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Glacier and Landscape Change in Response to Changing Climate

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Weather and Climate

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WEATHER is the term used to describe a set of current conditions or phenomena that occur in Earth's lower atmosphere at any point in time. Weather phenomena typically include: air temperature; amount and type of precipitation; cloud conditions including type and altitude of clouds; air pressure; wind direction and speed, humidity; visibility; and intensity and duration of sunlight/solar radiation. Weather is affected by many features including: geographic location; elevation; terrain conditions; persistent ice or snow cover; proximity to large moisture sources, such as oceans; and relative location of atmospheric and oceanographic currents. Almost all familiar weather phenomena occur in the lower atmosphere, the troposphere. Weather refers to current conditions.

CLIMATE is the term that refers to the average weather conditions over much longer periods of time, ranging from months, to decades to centuries, to millennia. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) defines the standard averaging period as 30 years. Climate change is any long-term significant change in the "average weather" that a given location experiences.

For more information visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Web site Weather and Climate Basics.


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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2012