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What is the Difference Between Weather and Climate?

Let’s take a look at the difference between weather and climate. You might recall that from time to time the elders at home say how summers at your hometown never used to be as hot as they are these days, or that, the monsoons were not stretched and always adhered to fixed months. Well! They are only talking about the climate and the changes that have come about due to various natural and man-made factors.

On the other hand, imagine during winters if it suddenly starts raining, or during summers there is a hail storm, you would not term that as climate would you?  This change in the daily pattern is part of the weather and not the climate.

Therefore, as to the difference between weather and climate, we could say that while the weather is the day to day or short-term change in the condition of the atmosphere, climate is a term used for the weather condition over a period of time in a given particular location.

Let’s discuss the weather a little more!

Weather-forecast

Image Credits: The Weather Forecast

As illustrated above, an out of the blue downpour on a hot summer afternoon would be the perfect example of what ‘weather’ is. The difference in the air pressure is what majorly affects the weather of that place. You could also attribute the changes in air pressure and temperature to the angle of the sun at that particular place. Thus, weather can be taken as an aggregation of the humidity, the precipitation, the cloudiness, wind and visibility factors, pressure and temperature of that particular place.

Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, hail storms and cloudbursts are all included in the ambit of weather. These weather disturbances do not take place regularly. Since they happen rarely and over a short period of time, they are considered an anomaly in the weather pattern. It must be noted that the weather phenomena take place in the troposphere which is the lowest level of the atmosphere.

Weather is made up of many different components. According to NASA – Weather includes sunshine, rain, cloud cover, winds, hail, snow, sleet, freezing rain, flooding, blizzards, ice storms, thunderstorms, steady rains from a cold front or warm front, excessive heat, heat waves and more.

What is Climate?

Climate is the average taken of the weather of a particular place over a period of say 30 years. The reason as to why climate is assessed over a period of time is because weather tends to get influenced in shorter durations. Climate maps the statistical information on weather over time. It takes into account the normal weather as well as the extremities from time to time for a particular location.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

As mentioned in the section above, there are many factors that affect the weather. The average of such factors is mapped over a specific duration to determine the climate for a particular location. Therefore factors such as sunshine, humidity, precipitation, wind velocity and even conditions such as hail storm, fog etc. are looked into when the climate is assessed.

The difference between weather and climate – forecasting and prediction

While determining the future with respect to weather, the act is known as forecasting, whereas, in terms of climate, it is known as a prediction.

For forecasters, their job is to look into several questions such as – how hot will it be tomorrow? What will be the average rise or dip in temperature? Is there a chance of rainfall? How much will it rain? Is there a possibility of a thunderstorm? How much humidity is predicted? So on and so forth. The forecasting is generally short-term and limited to a week ahead.

Weather forecasting is based on a few standardized models that take into account the daily observations of temperature, humidity, air pressure, the condition of the atmosphere etc. After looking into all these factors against the given model, the weather forecaster gives an output about the weather of the coming day or days. Weather forecasting is not 100% accurate; it depends on the models used and the skill of the forecaster.  Most weather forecasts are based on models, which incorporate observations of air pressure, temperature, humidity and winds to produce the best estimate of current and future conditions in the atmosphere.

At times the forecaster may have to look into predicting the weather for the whole season. In such situations, they have to take into account larger climatic changes around the world that may directly or indirectly affect the weather of their location for that season.

Coming to climate, predictions for climate take a long-term view of things. The time frame they usually look at predicting for is 50 to about 100 years. So questions such as will the ice caps melt in the next 50 years? How much warmer will the Earth’s temperature be in the next 100 years? What will be the rise in sea level? And so on.
Climate predictions use global climate models to make their predictions.

Table of difference between Weather and Climate

  Weather Climate
Definition Weather reflects the short-term changes in the atmosphere Climate is the average daily weather for an extended period of time for a particular location
Components Sunshine, temperature, rainfall, snow, thunderstorms, heat wave, cloud cover, excessive cold. Weather anomalies such as tornadoes and hurricane etc. Climate maps the factors that affect weather such as wind, pressure, temperature, precipitation, fog etc. over a long period of time.
Forecast Done on a day to day basis based on factors such as temperature, pressure etc. Prediction regarding the climate takes a long-term view and the weather is studied for at least 30 years before giving any conclusive prediction for a certain area.
Determined by Measuring the temperature, wind speed, humidity, precipitation etc.. Studying factors that affect the weather for over a period of 30 years.
Study Meteorology Climatology

Read more on this interesting topic here!

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