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Difference between weather and climate

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Have you heard the weather forecasters on TV news? They tell us about the temperature, likelihood of rains, cloudiness, humidity or whether there is a storm brewing over us. What they predict is the weather for the day. Weather is a mix of conditions that goes on in our atmosphere during any time of the day. The weather around us can be rainy, sunny, cloudy or gloomy depending on the conditions in the atmosphere. But it may change within minutes from being sunny to cloudy or from being cloudy to rainy and so on. So weather can be defined as the short term conditions of the atmosphere. It is what you see outside on any particular day or at any particular time.  

Climate on the other hand, is more than just a few warm or cool days. It is the average weather in a place over many years. For example, it may snow in the month of January in the Northeast and it may snow in the month of July in Southeast. Here we are talking about the average weather or the climate of the place during that month. Thus, climate can be defined as the weather of a particular area over a long period of time. It is determined by the measures of weather like averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind etc.

In simple terms, we can say that weather tells you what to wear each day, while climate tells you what kind of clothes you should have in your closet.

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Importance of knowing the weather or climate

Keeping an eye on the weather can help us plan ahead. . By knowing the weather in advance, we can take adequate precautions to take necessary measures. For example if we see a thunderstorm brewing, it would probably be a good idea to stay inside. Planning of sorties by aircrafts is also done as per the weather conditions of the day. If we are expecting a hurricane or floods we can evacuate the vulnerable areas and stock up food and fresh water. By knowing about an approaching blizzard, we can inform people to stay indoors to be safe.

Knowing the climate of a place on the other hand becomes important when you are taking a long vacation, like a month or even a year. People migrate and settle at different places due to schooling, for getting a professional degree of sorts or even a new job. In such cases, knowing the climate helps them to pack and plan accordingly.

   A wind sock indicates the direction of wind

Determining the weather of a place

The weather instruments that are used commonly to measure various aspects of the weather are as follows –

  1. Thermometer – It measures the air temperature. There are digital thermometers or thermometers with mercury or alcohol. As the liquids heat, they expand and moves up a tube and gives the temperature.
  2. Barometer – It measures air pressure. A rising barometer indicates sunny and dry conditions. A falling barometer indicates stormy or wet conditions.
  3. Rain gauge – It measures the amount of rain that has fallen over a specific time period.
  4. Wind vane – It determines the direction of wind.
  5. Anemometer – It measures wind speed.
  6. Hygrometer – It measures the humidity or water vapor content of air.
  7. Weather maps – Meteorologists use weather maps to forecast the weather. It displays various meteorological features across an area at a particular point in time. Nowadays there are several websites that give you live weather maps.
  8. Weather satellites – They are used to photograph and track large-scale air movements. The meteorologists compile and analyze this data.


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Determining the climate of a place

Determining the climate of a place requires taking an average of all the above measures over a long period of time in a place. The overall climate of a place is determined by its height above sea level (altitude), its distance from the equator (latitude), its proximity to oceans and its own terrain.

Knowing the climate of a place helps us to decide what kind of crops to cultivate, what kind of houses would be suitable and the kind of roads that need to be built. For example, paddy requires a wet climate whereas tomatoes can grow in dry climates too. Slanting roofs are favorable for areas which receive heavy rainfall or snow, while igloos are designed to survive in Polar Regions. Even the materials used to build roads vary with the climate of the region to sustain the wear and tear accordingly.


Thus, we can say that weather is the combination of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind. Climate on the other hand, represents the synthesis of weather averaged over a long period, including the statistics of weather extremes.

Check Point

  1. Answer with either “climate” or “weather”.
  2. A rainy day in an area refers to the ________ of the place on that day.
  3. If you are going to London or India for a student exchange program for a year, what would be check before packing your bags?
  4. What would you check before going on a picnic the next day?
  5. Name the instruments that are used to measure the following –
  6. Temperature
  7. Air pressure
  8. Direction of wind
  9. Humidity refers to the __________ content in the atmosphere.

Answer Key

A) 1. Weather 2. Climate 3. Weather

B) 1. Thermometer 2. Barometer 3. Wind vane

C) Water vapor

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