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Difference between weather and climate

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From The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs


Weather radar

What is the difference between weather and climate? Weather is what the forecasters on the TV news predict each day. They tell people about the temperature, cloudiness, humidity, and whether a storm is likely in the next few days.

Weather is the mix of events that happens each day in our atmosphere. Weather is not the same everywhere. It may be hot and sunny in one part of the world, but freezing and snowy in another.

Climate is the average weather in a place over many years.

While the weather can change in just a few hours, climate takes hundreds, even thousands of years to change.

Explanation by Neil deGrasse Tyson

From Neil deGrasse Tyson ShowsWeather Is Not Climate With One Very Simple Demonstration, The Huffington Post, Sarah Barness


“Weather is what the atmosphere does in the short-term, hour-to-hour, day-to-day,” the “Cosmos” host explains in the clip above. “Weather is chaotic, which means that even a microscopic disturbance can lead to large scale changes. That’s why those 10-day weather forecasts are useless … Climate is the long-term average of the weather over a number of years. It’s shaped by global forces that alter the energy balance in the atmosphere, such as changes in the sun, tilt of the Earth’s axis, the amount of sunlight the Earth reflects back into space and the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the air.”

Weather Versus Climate Change | Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (YouTube)

[In this video] Tyson compares weather to the irregular, sporadic pattern of his dog. Though it’s difficult to predict where the dog is going, we can know the range of his meandering because he’s on a leash. Conversely, Tyson’s straight path is like the climate, which is broadly predictable by observing long-term changes in global forces. Both man and dog have their own patterns, but both are going in the same direction.



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