At several points in the preceding discussion, we have needed to make reference to the thermal response time of the system. In the present section, we shall make this notion precise. The heat storage in the planet's solid or liquid surface, and in its atmosphere means that it takes time for the system to heat up or cool down. The strength of this effect, known as thermal inertia, determines the extent to which the seasonal and diurnal fluctuations are averaged out in the climate response.
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