UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How does weather affect the way we live?
Question Date: 2005-12-01
Answer 1:

This is a very important question. Weather has a tremendous affect on peoples daily lives. For instance, it is raining today and looking outside I see far fewer joggers and bikers out today than on typical sunny days in Santa Barbara. People who are outside are wearing warmer (and more) clothing than they normally do, and are making no attempt to linger outside or sunbathe, but instead hurry around to try to rush back inside as fast as possible.

As long as were on the topic of weather, we might as well discuss climate too. It is commonly said, climate is what you expect (or predict), and weather is what you get. This is another way of saying that weather represents the conditions at a specific location on a specific day, while climate is the average conditions over many years. Both have a great impact on how we live, but climate tends to affect lifestyle, social structure, and culture, whereas weather affects daily choices such as those described above. Weather and climate to a large degree determine how we stay warm (or cool) enough to survive, how (and if) we stay comfortable, what modes of transportation we use, what type of clothing we wear, what foods we can grow and eat in an area, and what resources (such as water and trees) are plentiful or rare.

Weather sometimes has some less obvious affects on the way we live, too. For instance, weather patterns control the ocean as well as the land. During storms, we see bigger waves that carry away more sand from our beaches and can destroy kelp forests, washing huge mats of drift kelp onto the beaches. If you are a SCUBA diver or surfer, these factors will have an important effect on your recreational life. Storms also cause a lot of runoff to wash dirt from streets into rivers and streams and out to the ocean, where they may have an impact on bacteria levels in the ocean (many surfers supposedly get sick from bacteria in the water after large storms). Weather patterns can also control fish populations in some areas and have a large effect on fishermen that harvest these fish (and the people who eat the fish).

Here in southern California, it doesn't rain very often so most farmers have to irrigate their fields with water from elsewhere in order to grow food. This creates competition for limited water resources between farming and other interests, such as drinking water, recreation (e.g., swimming pools) and landscaping. Climate and weather strongly control what fruits and vegetables can grow. For instance, next time you visit the supermarket, look at the labels on the fruits and vegetables to see where they are from. Many of them will likely be from California because we can grow a huge variety of food here for two reasons: 1) there are many different climates in California, and 2) many of the climates are favorable for the growth of many of the foods we like to eat. However, you may find some foods that are not grown in California for one of two reasons: 1) that fruit or vegetable cannot grow well enough here to be farmed (such as pineapples), or 2) that fruit or vegetable only grows during certain seasons here and so must be imported from other countries when it is not growing here (such as grapes and apples).

Another important aspect of weather that has a huge effect on our lives is extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, droughts, fires (forest fires), floods, heat waves, or cold snaps and winter storms. For instance, about a dozen people died last year in La Conchita when an anomalously wet rain season caused landslides that buried several houses. The summer before last, thousands died in Europe during an extreme heat wave, and thousands died recently in the southeast during a horrible hurricane season. Some of these extreme events may be consequences of climate change caused by humans and the burning of fossil fuels, while others are just periodic events that happen very infrequently. In many cases, these extreme events are more catastrophic now due to higher human populations. For instance, droughts that cause crops to fail and water sources to dry up are probably harder on areas with many people to feed and water than on areas with fewer people.

There is really no end to the ways that weather and climate affect our lives. I encourage you to look at the things you on a daily basis and think about how they are affected by the weather and climate. Also think about how you live might change when the weather changes here or if different extreme weather events were to occur in this area. Finally, think about how weather changes that occur elsewhere might affect the way you live. For instance, if there were a drought in an area that grows foods that you eat, how would your shopping and eating habits be affected?

Answer 2:

Weather affects us in a huge number of ways. Climate influences the growth of crops, thus affecting the availability and kind of food we eat. Fluctuations in weather (e.g. dry spells, wet spells) also affect crops. Weather affects what clothes we wear, and soon. I can't think of anything we do that weather doesn't have a strong effect on.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use