What is Climate Change?
To understand climate change, it is important to recognize the difference between weather and climate.
Weather refers to the atmospheric conditions at one particular time and place, and can change from hour to hour, day to day, and season to season. It is a description of physical condition in the atmosphere such as: humidity, temperature, pressure, wind and precipitation. There are a variety of weather events that occur every year and these are floods, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes and heat waves.
Climate, on the other hand, refers to the long-term average pattern of weather in a place. For example, we might say that the climate of a place is warm, moist and sunny, although the weather on a particular day could be quite different than that. Thus, Climate is commonly defined as the average weather for a specific location, region or the entire globe over an extended period of time (usually three decades).
The difference between weather and climate is the measure of time. Weather is what the conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time and climate is the average weather over a very long period of time. Weather means conditions such as air temperature, rain, snow, wind, or other atmospheric phenomena, on a particular day. Climate describes what kind of weather a particular location is likely to have either seasonally or all the time; for example, A specific location has a dry climate, so we expect that it will rarely rain there, because a low amount of rain is the average condition there measured long enough to know what to expect. Weather speaks to the atmospheric conditions now or in the past or future. Climate speaks to the variations of weather over time. Weather changes from season to season, but the “sum” of the weather over time is climate. Weather changes, but climate isn’t so changeable.
Climate Change refers to a long-term shift in climate measured as a change in some or all of the features associated with weather, such as temperature, wind, precipitation. This can involve both changes in average conditions (e.g. mean daily temperature) and in the variability of the weather. For the term climate change to properly apply, the shift in conditions should continue over an extended period of time. Climate change can result from either natural or anthropogenic (human-influenced) causes. It should be noted that in a political context, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change uses the term climate change to refer specifically to human-induced climate change. Long-term data are needed to determine changes in climate, and such data indicate that Earth’s climate has been changing or not.