Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do You Know The Difference Between Weather And Climate?

By Andreas Sosadi

What's the difference between weather and climate? And why is it important to you?

You may not think about it, but weather and climate have a huge bearing on how we live. Here is an overview of how weather and climate work.

We humans want to understand how the world works. We have always watched weather conditions, the day-to-day temperature, pressure and precipitation changes. As we compared those conditions over long periods of time (that is, more than 30 years), we establish the climate, the average conditions for that region: temperature, pressure, precipitation, amount of sunshine and cloud, wind speed and direction etc.

Many countries have weather data up to 200 years old. That may sound like a lot, but it is really miniscule when we realize that climate changes may take place over thousands of years. However, by studying such information, we now know a lot more about weather and climate.

In order to understand the data that has been collected over the years, it is important to classify it. For example, we now have established global climate zones. These are bands circling the globe based on latitude. These zones are: the Polar Regions, the high altitudes, Artic and Antarctic Circles, the middle latitudes, the low latitudes and the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer.

Each zone has its own particular conditions, including seasonal activity and precipitation. For example, the Polar Regions have long, cold winters and summers that are only slightly warmer. However, the middle latitudes have four seasons with varying temperatures. The low latitudes are humid because they get a lot of rainfall and a lot of the sun's heat.

Each of these zones has variations within it. There may be continental and maritime regions depending on the land masses within the zones. Continental regions are those with large land masses, while maritime regions are those with large bodies of water. Such conditions affect whether a region is hotter or colder, wetter or drier than surrounding areas.

While these classifications help explain and predict weather, other factors must be taken into account. Mountains, as an example, can greatly affect weather patterns. Also, a natural catastrophe such as a volcanic eruption can change a region's climate for years to come.

By studying these classifications, we not only can predict weather, but we can also understand how to invent things to make our lives easier. By understanding wind, we were able to invent the vacuum cleaner. By understanding the electricity in storms, we were able to harness electricity for lighting and other uses.

When you stop to think about it, weather and climate are probably the most important factors in our world. Wouldn't it be wise to learn more about these subjects and understand how our world works?

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