The Atmosphere.

Essay by sandileeUniversity, Master'sA+, June 2003

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(Question #1) When atmospheric scientists describe the "weather" at a particular time and place or the "climate" of a particular region, they describe the same sort of characteristics: air temperature, type and amount of cloudiness, type and amount of precipitation, air pressure, and wind speed and direction. Weather is the current atmospheric conditions that include temperature, rainfall, wind, and humidity at any given place. If you stand outside, you can tell how hot it is by taking a temperature reading or feel if it is raining or windy, sunny or cloudy. All of these factors make up what we think of as weather. Weather is what is happening right now or likely to happen tomorrow or in the very near future.

Climate, on the other hand, is the general weather conditions. For example, in the winter, we expect it to often be rainy in Portland, Oregon, sunny and mild in Phoenix, Arizona, and very cold and snowy in Buffalo, New York.

But it would not be particularly startling to hear of an occasional January day with mild temperatures in Buffalo, rain in Phoenix, or snow in Portland. Meteorologists often point out that "climate is what you expect and weather is what you get. Climate is sometimes referred to as "average" weather for a given area. The National Weather Service uses values such as temperature highs and lows and precipitation measures for the past thirty years to compile "average" weather for any given area. However, some atmospheric scientists consider "average" weather to be an inadequate definition. To more accurately portray the climatic character of an area, variations, patterns, and extremes must also be included. Thus, climate is the sum of all statistical weather information that helps describe a place or region. Climate can be applied more generally to large-scale weather patterns...