Weather vs. Climate: Telling the Difference

It’s summertime, and the sun is shining brighter than ever before. Early in the morning, where the clouds are like cotton candies in the clear blue sky, a man and his friends pack their bags, ready their binoculars, and are excited about their first birding activity. It’s indeed a perfect time for them to have an adventure in the forests because the weather is good.

From day-to-day, we hear about weather and climate over the news or weather forecast, and we even check on it to help us decide and plan for our activities and even the clothes to wear or food to eat. These two natural phenomena are essential to life on Earth. 

There are sometimes strange occurrences of drastic climate change; it is also a debated topic globally. Some people still have so much confusion over the difference between the two.

Think about it this way: Climate is expected; for example, you expect a particular climate at a specific time of the year (summer, winter, spring, or fall); weather, on the other hand, is changing from time to time, day-to-day, and season-to-season.

Weather is what you see outside on any day. In the scenario above, the weather is defined by the clouds and sky, while climate refers to the summertime as an expected season. The weather could be 75° degrees and sunny, or 20° degrees with heavy snow.

What Weather Means

Weather is the atmosphere’s behavior concerning its effects upon life and people’s activities. The weather consists of short-term changes in the atmosphere, and sometimes it is abrupt. Most people associate weather with humidity, temperature, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure.

clouds, raindrops

Things That Make Up Our Weather

Weather comprises many factors like sunshine, clouds, rain, snow, winds, flooding, blizzards, ice storms, thunderstorms, a cold or warm front, excessive heat, heat waves, etc.

That is why we have official weather forecasters to help make us aware of and prepare for extreme weather forecast dangers. The leading national forecasting outlet for the weather is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS), which has over 25 different warnings, statements, or watches.

Some of the reports NWS issues include Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Warnings, Flash Flood Watches and Warnings, Dense Fog Advisory, Blizzard Warnings, Snow Advisories, Winter Storm Watches, and Warnings, Fire Weather Watch, Watches and Warnings about Tornadoes, Hurricane Watches and Warnings. They also give Special Weather Statements and Short- and Long-Term Forecasts.

What Climate Means

Meanwhile, climate refers to the average of the weather. It describes what the weather would be like over an extended time in a specific area. Climate may vary from region to region. Describing a particular place’s climate includes the temperatures from one season to another, the wind’s intensity, and rain or snowfall.

The record of climate also includes extreme values like record high temperatures or record amounts of rainfall. So, if a news anchor on the TV says, “today we hit a record high,” that local weather forecaster refers to a climate record.

So, climate change refers to the difference in the long-term averages of daily weather. When scientists talk about climate, they look into averages of temperature, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, wind velocity, weather phenomena such as fog, frost, hailstorms, and other weather measures that occur over a long period in a particular place.

Once data are gathered from satellite, lake, reservoir levels, and rain gauge data, scientists can tell if a region was drier than its average during summer or wetter than the average rainfall it receives annually.

Köppen–Geiger climate map

Why Study Climate?

The importance of understanding climate and climate change is that it will affect people all around the world. Sea levels are predicted to rise due to rising global temperatures and changes in precipitation, and other localized climate factors. Forests, agriculture crops, and water supply could all be affected by a changing area climate.

It may also have an impact on human health, wildlife, and a variety of ecosystems. Deserts may grow into existing rangelands, irreversibly altering the nature of several of our National Parks and Forests.

A top scientific organization in the United States, the National Academy of Sciences, estimated that the Earth’s surface temperature has risen by around one degree Fahrenheit over the last century, with rapid warming in the last two decades. There is fresh and more significant evidence that human activities are to blame for most of the warming during the last 50 years. However, the importance of natural processes and cycles is still a point of contention.

The buildup of greenhouse gases – chiefly methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide – has changed the atmosphere’s chemical makeup as a result of human activity. The fact that these gases trap heat is undeniable, albeit there are questions regarding how the Earth’s climate reacts to them.

According to the United States Climate Change Science Program, factors including land-use change, aerosols, and others may play a role in climate change, although their impact is still unknown.

Who Conducts Research on Climate Change?

Thomas Jefferson pioneered modern climate prediction in the late 1700s, and it is still studied worldwide today.

The United States Global Change Research Program manages the world’s largest climate change research operation at the national level. Furthermore, NOAA, NASA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other federal agencies are aggressively engaging the states, business sector, states, and communities in win-win partnerships to address the crisis of global warming while also growing the economy. Many academic and private scientists also study climate change.

Weather Instruments

weather-instruments-on-a-field

A weather station needs various weather instruments to accurately measure atmospheric conditions and provide reliable weather forecasts for weather and climate.

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Ambient Weather WS-M0921THB 8" Cherry Finish Tan Dial Traditional Barometer with Temperature and Humidity
DOQAUS Indoor Outdoor Thermometer Wireless Digital Hygrometer Temperature and Humidity
AcuRite Wireless Digital Rain Gauge with Self-Emptying Collector

Here are some weather instruments that are essential in forecasting the weather.

  • Barometer – measures atmospheric pressure
  • Thermometer – measures sea surface and air temperature
  • Rain Gauge – measures precipitation amount
  • Wind vane – shows wind direction
  • Hygrometer – measures humidity
  • Anemometer – measures wind speed

Besides the weather forecast you receive from the local forecasters, you can also set up your weather station at home or purchase a personal weather station not to be dependent on a single source of the weather forecast, especially when you have upcoming outdoor activities like stargazing or astrophotography.