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How Climate and Weather Fronts Are Related: It's all About Time

written by: Kyra•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 5/16/2011

Weather and climate relate to each other as they are the study of the same phenomena. The difference between them depends on the amount of time covering them. Weather fronts generally cover a short time period, while climate covers decades into centuries.

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    Earth’s weather fronts and climate are controlled by many factors, including the Earth’s rotation, weather patterns and even the currents of the ocean. Climate is the overall weather, air pressure, atmospheric condition and temperature that any given region has over the course of years. While every region will see spikes in storms or dry spells, typically each area has a set type of weather pattern seen throughout the year.

    Nasa blue marble 

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    Weather Fronts

    Weather fronts are pushed along the jet stream and can drastically change temperature either before a front passes or behind one. If the front is strong enough, it can cause severe storms to form due to the clashing of air pressure systems. Low pressure systems are typically known as cold weather fronts as they bring cooler temperatures, cloudy days and sometimes storms. High pressure systems are known as warm fronts as they bring warmer temperatures and sunny skies. Air pressure is the weight of air molecules being exerted on a person; if the molecules are compressed, it is considered high pressure. Puget sound, cascade mountains and rain clouds 

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    Climate and Weather

    The major difference between weather fronts and climate is the passing of time. While weather refers to atmospheric behavior over a shorter period of time, namely hours to days, climate refers to the long-term changes and averages of daily weather and temperatures over years.

    When scientists talk about climate change, they are speaking of how weather has changed over the years and will change in the future. Climate can be affected by other issues such as El Nino, La Nina, volcanic eruptions or any other changes to Earth’s ecosystem. These are usually short-term changes but noticeable as they tend to create more active weather patterns. Climate is what people expect out of their weather, such as a hot summer or cold winter, and weather is what will actually happen, such as snow or humidity.

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    Climate Study

    When scientists study the climate, they are really looking at average weather patterns lasting in any given region over a 30 year period. Scientists will study temperature, wind velocity, precipitation, humidity, sunshine and many other weather phenomena to determine what the climate is for that area. Scientists take data such as rainfall averages, heat and humidity, and sunshine averages to decide what climate changes have occurred and whether the area has had a warmer or cooler summer, for example. Studying the climate is extremely important to understand what impact humans have had on the Earth and how future weather will affect humans. Climate visualization 

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    Climate is Long Term Weather

    In essence, climate is simply weather over a long period of time. While people tend to think of weather as localized and short term, climate extends beyond rain, hail or sun to encompass the average temperature and weather patterns over years.

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    References

    Climate and Weather, "Weather Fronts"

    NASA: It's a Breeze, How Air Pressure Affects You, http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/archive/air_pressure/

    NASA: "What's the Difference Between Weather and Climate?," http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html

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