What’s the difference between weather and climate?

Weather and climate are often confused, but it’s important to know the difference between these two related terms, particularly when engaging in the conversation on climate change. Put simply, weather refers to short-term measurements and climate is its long-term cousin.

We all know weather can change drastically day by day, and even hour by hour—just take a look at the dark clouds looming on the left in the image below.

When you measure the temperature in your backyard, or look up at the sky and notice whether the clouds are white or grey, you are taking weather measurements. We take these measurements so we can plan our day and perhaps choose what clothes to wear or activities to do.

What if you took a temperature measurement in your backyard every day for a year? Every day for ten years? Every day for 30 years? Now you’re starting to learn something about the climate at your location. Typically, climate scientists use 30 years worth of weather observations to make their calculations, which is why we say climate is the long-term average of weather.

There are lots of analogies to help illustrate the relationship between weather and climate. Choose your favourite out of the ones below, or make up your own and share it with us! Tag us on social media to continue the conversation on weather and climate: Facebook @KerryWoodNatureCentre, Instagram @kerry_wood_nature_centre, Twitter @NatureCentre.

To learn more about weather and climate, as well as build your very own weather instrument, kids and youth aged 6 to 13 can join an interpreter for an online workshop on Tuesday, July 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. or from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Younger kids are also welcome, however it is highly recommended that they have a parent or older sibling present to help them.

Pre-registration is required by 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 26 to reserve your spot. Supplies will be delivered to your door on Monday, July 27.

Posted July 19 2020