Global Warming: Climate and Weather

Weather is all around us. Weather may be one of the first things you notice after you wake up. Chances are, if it is cold and snowing, you'll wear a jacket when you go outside. If it's hot and sunny, you may wear shorts. Sounds pretty simple, right? But what about climate? How is it different from weather? And what is weather, exactly?

Weather describes whatever is happening outdoors in a given place at a given time. Weather is what happens from minute to minute. The weather can change a lot within a very short time. For example, it may rain for an hour and then become sunny and clear. Weather is what we hear about on the television news every night. Weather includes daily changes in precipitation, barometric pressure, temperature, and wind conditions in a given location. What is your weather like today?

Climate describes the total of all weather occurring over a period of years in a given place. This includes average weather conditions, regular weather sequences (like winter, spring, summer, and fall), and special weather events (like tornadoes and floods). Climate tells us what it's usually like in the place where you live. San Diego is known as having a mild climate, New Orleans a humid climate, Buffalo a snowy climate, and Seattle a rainy climate. How would you describe the climate where you live?

More on Global Warming & Environmental Science

Information provided by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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