Differences Between Climate & Weather

Weather describes the hourly or daily conditions that people experience outside on any particular day.  Climate is the description of the average daily weather over an extended period of time.

Weather is typically measured over a period of days or weeks, while climate can be defined as the average weather for a particular region over a 20-30 year period.

Weather is….

  • Air temperature
  • Cloud cover
  • Precipitation
  • Wind
  • Humidity
  • Air pressure
                       …at any particular time in any particular place.

Climate is…..

  • The average of these weather ingredients over many years.
  • The overall picture of weather during periods of seasons or years.
  • Shown to have changed throughout the history of the Earth, based on historic records.

Weather can be highly variable and can change from minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season.  People expect the weather to change and experience those changes daily. It’s harder to see how climate is changing because climate is measured over many years rather than as single events.

Video: From Dog Walking to Weather and Climate

Credit: Siffer, produced by TeddyTV for NRK. Animation by Ole Christoffer Haga

"In this animated short, the relationship between trend and variation are explained with an excellent analogy to a man walking his dog. There is much more variation in the path that the dog takes as compared with the man, but they are both headed the same way. Similarly, weather can be highly variable and climate means long term trends."

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Page Updated on March 7, 2016