Weather and climate are two terms that people often use interchangeable. But just because they use the same elements (temperature, wind speed, cloudiness, solar radiation etc) it doesn’t mean that they are the same thing. They do differ and important to know their difference when trying to interpret the large-scale global climate changes.
So, what’s the difference?
The difference between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ lies in duration. Simply said, weather is used when referring to the a short-period of time while climate is the atmosphere’s condition over long periods of time. For example, we know that Seattle’s climate is oceanic, with cool winters and dry summers. This calls for a March average temperature of 40 °F (4 °C) to 55 °F (13 °C), 42% of the days will be sunny, while we expect 17 days of rain with 3.9 in (98 mm) total rain precipitation. This is the typical conditions you will find in Seattle during March. But for a particular year, the days in Seattle may differ from the average; perhaps the temperature will be higher, with more sunny days and less rain. In fact, an easy way to remember the difference between the two is that climate is what you expect to have, while weather is what you actually get. You may expect a very hot summer as the climate of an area dictates but you may get a hot day with thunderstorms. (the article continues after the ad)
The problem with climate change is the fact that, as the name suggests, the climate is changing and not just the weather conditions for a short period of time. The increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are changing the global climate patterns for the long-term and that’s why they are called ‘climate change’ and not ‘weather change’. In other words, with climate change our expectations for the conditions we will meet in New York in December will differ from what we now know. And that’s pretty devastating for our planet.
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Sources: What is the difference between weather and climate? | NASA – What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate? | Seattle Weather in March