The Difference Between Climate and Weather

Do you know the difference between climate and weather?

IIn the realm of earth sciences, climate and weather are important factors to shaping our environment. In tandem, they give us white-fluffy snowstorms, thunder and lightning, warm summers, and chilly falls. They sustain the conditions for live to thrive, and are the forces of dynamic energy that have shaped our planet since the beginning.

The two also play an integral role in the science around global warming and its impact on shifting weather patterns.

But weather and climate are distinct features of earth’s atmosphere, despite the terms occasionally being used interchangeably.

So, what is the difference between climate and weather? One way to describe it would be "Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get".

sand dunes

What is Climate

Climate is described as a predicted long-term weather pattern within a region. Climate is why the Caribbean is known as a sun-soaked beach paradise, and Antarctica a bone-chilling expanse of ice.

While weather may change within an hour, the climate shifts over the course of decades and centuries. Unlike a meteorologist who makes a weather forecast based on data gathered that same day, climatologists collect data for periods of 30 years or more to determine future weather patterns.

rainy weather

What is Weather

Weather is what you check every morning before heading out the door. It dictates if you need rain boots or flip-flops, shorts or a beanie. It is the short-term (minutes-to-months) state of the atmosphere in a specific location at a specific time. The weather is right outside your window.

Weather is often conceived of in terms of measurements like temperature, precipitation, humidity, and air pressure. It is highly localized and can vary widely over short geographic distances.

global warming climate change

How Climate and Weather Are Changing

Climate and weather are always changing, and, currently, changing in the direction of global warming.

How do we know the planet is warming? According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997. And the National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration (NOAA) reports that recent decades have been the warmest since at least around 1000 AD. Those are exactly the kind of patterns that climate scientists study. And as the climate changes, weather changes too, and not always in the ways you'd expect.

Extreme weather events have been increasing both in frequency and intensity in the past few decades, as revealed in the latest IPPC Report on Climate Change.

According to the World Resources Institute, in 2018 we witnessed the second highest number of category 5 cyclones in history; a record 1.6 million acres of California forest lost to wildfires; record levels of flooding in Japan, heat waves in New England during winter, ice storms in sunny Florida, as well as two of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history. And let's not forget the polar vortex! It was due to diminishing polar ice that some parts of North America, Europe, and Russia experienced extreme cold in 2017. It turns out that with less polar ice, cold blasts don't stay in their typical patterns, they start to travel below the Arctic. Who knew!? Well... climate scientists did!

And that's just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg when it comes to unusual weather, something we should brace ourselves for, because it's not going to stop anytime soon.

forest fires global warming


It can definitely sound theoretical if you haven't been affected much yet, but it matters because the changing climate hints at what you're likely to see more of in the future, so you can be prepared for the unpredictable. Winters could get warmer, summers drier, floods might be more regular.

We need to be informed, adapt, and play a role in the ways that we know humanity can actually address this situation. Atmospheric carbon, methane, and other pollutants have contributed to global warming, and we can definitely do something about that!

By advocating for a transition to renewable energy, contributing to environmental restoration, reducing your carbon footprint, and of course, supporting reforestation to absorb more of these greenhouse gasses, we can make a real impact. Not just for humanity, but for all the life forms we share the planet with.

Longleaf Pine Main Image
Longleaf Pine Restoration
Longleaf Pine Tree Planter
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Longleaf Pine Landscape
Longleaf Pine Planting
Longleaf Pine Main Image
Longleaf Pine Restoration
Longleaf Pine Tree Planter
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Longleaf Pine Landscape
Longleaf Pine Planting

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. This project is currently supporting Longleaf Pine Restoration. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Protect wildlife habitat and increase biodiversity
  • Restore essential watersheds for soil stability and erosion control
  • Sequester carbon in the biomass of the forests through climate stability
  • Longleaf pine forests are among the most biodiverse in North America and provide habitat for numerous threatened and endangered species. Longleaf pine forests are well-adapted to a warming climate as longleaf pine is a resilient species that is fire-dependent, drought-tolerant, and long-lived. Reforestation of longleaf pine ecosystems- to increase, maintain, and enhance the species- has been identified as a priority area within America's Longleaf Range Wide Conservation Plan. 🌲
  • Our longleaf pine reforestation project will restore habitats, control soil erosion, and sequester carbon in an effort to stabilize the climate in the area. Not only will wildlife benefit from the clean air and water provided by the planted trees, but the surrounding community will, too. This project will work with a variety of landowners whose responsible forest management and stewardship will only further increase the benefits for species residing on the lands. Some of the most notable species that will benefit from habitat restoration include gopher tortoises, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and eastern indigo snakes
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about our Longleaf Pine Restoration project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the ground!
  • We always plant a mix of diverse, native species from local nurseries. This project is working to replenish longleaf forests, so the native species grown in the nurseries will mainly be longleaf pine, but also include shortleaf pine and loblolly pine.

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