Weather and Climate Basics

Weather and Climate Basics

What is the difference between weather and climate? Weather is the air temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, wind, moisture content, and air pressure at any particular time in any particular place. Weather reflects the prevailing conditions of the air masses overlying the land and seas over the entire globe. Climate is the overall picture of weather during periods of seasons or years. Historical records (including geological and recorded history) show us how the climate of the Earth has changed throughout its history.


Earth's Energy Source

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The Earth’s main energy source is the sun. The sun causes convection within the atmosphere, which in turn affects weather and climate. Find resources here to help students use real-time data to learn about the relationship between the sun, weather, and climate.


Convection In the Atmosphere

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The heating of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere by the sun drives convection within the atmosphere and ocean, producing winds and ocean currents. Find resources here to help you better understand how convection impacts weather and climate, including some hands-on activities, lesson plans, real-time data and images.


Atmospheric Pressure and Winds

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The heating of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere by the sun drives convection within the atmosphere and ocean. This convection produces winds and ocean currents. The greater the pressure differences between a low-pressure area and a high-pressure area, the stronger the winds.


Weather Patterns

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Air masses and accompanying fronts do not remain stationary for long. Their movements are never exactly the same and they do exhibit some patterns that help meteorologists and others predict the weather. Moving fronts indicate a change in the weather. Resources in this section direct students to real-time radar and satellite images to learn about weather patterns.


What Is Climate?

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Climate is the weather in a location averaged over a long period of time. An old saying goes, "climate is what you expect, weather is what you get." Find out if our global climate is changing and what factors may be influencing these changes.


The Earth's Energy Budget
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