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Do you know the difference between weather and climate?


Header image: Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Have you heard people talking about global warming in the news, and then looked outside and saw a snowstorm? If things are supposed to be warming, why is it so cold?

The answer is the difference between weather and climate.

What is weather?

Weather: what's happening to the atmosphere over a short period of time.

People running from rain

Running from the rain in New York City. (Don Emmert/Getty Images)

Look outside right now. Is it sunny? Cloudy? Windy? Is it about to rain or snow?

These conditions are considered weather — something that is happening minute-to-minute, or day-to-day. 

Scientists who study weather patterns are called meteorologists. Predicting the weather is an important job because it can help people prepare for destructive weather that’s coming — like tornados or hurricanes.

What is climate?

Climate: what's happening to the atmosphere in a specific place over a long period of time (30 years or more).

A dried up river under a bridge

A dry part of a river in France due to drought. (Loic Venance /Getty Images)

We know some areas in the world generally get a certain amount of rainfall in the summer, or other places in the world are usually hot or usually cold.

When you measure a weather pattern over a period of time to determine the average, that’s climate.

Scientists who study climate are called climatologists. Studying climate is an important job because it helps to figure out why weather patterns are changing, and how we may be able to stop or slow down activities that are causing global warming.