One of the most intriguing facets of the climate system is that it exhibits variability across all temporal and spatial scales; pronounced examples are temperature and precipitation. The structure of this variability, however, is not arbitrary. Over certain spatial and temporal ranges, it can be described by scaling relationships in the form of power laws in probability density distributions and autocorrelation functions. These scaling relationships can be quantified by scaling exponents which measure how the variability changes across scales and how the intensity changes with frequency of occurrence. Scaling determines the relative magnitudes and persistence of natural climate fluctuations. Here, we review various scaling mechanisms and their relevance for the climate system. We show observational evidence of scaling and discuss the application of scaling properties and methods in trend detection, climate sensitivity analyses, and climate prediction.