Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It can be a change in the average weather or a change in the distribution of weather events around an average (for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole Earth.
In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate (see global warming). For information on temperature measurements over various periods, and the data sources available, see temperature record. For attribution of climate change over the past century, see attribution of recent climate change.