Weather

Weather is concerned with the short-term (minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and month-to-month) conditions of the atmosphere.

 

We describe the components of weather as sunshine, rain, cloud, wind, hail, snow, sleet, thunderstorms, etc. Each day when you wake up, before you start your daily routine, you will probably look out of the window and check the forecast for the day.

“Will it be hot today? Shall I wear sunglasses?” “Is a storm going to hit?”

This is all the more likely in the UK where the weather is less stable than other parts of the world. Prolonged weather conditions (over a week, a season or a year) may lead to local flooding or drought and a hose-pipe ban.

 

Meteorology is the study of the weather processes and forecasting. It is based on numerous widespread measurements collected from rain gauges (indicating recent precipitation), thermometers (for temperature), anemometers (for wind speed), weather vanes (for wind direction), barometers (for air pressure) and hygrometers (for humidity), as well as data from satellites. Measurements collected over a region, together with observations on a continental scale, can then be employed to predict whether that frontal system will move over the UK or the still, warm weather will last for another couple of days, for example.

 

 

Climate

The difference between weather and climate is essentially a measure of time. Climate describes the long-term average weather conditions (e.g. of temperature, precipitation and humidity) for a certain region and time period, predominantly considered to be 30 years.

 

Climate differs around the planet, principally controlled by the energy from the sun which is dispersed across the surface at the North and South Poles and concentrated at the Tropics. As well as this latitudinal gradient, the sun’s energy varies with altitude. The air is cooler at higher elevations because most of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the land and oceans, warming up the air close to it, and the thinner atmosphere at higher altitudes is forced to expand causing a dispersion of heat. As a result, you would need a different wardrobe in Antarctica or the Himalayas compared to the Sahara or Caribbean.

 

Climatology is the study of these climate characteristics in addition to the more complex behaviour of the atmosphere which is heavily influenced by the land, oceans and chemical reactions. Scientists investigate the various weather records to identify patterns of averaged and extreme conditions, and to predict whether storm activity is likely to increase or hose-pipe bans will become more regular in years to come, for example.