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What is weather? What is climate?
Question Date: 2003-02-06
Answer 1:

Weather is what the temperature precipitation (snow, rain, etc.), wind, and humidity (moisture in the air), clouds, etc. are like on any one day. Climate is a long-term view of weather. For example, if you want to know the weather in Santa Barbara today, you could look outside, use tools like a thermometer, a barometer, a wind speed meter, etc. Or you could look it up on a site like: weather

As I'm writing this, it's 62F in Santa Barbara. Here in Milwaukee, it's 17F.

Obviously our weather is different today. But any particular day could be a lot colder or warmer than usual. Climate is a description of what weather is usually like. You can look up the average temperature and precipitation for just about anywhere in the world at this site:
worldclimate .

I can see that the average temperature in Santa Barbara in February is 53.8 F. Here the average is 23 F. These long-term patterns are what we call climate. Santa Barbara has a "Mediterranean" climate.

Climate is caused by a lot of things, but mainly how close you are to the equator, your elevation, and how close you are to the ocean. Milwaukee is farther from the equator than Santa Barbara, so it's colder here in winter. Neither Santa Barbara nor Milwaukee are very far above sea level, but if you go up in elevation, it tends to be colder. Having the ocean right near Santa Barbara keeps the city warmer in winter and colder in summer. That's because water holds its temperature longer than air does. If you go over the Santa Ynez mountains you will notice that the weather at say, Lake Cachuma may be colder in the winter and warmer in the summer than Santa Barbara. That's because Lake Cachuma is more isolated from the ocean. Take a look at a globe and see if you can predict what the climate would be like in different places.

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