This is the difference between weather and climate, if you thought they’re synonymous.

What if you’re asked, “what is the weather today?” You’re likely going to answer by saying that “it is the atmospheric condition,” sounds right; but what if you’re then asked, “what is climate?” Then you get yourself thinking that, “isn’t it the same as weather?” Spoiler Alert: It isn’t the same thing, technically, but as a layman’s definition, its Okay! People usually get confused about what is weather and climate, and if you happen to be one of such people, after you’re done reading this article, you’d get a better understanding of the two concepts.

Related media: Weather Vs Climate

Weather Vs Climate

Currently, if you’re having snow storms, or experiencing the hazy blaze of the sun, that’s weather — these conditions will persist for a couple of days to a few weeks at maximum, but will eventually seize and usher different conditions. But, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) states that calculating a climate record requires a minimum of 30 years of data.

So, does that mean rainstorms, sunshine, winds, hot days and cold nights within 29 years is just weather? Not really.

Let’s get this straight: whenever people talk of climate change, they usually refer to things like global warming — melting glaciers in Antartica, and rising temperatures. That’s alright, but isn’t that happening right now?, and isn’t that what we hear about in the daily weather forecast on the news? Yes, let us explain the difference.

Weather You’re Cool Or Hot

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Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Weather refers to the day-to-day conditions of the atmosphere — such as the minimum and maximum temperatures, the amount of cloud cover, the speed and direction of the wind, and any form of precipitation that might occur at any given moment. This is what we usually hear on the news. Let’s explain this better with this food consumption analogy.

Weather, in this analogy, can be considered as whatever you choose to eat at any point in time — this could be coffee for breakfast, rice for lunch, and maybe yams for dinner. That’s what you eat for any of these moments, just as the morning being cloudy, the afternoon being sunny, or the evening being humid — that’s what happens in the atmosphere at the moment right? This is what we refer to as the weather.

Climate’s For A Long Ass Time

Climate, on the other hand, describes the average atmospheric conditions over many years — such as the average annual rainfall, the predominant wind direction, or the season in which certain forms of precipitation are likely to occur. 

Climate in this food consumption analogy doesn’t mean what foods you’re going to eat at a given moment, but foods people tend to eat across cultures or different places. For instance, West Africans prefer foods with a lot of carbs, since foods rich in carbohydrates are naturally grown in the tropics, they’ve adapted to surviving on such foodstuffs. And also, carbs are highly rich in calories, so they tend to eat highly caloric diets.

Whereas in other parts like Europe and Asia, they tend to eat foodstuffs like rice, veggies, seafood (if they happen to be along the coast), or whatever foodstuffs available within their vicinity. Consuming foodstuffs like this is kind of like how different parts of the world have different atmospheric conditions different from others.

Understanding The Forecast

So what in the amazing name of nature does all this have to do with your understanding of weather forecast and climate projections? Short answer: everything!

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Image: Formula 1 | Sample of the weather forecast for the weekend

Weather forecast is what you hear on the news daily, or on your phone’s weather app. You’ll be informed on the minimum and maximum temperatures likely to occur, the chances of rainfall or sunshine. This also include any alerts for extreme events likely to occur in the next 24 to 72 hours. The weather forecast is what you choose to eat.

Climate projections, on the other hand, is derived from regional and global climate models or from statistical trend analysis over several years — i.e. the anticipated climate in the next few decades to 100 years. These let us know well in advance, weather trends that might occur in the future. The climate projections are foods your tend to eat depending your location.

So there you have it, the difference between weather and climate. You might need to take your regular fika each morning, or perhaps, stock your pantry with carbs for a whole season. That’s simply just adapting to the situation at hand. But if you find yourself in another part of the globe, you’ll reconsider what you’ll choose to eat just for the time being or entirely.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Fri, Mar 29, 2019.

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