This is a question I am asked often when people talk to me about ‘climate change’
Simple answer –
WEATHER – is the day-to-day conditions of things like:
*sun [sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, overcast] and temperature, [hot,warm,cold]
*precipitation [drizzle, showers, rain, dew, frost, rain, storms, hail, snow]
*wind - strength[gentle, light, strong, gale, tornado] & direction
The forecasts and descriptions we get daily from our newspapers, radio, TV, smartphones.
CLIMATE – is about CONSISTENT RECURRING PATTERNS of weather over longer periods of time.
*The type of climate a place has is generally because of its geographical location.
*Places close to the equator do'nt have as much variation in the amount of sun and precipitation they receive because the angle of the sun does not vary as much as it does for those places further towards the poles. This is because of the angle of the earth’s axis and its path of rotation around the sun.
*This difference in the amount of sun received because of geographic location is one of the main factors in causing the patterns of CLIMATE.
*Generally climate is related to SEASONS. For example, some places near the Equator -and some at the poles -only have one season – weather every day is much the same as another.
*Places located in the tropics generally have two seasons – ‘the wet’ and ‘the dry’.
*Places located in the middle latitudes [e.g., Australia/UK] tend to have four seasons Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
*However other factors like being on coasts or inland, closeness to mountain ranges for example cause variations in these general climate patterns.
*Climatologists often describe climate patterns as ‘equatorial’, ‘tropical’, ‘middle latitude’, Mediterranean, ‘subpolar’ and ‘polar’.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT about describing the big changes we are having now as ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ rather than ‘weather change’ is that the changes are CONSISTENTLY occurring over time – the changes are becoming permanent –
more extreme and more often floods, droughts, bushfires, winds, storms, cyclones.
The previous CLIMATE patterns are significantly changing.
· We experience the evidence for climate change daily in our weather [hot and cold temperatures, storms, winds, rain, hail, snow] BUT
it is the increasing evidence that these events and changes are consistently happening more and more over longer periods of time that demonstrates the significant changes that are now occurring in our previous patterns of climate.
· There are now regular occurrences of forests burning, rivers flooding and areas of drought in Australia that have never experienced this before in human history: these are the impacts of climate change: the SEASONAL patterns of weather, i.e.,CLIMATE, are changing significantly.
Examples: permafrost [areas of earth’s surface that have been previously permanently frozen under ice and snow] areas near the north pole that have thousands of tons of carbon buried beneath them are now continuously melting: European glaciers are melting and retreating: ice sheets at the poles are melting.
If you would like to read about more of the scientific evidence for climate change and its destructive impacts on our world see
Joelle Gergis, Humanity's Moment: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope, Black Inc Books [Schwartz Media], 2022.
[I will have an additional page on the website considering the extensive evidence for the impacts of climate change very soon]
[David Smith, for electrifying Bradfield]