What's the difference between climate and weather? Answer: Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get. They're not the same thing. Climate is the statistical accumulation of weather data for a particular region or city. Only weather trends that play out over long periods of time (some say 30 years) can indicate a climate trend. Climate tends to be what you think of when you describe a place - rainy Seattle, humid Miami, snowy Vermont. You expect to be able to ice-fish in Minnesota in January, for instance.
Weather is what's happening outside today, this week, next week - a short period of time. Weather measures shortterm changes in the atmosphere. As anyone caught in a thunderstorm or blizzard knows, weather can change minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.
Climate is in the news because what we've come to expect is a lot different from what we'd come to experience, at least in some cases. Remember hearing about golfers in Michigan hitting the links in January 2007? Ice-fishing tournaments in Minnesota were canceled that January because of too-thin ice, while daffodils bloomed at New Year's in Washington, D.C., due to unseasonably warm weather. (See: www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/2007-01-04-warm-weather_x.htm)
You may notice flowers blooming earlier in spring or that winter weather is warmer than when you were small child. An earlier springtime is indicative of a possible change in climate, according to NASA. In the past century, global temperatures have been rising faster than historically.
While no single weather event can be tied definitively to the changing climate, it is not incorrect to read certain weather events of harbingers of things to come.
For more info:
* Extreme Weather is Sign of Global Warming: www.thedailygreen.com/2007/08/08/un-extreme-weather-is-sign-of-global-warming/4915/
* What is Climate and Climate Change?: http://eo.ucar.edu/basics/cc_1.html
* NASA's take on the question: /www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html
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