Climate and Weather. Aren’t they the same thing? Actually they are quite different. So you must want to know what is the difference between Climate and Weather?
What's the Difference Between Weather and Climate?
The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time.
When we talk about climate change, we talk about changes in long-term averages of daily weather. Today, children always hear stories from their parents and grandparents about how snow was always piled up to their waists as they trudged off to school. Children today in most areas of the country haven't experienced those kinds of dreadful snow-packed winters, except for the Northeastern U.S. in January 2005. The change in recent winter snows indicate that the climate has changed since their parents were young.
In addition to long-term climate change, there are shorter term climate variations. This so-called climate variability can be represented by periodic or intermittent changes related to El Niño, La Niña, volcanic eruptions, or other changes in the Earth system.
What Weather Means
Weather is basically the way the atmosphere is behaving, mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities. The difference between weather and climate is that weather consists of the short-term (minutes to months) changes in the atmosphere. Most people think of weather in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure, as in high and low pressure.
In most places, weather can change from minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season. Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space. An easy way to remember the difference is that climate is what you expect, like a very hot summer, and weather is what you get, like a hot day with pop-up thunderstorms.
What Climate Means
In short, climate is the description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area.
Some scientists define climate as the average weather for a particular region and time period, usually taken over 30-years. It's really an average pattern of weather for a particular region.
When scientists talk about climate, they're looking at averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind velocity, phenomena such as fog, frost, and hail storms, and other measures of the weather that occur over a long period in a particular place.
For example, after looking at rain gauge data, lake and reservoir levels, and satellite data, scientists can tell if during a summer, an area was drier than average. If it continues to be drier than normal over the course of many summers, than it would likely indicate a change in the climate.
Why Study Climate?
The reason studying climate and a changing climate is important, is that will affect people around the world. Rising global temperatures are expected to raise sea levels, and change precipitation and other local climate conditions. Changing regional climate could alter forests, crop yields, and water supplies. It could also affect human health, animals, and many types of ecosystems. Deserts may expand into existing rangelands, and features of some of our National Parks and National Forests may be permanently altered.
What do you know about thunderstorms? I have some information about them that you may have never known. For example, did you know that there are different types of lightning?
Heavy rain, dark black clouds and lightning are evidence of a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are not nearly as large or as strong as hurricanes, but they can be damaging, particularly if large hailstones fall out from their clouds. Thunderclouds are known scientifically as cumulonimbus clouds.
Thunderstorms are more common in summer because they need a lot of energy to form. The energy comes from the heating of the ground and the surface air by the Sun. If this heating is strong enough, air heated near the ground will rise up a long way into the atmosphere because it is lighter than air around it, a bit like a hot air balloon. Warmer air is lighter than colder air. As the air rises up it becomes colder. Moisture in the air begins to condense out as clouds, in the same way as fog forms on a calm cool night. In thunderclouds however, the energy is much greater, and the currents of air are strong enough to split apart the raindrops that are forming. This builds up an electric charge, which when released is seen as lightning. The sound of thunder is effect of the lightning strike on the surrounding air.
When the rain or hail begins to fall from a thundercloud, it is usually very heavy, but generally lasts for no more than 30 minutes. Sometimes however, the death of one thunderstorm may lead to the development of another, and the bad weather may continue for several hours.
What is Lightning?
To put it simply, lightning is electricity. It forms in the strong up-and-down air currents inside tall dark cumulonimbus clouds as water droplets, hail, and ice crystals collide with one another. Scientists believe that these collisions build up charges of electricity in a cloud. The positive and negative electrical charges in the cloud separate from one another, the negative charges dropping to the lower part of the cloud and the positive charges staying ins the middle and upper parts. Positive electrical charges also build upon the ground below. When the difference in the charges becomes large enough, a flow of electricity moves from the cloud down to the ground or from one part of the cloud to another, or from one cloud to another cloud. In typical lightning these are down-flowing negative charges, and when the positive charges on the ground leap upward to meet them, the jagged downward path of the negative charges suddenly lights up with a brilliant flash of light. Because of this, our eyes fool us into thinking that the lightning bolt shoots down from the cloud, when in fact the lightning travels up from the ground. In some cases, positive charges come to the ground from severe thunderstorms or from the anvil at the very top of a thunderstorm cloud. The whole process takes less than a millionth of a second.
Kinds of Lightning
There are words to describe different kinds of lightning. Here are some of them:
1) In-Cloud Lightning: The most common type, it travels between positive and negative charge centers within the thunderstorm.
2) Cloud-to-Ground Lightning: This is lightning that reaches from a thunderstorm cloud to the ground.
3) Cloud-to-Cloud Lightning: A rare event, it is lightning that travels from one cloud to another.
4) Sheet Lightning: This is lightning within a cloud that lights up the cloud like a sheet of light.
5) Ribbon Lightning: This is when a cloud-to-ground flash is blown sideways by the wind, making it appear as two identical bolts side by side. 6) Bead Lightning: Also called "chain lightning," this is when the lightning bolt appears to be broken into fragments because of varying brightness or because parts of the bolt are covered by clouds.
7)Ball Lightning: Rarely seen, this is lightning in the form of a grapefruit-sized ball, which lasts only a few seconds.
8)Bolt from the blue: A lightning bolt from a distant thunderstorm, seeming to come out of the clear blue sky, but really from the top or edge of a thunderstorm a few miles away.
What Puts the Thunder in the Thunderstorm?
Lightning bolts are extremely hot, with temperatures of 30,000 to 50,000 degrees F. That's hotter than the surface of the sun! When the bolt suddenly heats the air around it to such an extreme, the air instantly expands, sending out a vibration or shock wave we hear as an explosion of sound. This is thunder. If you are near the stroke of lightning you’ll hear thunder as one sharp crack. When lightning is far away, thunder sounds more like a low rumble as the sound waves reflect and echo off hillsides, buildings and trees. Depending on wind direction and temperature, you may hear thunder for up to fifteen or twenty miles. Thunder is only a noise and is nothing to be afraid of. But lightning can be dangerous. Head to the next page to find out how to stay safe from it.
~Weather brought to you by Science Through the Eyes of Jazzyfizzle