Climate Connections
Making Sense of Seasonal Observations

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Our climate is changing more rapidly than ever before. How might that affect the timing of seasonal events and the health and survival of living things? Read on . . .


It's important to understand the difference between weather and climate in order to understand the idea of climate change.

Photo: World Meteorological Org.

Weather or Climate?

It's important to understand the difference between weather and climate in order to understand the idea of climate change. These words don't mean the same thing, but many people think they do.

Weather

Weather is the state of the atmosphere at a given time. It is what’s happening outside your window today, last week, or even next year. You check the weather (e.g., wind, rain, temperature) to decide what to wear for the day.

Climate
Climate refers to the average weather patterns in a region over long periods of time (decades or more).
Climate describes the weather we usually expect where we live during a particular season. Seattle has a mild rainy climate. Miami has a hot, humid climate. Arizona has a dry climate. Vermont has cold snowy winters and mild summers. Weather varies — even from year to year — but climate does not.

Next: How Is Seasonal Change Linked to Climate? >>


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