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What is weather? How is weather different from climate? Can human actions influence the weather and climate of a given region? Your task is to investigate how the annual temperature of Earth changes over time. The Climate Change Calculator simulation provides a tool for studying a region's annual temperature for an extended time. You'll study which factors impact the rise and fall of annual temperature and how people might change the climate of specific areas on Earth.

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Weather Brochure

Weather Brochure

What is weather?

Weather is the specific condition of the atmosphere at a particular place and time, as measured on a scale of hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or storm, clear or cloudy. It can also be measured in terms of wind speed, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloudiness, and precipitation. Weather occurs due to density (temperature and moisture) differences between one place and another. In most places, weather changes hourly, daily, and seasonally.

How is weather measured?

Weather is measured using a variety of instruments, like anemometers to measure wind speeds, thermometers to measure the amount of heat in the atmosphere, and barometers to measure air pressure. These measurements allow scientists to predict future weather conditions.

What are some forms of weather?

Weather comes in many forms. Some common forms of weather are sunshine, rain, thunderstorms, snow, and fog. More severe forms of weather are tornadoes, hurricanes, electric storms, and ice storms.

Is weather seasonal? Regional?

Weather changes seasonally, meaning that different seasons are characterized by different weather patterns. For example, summer is usually hot, while winter is usually cold. The air begins to warm up in the spring, and the air begins to cool in the fall. Both spring and fall are often wet seasons. Weather is also considered to be regional, because it differs depending on geography. Locations close to the equator are generally hotter and wetter, while regions closest to the north and south poles are generally colder and drier.

What is climate?

Climate is defined as an area's long-term weather patterns. The simplest way to describe climate is to look at average temperature and precipitation over time. This includes average weather conditions, regular weather sequences, and special weather events. In addition to temperature and precipitation, weather phenomena like fog, frost, and humidity are also included in an area's climate.

How is climate measured or recorded?

Scientists use many techniques to record climate data, such as weather stations, weather balloons, ocean buoys, weather satellites, ice cores, and tree rings. This data gives clues to help understand how weather works on a long-term scale.

What gases make up Earth's atmosphere?

Two gases make up the bulk of what is called "air" in Earth's atmosphere. Air is defined as that part of the atmosphere used for breathing and photosynthesis. About 78% of the atmosphere is nitrogen gas, while oxygen gas is about 21%. Water vapor usually makes up about 1% of dry air. Carbon dioxide, argon, and other gases compose less than 1% of the atmospheric gases.

What are greenhouse gases?

Gases in Earth's atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation are called greenhouse gases. These gases keep Earth's temperature much warmer than if no gases were present in the atmosphere. The increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases has been associated with increases in global temperature. Greenhouse gases, in order of abundance in Earth's atmosphere are: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons.
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