles- Axial Tilt, Precession, Eccentricity.
4. Precession

Precession refers to the movement in the orientation of the rotational axis due to the gravitational force of the sun and moon. It is a type of movement that occurs when it starts to wobble and change the direction of the first axis. The Earth rotates once every day that takes 24 hours. However, it wobbles slightly roughly after every 19 to 24 thousand years.  If it’s leaning towards the Sun, it gets more heat. On the other hand, the Earth gets less heat if it leans away from the Sun. The Earth’s precession affects climate change; hence, precession is another natural cause of climate change.

5. Eccentricity
Eccentricity is also known as orbital eccentricity, describes how the Earth moves around the Sun. The Earth does not move the sun in the same circular motion. Orbital eccentricity measures the variation of the orbital path from a perfect circular shape. It is also known as the orbital parameter that controls the amount of solar radiation received by the Earth. The variation of the orbital path affects the gap between the sun and planet. It controls the lengths of the summer and winter seasons. According to statistic reports, the summer is approximately 4.5 days longer than winter due to the orbital eccentricity. It is all about the distance between the sun and Earth. The sun is positioned around 152.1 million kilometers from the Earth in summer, the farthest distance.
On the other hand, in the winter season, the distance between the sun and Earth is 147.1 million kilometers, also known as the closest distance. The Earth gets closer to the sun during the winter seasons in the northern hemisphere. NASA scientists have declared the current orbital eccentricity of Earth is e ≈ 0.01671. Now, the Earth orbits the sun in an elliptical motion shape. It is slowly reducing the cycle of the 100,000 years. The Earth gets warmer when it rotates around the sun in a circular orbit. In contrast, the Earth gets colder when its moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit or eye shape. The discussion proves that orbital eccentricity is a significant natural cause of climate change.
6. Continental Drift by Plate Tectonics

Continental drift refers to the slow movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, also known as the shifts in the Earth’s crust. There are seven continents on the Earth; however, the position of the continents is not fixed. Some continents are getting closer year by year; on the other hand; some are getting distant from each other. The movement is a prolonged process. The motion of the continental drift movement is around 0.6 cm to 10.5 cm per year. Hence, continental drift is the critical natural cause of climate change on the Earth.

The tectonic plates are the separated pieces of the Earth’s crust. The outer face of the crust is rocky and solid, and it differs into two types of materials, such as less-dense and the more-dense oceanic crust. These tectonic plates can move freely and cause Earthquakes and volcanoes on the Earth. Most ocean volcanoes and Earthquakes are the direct consequences of continental drift. The tectonic plate’s movement can be stipulated in four patterns: transform faulting, spreading, subduction, and collision.

For example, the collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates has extended the Himalayan Mountains range. Magma is created from the molten rock below the crust emits from volcano vents that change the climate. In sum, continental drift by plate tectonics is a natural cause of climate change.

7. Ocean Current

The ocean current is the natural cause of climate change on the Earth formed from the continuous movement of the ocean water. It is generated from the ocean wind, gravitation of the moon, breaking waves, temperature, and rotation of the Earth. The ocean current plays a crucial role in causing climate change by warming the Earth. Most solar radiation is absorbed by the ocean, although land areas receive some radiation. The land area returns some heat into space after sunset. However, the ocean retains solar radiation and finally spread them around the planet. The heat evaporates the ocean waters continuously, raising the temperature and humidity of surrounding areas on Earth. Finally, the evaporation process creates rain and storms that reduce the temperatures.

Ocean currents could rapidly freeze parts of North America. If the current system collapses, it will lead to dramatic changes in worldwide weather patterns. If this circulation shuts down, it could bring extreme cold to Europe and parts of North America.

8. Natural Forest Fire

Natural forest fire is a significant natural cause of climate change that increases the temperature of surrounding areas. There are two reasons for forest fires: natural causes forest fires and human causes of forest fires. Natural forest fire refers to the wildfire that burns a thousand acres of land, including trees and animals.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency report, 20 percent of forest fire occurs naturally; and around 80 percent of forest fire occurs from human activities.

Natural forest fires can spark from lightning and drought that set fire on trees. Usually, warm temperatures encourage setting the fire, and strong wind spread the fires surrounding areas rapidly.  Forest fire transforms green vegetation into the desert for a period of time.

Forest fires release huge greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and ashes. These gases trigger warming the atmosphere and destroy the soil nutrient.  Therefore, a natural forest fire is a significant natural cause of climate change.

9. Natural Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases refer to the gases that change the climate by trapping infrared radiation or heat in the atmosphere. GHG is the short form or abbreviation of greenhouse gases. There are two types of reasons for producing greenhouse gases: natural causes and human-induced causes to produce greenhouse gases. Natural greenhouses gases are produced naturally on the Earth without people’s activities. For example, permafrost is a frozen ground that contains and releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) naturally. 

The most common natural greenhouse gases on the Earth are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). The greenhouse gases assist the sunlight in hitting on the Earth’s surfaces and blocking the heat returning from the atmosphere. These natural gases prevent the heat released from the atmosphere from passing outward from the Earth’s surfaces. Natural greenhouse gases stimulate to raise the temperature in the atmosphere directly and indirectly. In essence, natural greenhouse gases warm the Earth’s atmosphere by trapping the heat. So, it is another natural cause of climate change that warms the atmosphere.

However, human activities produce some greenhouse gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs). There are two causes to generate greenhouse gases: natural causes and human causes of producing greenhouse gases. Human activities such as burning fossil fuels contribute to emitting greenhouse gases. People cut forests for agriculture that also cause global warming. Now, researchers and political leaders are working together to reduce human-induced causes of climate change. They create social awareness to avoid global warming. Social etiquette and social awareness among people can protect the environment from pollution. In a nutshell, greenhouse gases cause global warming and change the climate worldwide.


In conclusion, these nine natural causes of climate change (Solar Variation, Volcanic Eruptions, Axial Tilt, Precession, Eccentricity, Continental Drift, Ocean Current, Natural Forest Fires, and Natural Greenhouse Gases) contribute to change the climate globally. These factors are natural contributors to global warming, change the atmosphere and change the Earth’s environment directly and indirectly.

Citation For This Article (APA 7th Edition)
Kobiruzzaman, M. M. (2021, August 30). Cause of Climate Change- 9 Natural Causes of Climate Change in 2021. Newsmoor- Educational Website For Online Learning.

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