Blog: Conservation Conversations with Jamie

What's the Big Difference?

It’s May in Chicago so, we have already witnessed three different seasons this month. It has been cold enough to feel like winter, rainy enough to be spring, and hot enough for me to research when summer will actually begin. People always point to our major swings in temperatures as an indicator of climate change and they are right, sort of. Weather and climate are two different things. Seriously. Let’s break down the differences between weather and climate so you can drop some hot knowledge at your upcoming summer barbecues.

Weather is what the person standing in front of the big map on the news is talking about. Technically, it is how the atmosphere is acting with respect to animals, nature, and people. Is it hot, raining, typhoon coming? In most places the weather can change minute-by-minute, season-by-season. If you can consult your local TV station to figure out what to wear, you are talking about weather. Weather absolutely indicates climate change, but you need to study weather for a long time to reach a conclusion.

Climate can be considered the long haul. Year after year, we expect certain things. Winter is cold, spring is rainy, and summer is hot. NASA takes the rocket science out of climate and makes it easy for us to understand. “Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space. An easy way to remember the difference is that climate is what you expect, like a very hot summer, and weather is what you get, like a hot day with pop-up thunderstorms.” Climate is the weather in one specific place over an extended period of time. Change in the climate isn’t measured over three hot summers or two snowless winters.  It is the average temperature/weather over decades. Let’s make it simple…weather is hour to hour, climate is decade after decade. 


Research continues on our ever-changing weather and climate. What are some of the climate discoveries you know? How do you think temperature and climate will affect you this summer, next summer, or ten summers from now?

Posted: 5/15/2017 4:03:30 PM by

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