What is the Difference Between Weather and Climate?

By Joseph Kiprop on June 6 2017 in Environment

The difference between weather and climate can sometimes be a difficult topic to grasp.

What is the Difference Between Weather and Climate?

Weather and climate are two atmospheric conditions whose definitions and distinctions confuse many people around the world. Numerous individuals who use the two terms interchangeably find the existence of climate change hard to believe because of the ever-changing weather. Climate and weather have some similarities including the fact that they are both defined by solar energy. However, weather and climate are two distinct terms and have separate characteristics.


Weather is defined as the day-to-day fluctuation of temperature and precipitation associated with activities in the troposphere. Weather can also be defined as the degree of temperature, the amount of moisture, and the cloud cover of the atmosphere. The study of weather is known as meteorology. On the other hand, the climate is defined as the long-term assessment of the variation of humidity, wind, precipitation, temperature, and the atmospheric pressure of an area. Climate assessment is usually done in 30 year intervals and the study is known as climatology. Climate can also be defined as the long-term mean of weather patterns over an extended period of time. The climate of a location is attributed to five components of the climate system which are comprised of the hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.

Determining Factors

Weather conditions can change drastically since they are based on several variables which occur independently. Variables include atmospheric pressure, temperature, cloud cover, humidity, and speed and direction of the wind. Weather conditions can also be affected by terrestrial factors such as the presence of forests or large water bodies. Climate is more stable as it is a long-term analysis of weather patterns over a large region. Climatic conditions are affected by the latitude and altitude of an area, the area’s proximity to a large water body as well as the orientation of mountains towards ocean currents.

Forecasting of Climate Versus Weather

Climatic conditions are less volatile making forecasts on an area's climate easy and accurate. It usually takes many years for the climate of an area to completely change. Weather conditions, on the other hand, are extremely volatile and can change moment to moment. This chaotic attribute makes it difficult to accurately forecast weather conditions of a particular area. However, meteorologists give short-term forecasts of the weather by analyzing the changes in barometric pressure as well as the degree of cloud cover in an area.

Effect of Human Activity on Weather and Climate

For many years, weather and climate have been a defining factor on the type of human activity in an area. However, in recent years, human activity has altered weather patterns and caused climate change. Smog is formed from vehicle emissions which affects air visibility causing widespread air pollution. Industrial emissions release acidic fumes which react with moisture in the atmosphere to form acid rain. The long-term emissions of greenhouse gasses can be attributed to climate change. By shrouding the atmosphere, greenhouse gases are formed which increase atmospheric temperature and contribute to global warming.

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