Over historic time spans there are a number of static variables that determine climate, including: latitude, altitude, proportion of land to water,and proximity to oceans and mountains. Other climate determinants are more dynamic: The thermohaline circulation of the ocean distributes heat energy between the equatorial and polar regions; other ocean currents do the same between land and water on a more regional scale.
Degree of vegetation coverage affects solar heat absorption, water retention, and rainfall on a regional level. Alteration in the quantity of atmospheric greenhouse gases determines the amount of solar energy retained by the planet, leading to global warming or global cooling. The variables which determine climate are numerous and the interactions complex, but there is general agreement that the broad outlines are understood, at least in so far as the determinants of historical climate change are concerned.