You must have heard the word ‘climate’ being used all around you. Newspapers these days are full of news about Climate Change. A lot of things in our lives depend upon the climate. The farmer plans his harvest after observing the climate. We plan our vacations according to the climate. But what is climate change? Why is it so important? Let’s find out!
What is Weather?
Before we can understand what climate is, we must first understand what weather is. You must have seen how it starts raining on sunny days. It would stop raining after a while and become sunny again. The next day it would be cloudy. This day-to-day atmospheric condition of a particular place is known as weather. Any change in the atmospheric condition over a short period of time is a change in weather.
The weather of a location is not fixed. It is chaotic and changes quickly. It has various parts such as temperature, humidity, wind speed etc.
What is Climate?
Even though the temperature and the humidity may change every day, you are aware how over a long period of time, the weather usually follows a fixed pattern. The average weather pattern of a particular area taken over a long period of time is known as climate. People studying climate generally take this period of time as 25 years.
India has a hot and humid climate. This is so because the temperature is high for most of the year. The humidity is also very high. Thus, the average weather pattern of India is that it is usually hot and humid.
Similarly, Rajasthan has a hot and dry climate. Although it is very hot, the humidity is very low for most of the year. You will now see how the climate of a location is determined.
What are the factors that determine climate change?
The climate of a place changes when the atmospheric conditions of that area change. However, this does not just refer to immediate and temporary changes. These changes matter when they occur over tens of years. These are the factors that affect it:
- Height Above The Sea Level: It changes as our elevation from the sea level changes. For every 165 meter increase in elevation, the temperature decreases by 1° Celsius. This is known as the normal lapse rate.
- Distance From The Sea: The distance of an area from the sea determines the type of climate it will have. Areas closer to the sea are cooler and wetter than an area that is far from the sea.
- Ocean Currents: An ocean current is the continuous movement of ocean water from one place to another. They either transfer heat energy from the land to the sea, making the land cooler or from the sea to the land, making the land cooler.
- Topography: Topography refers to the physical feature of an area, for example, the shape of the landform. The topography of a place influences the changes in its temperature.
- Winds: The direction of the wind and the speed of wind determine the climate of the place. Winds blowing from humid areas could bring a drop in temperature and vice versa.
- Human Interference: All the above were natural factors, however, as humans live in an area, they continue to exploit its resources. Human beings often cause climate change artificially, through activities like deforestation, pollution etc. These activities harm nature and can change the climate in negative ways.
Why is Climate Important?
The climate of a particular area will determine what sort of clothes you wear, what type of a house you build. For a farmer, it will determine which crops to grow, and how to plan his harvest. It even affects your behavior and your activities! If you live in a warmer place, it makes you more likely to play outside than a person who lives in a cooler place.
What is the difference between Weather and Climate?
Weather and climate are two different things, however, in day-to-day usage, we often interchange the two.
- Weather is a short-term measurement of the atmospheric conditions, whereas we take climate over a much longer period of time.
- While the weather may change every day, the climate of a place stays fixed for decades.
- The study of climate is called climatology. The study of weather is called meteorology.
- 800 million years ago, the entire earth was covered in ice! Even currently we are in a period known as “ice age”.
- Hurricanes and droughts are two natural disasters that are caused due to climatic changes.
- Global warming is also a form of climate change.
- Atmosphere: The thick envelope of air surrounding the earth is called the atmosphere.
- Weather: Weather refers to the day-to-day atmospheric condition of a particular area.
- Climate: The average weather pattern of a particular area taken over a long period of time, at least 25 years, is known as climate.
Question For You
Q: Which of the following instruments is used to measure rainfall?
- All of the above
Ans: The correct answer is option “c”. Rainguage measures rainfall in millimeters.