Understanding Climate : #1 - Components Of Climate

The difference between weather and climate

Weather is what you see every day: whatever the sky is doing, that is your local weather.  Sun, rain, hail, snow, thunder and lightning - all these are weather.  Fluffy white clouds, thunderheads, tornados, hurricanes - all are weather.

Wherever you live in the world you can pretty much guess what sort of weather you will get season by season and what weather you won't get.  The range of your local weather throughout the year doesn't change much from year to year.  If you live in one region, snow may be common - in another region snow may be unheard of.

The range of weather expected to occur with a high degree of probability in any specific region describes the regional climate.  Does it snow in the Amazonian rainforest?  No - wrong climate.  Do fig trees grow in Antarctica?  No - wrong climate.

Weather is a short term event within a climate zone.  The world is divided into climate zones due to natural features.  In this brief introduction to the climate sciences I hope to explore and explain some of those features.

An introduction to climate sciences

Climate science isn't just about air.  Climate is mainly due to the atmosphere and its effects, but there are features of our planet that directly affect air temperature, air flow, air chemistry and air mixing.  In order to get a good grasp on how our atmosphere keeps us alive we need to study much more than gases.  Climate is so complex that it requires a multi-disciplinary approach to its study.

Some of the many disciplines in climate studies briefly described:

Astronomy - our planet's relationship to the sun and moon and how these affect climate.

Geodesy - the measurement and representation of our planet in three-dimensional space.

Hypsography - the distribution of land masses in extent and height.

Geomorphology - the ways in which landforms change over time.

Hydrology - the study of water dynamics in rivers, lakes, aquifers and glacial meltwaters.

Glaciology - the study of glaciers, ice sheets, ice and meltwaters.

Oceanography - the study of waves, currents - also chemical and thermal dispersion mechanisms.

Coastal geography - the study of ocean-land dynamic interactions and sea-level change.

This is but a short preface to a series, and these are some of the topics I intend to expand on in the series on understanding climate science.


Understanding Climate : #2 - Earth Air Water Fire commences the basics of day-night and seasonal cyclic effects on our planet's climate in its journey around the sun.

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