It is a common misconception that there is no difference between climate and weather and that the terms are interchangeable. In actual fact, climate and weather are not the same, and each refers to something completely different.
The key difference between climate and weather is duration, and while they are linked, they are certainly not the same thing. It is essential to understand what weather is, what climate is, and how they differ from one another.
When we talk about the weather, we are talking about the condition of the atmosphere over a short timeframe. Usually, we refer to weather as a period such as day to day or week to week, and the term weather could mean various different aspects such as humidity, air temperature, wind speed and direction, cloud type and precipitation.
The sun is responsible for the weather in any given location, as the sun’s rays will be absorbed differently by land and by water surfaces. These changes in warming will cause variations in the temperature and pressure of air masses and create different types of weather.
The climate of an area refers to a long period of time and the average weather for this. For example, if an area has a large number of hot days compared with cold days, then it will be known as having a hot climate.
The period of time used to determine the climate of a place is often very large, such as 30 years, and the information given for a climate will include statistical weather information as well as a range of extreme weather conditions.
The difference between climate and weather is the length of time that is looked at. When we talk about climate, we look at periods of years, decades and centuries, and the weather that occurred over this time. When we are looking at the weather, we are looking at a period of days or weeks.
A weather forecaster will be trying to answer questions such as will it rain tomorrow? Or what will the temperature be next week? Climate predictions will have a much longer-term view, such as how much warmer will a country be in 50 years?
You will find below a selection of useful information sites and resources
BBC Weather - The BBC Weather Centre provides UK and Worldwide weather services and maps for temperature, wind, satellite, pressure and radar.
Met Office - Weather and climate change
Climate Change - Climate change is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years.
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