Weather and climate affect the way people dress and their activities on a daily, weekly and even monthly basis. Clothing and activities are adjusted based on the way the weather and an area's climate affect each other. In fact, people many choose the places they live based on climate and weather. But first they need to know what weather and climate are.
Weather is defined as the conditions outdoors at any time of the day or night and illustrates short-term changes from one day to the next. Meteorologists, or weather reporters, keep records of the weather every day. They log the amount of rain or snow, wind and temperature highs and lows for their community, then report the results on the daily news along with their predictions for the upcoming week.
Climate describes average weather conditions in certain areas of the country or world and shows the typical weather for longer than one day at a time. To understand climate, scientists must record the weather for many years, even unusual weather phenomena like tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding. Then they look at the results and describe the climate by showing typical spring, summer, autumn or winter weather or the normal weather for the whole year.
The Earth has climate systems that control the climate and the weather. The atmosphere is a small layer of gases that forms the air people breath and covers the Earth to keep it from getting too hot and cold. Oceans are huge bodies of water that are able to store a lot of heat and can swap energy with the atmosphere, which helps keep Earth's temperatures fairly even. Land masses, like continents, and topography (mountains, deserts, forests) affect local weather. Most of the world's fresh water is stored in icebergs and glaciers in the north and south polar regions. Earth is a biosphere that sustains human, animal and plant life and creates the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Detecting Climate Changes
Scientists observe past and present climate conditions by looking for climate changes. In weather stations they measure and record temperatures and rainfall along the Earth's surface. Weather balloons are used to measure conditions in every level of the atmosphere. Buoys warn ships of dangerous ocean and river conditions and have tools to measure ocean temperatures and other weather conditions. Weather satellites record weather conditions from space and send it back to scientists on Earth. Scientists test air bubbles in icebergs and glaciers by removing cylinder-shaped core samples and checking them for greenhouse gases that may have been present thousands of centuries ago. Layers of sediment that formed the Earth's crust over centuries give scientists information about where glaciers, oceans and plant life used to be. Scientists can learn a lot from trees. They can tell a tree's age by the number of rings it has, and they can figure out the temperatures and rain or snowfall by examining the spacing between rings.
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