We have heard it again and again in the media – prominent politicians or celebrities equating weather with climate. Perhaps you have heard something along the lines of, “Global warming? But it’s so cold today!” or “Global warming can’t be true because we have a snow storm right now.”
In a time of information inundation, it’s more important than ever to know the facts.
Do you know what the difference is between weather and climate?
Weather is a daily occurrence that is made up of temperature, rainfall and humidity. This is fairly predictable and it tracked by meteorologists on a daily basis globally. For example, today the weather was cloudy and cold in London. The weather in Athens was warm and sunny.
Climate is what controls the weather. Climate is the average weather pattern over a series of years and is determined by looking at trends over time. For example, London has a temperate oceanic climate with cool winters and mild summers, while Athens has a Mediterranean climate with mild, moderately rainy winters and hot, sunny summers.
Climate change is changing the climatic conditions, which in turn affect the weather.
We have seen this first hand in London, where we have had periods of drought in the summer.
Typically, parks in London look like this:
Last summer, parks looked like this from the lack of rain over a period of two months:
Changing climates impact many things, from the ability of native plants and animals to thrive in the environment, all the way through to disease and pests.
Lyme disease, for example, was predominantly found in the southern United States of America. Lyme disease is spread by ticks, that typically live on deer. In the past, northern states such as Vermont and Maine were unaffected by Lyme disease because the climate didn’t allow the ticks to survive. As the climatic conditions have changed in these regions, Lyme disease has increased significantly.
The effects of changing climatic conditions are unpredictable, and that is one of the challenges we face.