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Climate, Weather, and Climate Change: Home

Introduction

"When 'the heavens balance their volt accounts'." A thunderstorm over Lake Balaton.What is the difference between 'weather' and 'climate?' The U.S. government explains:

"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.

If summers seem hotter lately, then the recent climate may have changed. In various parts of the world, some people have even noticed that springtime comes earlier now than it did 30 years ago. An earlier springtime is indicative of a possible change in the climate.

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."

More information is provided on this topic from NASA.

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Image Credits

"When 'the heavens balance their volt accounts'." A thunderstorm over Lake Balaton. Photographed by Dr. A. Rethly. From the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) collection.