What is climate?

How is climate different from weather?

The dictionary defines climate as “the average state of atmospheric phenomena in a given region over a long period of time.

Whereas weather is an instantaneous atmospheric phenomenon that changes from moment to moment, climate is the sum total of long-term atmospheric phenomena.

Climate is more of a time period, such as the 24 seasons and 72 days of the year in the western sense of geohu1) and the 24 seasons and 72 days of the year in the eastern sense of shihu. The current usage of the word climate includes both.

Thus, climate is the sum of the most distinct atmospheric conditions that recur year after year in a particular place on Earth.

The opposite of climate is weather.

Weather is the “general state of the atmosphere over a long period of time”.

The difference between weather and climate is that weather is more deeply involved in living conditions. Weather is the state of the atmosphere as a result of the meteorological factors of barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind, cloud cover, precipitation, sunlight, and visibility (how cloudy the atmosphere is).

In other words, while weather is the day-to-day variation in weather, climate is the sum total of weather changes over long periods of time. As science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein once said, “Climate is what’s ahead; weather is what’s in front of us.” It’s a simple, easy definition.

To understand climate accurately, you need to have a good understanding of the physical processes of weather and how it affects people’s lives. For example. When it rains, we use umbrellas, and when it’s hot, we wear cool clothes.

These are people’s reactions to the weather. It doesn’t matter where you live, people have the same response.

However, the response to climate varies from region to region.

Over time, people have adapted to their climatic environment, creating a unique culture. Where it snows a lot, roofs are steeply pitched. In areas with strong winds, dwellings are built to withstand the wind.

In other words, the term climate reflects the concept of the region in which people live. This is how it differs from weather.

Etymology of climate

The etymology of climate comes from a passage in the Chinese text The Book of the Emperor’s Inner Sutra, circa 2000 BC: “Five days are called hu, three days are called qi, six days are called shi, and four days are called three years.” In this way, climate is derived from the 24 seasons and 72 periods that separate the seasons.

The study of climate in the West began in ancient Greece.

The word climate comes from the Greek word klima, which means “slope”. In astronomy, it’s associated with the tilt of the earth’s axis and changes in the sun’s altitude. We can see that climate has its origins in life in relation to the change of seasons.

Climate changes

Climate is a long-term average of weather, so it doesn’t change as often and as drastically as weather, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t change at all. It does change seasonally and from year to year. Nevertheless, climate doesn’t change much unless a certain climatic period changes.

Some scientists used to distinguish between weather and climate on a time scale of a week or so, but more recently they have been using a 30-year statistical period for weather. The 30-year period for weather statistics is a recommendation from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The 30-year period is determined by the calendar year, such as 1951-1980, 1961-1990, etc. and is called a climate period.

People live by adapting to weather and atmospheric phenomena that occur on average. For example, vegetation can only survive if it is adapted to the local climate. Vegetation that has been growing for at least 30 years can be considered adapted to the local climate.

It is therefore difficult to adapt to weather that occurs only once every few hundred years or so.

For example, precipitation exceeding 300 mm per day in an area with an average annual rainfall of 1,500 mm, or temperatures below -30 °C in an area with an average temperature of -3 °C in the coldest month, are abnormal conditions.

These deviations from normal conditions are known as “extreme weather events”2). They can cause serious weather disasters.

However, if the seasonal or monthly averages, not just the weather on a single day, deviate significantly from normal values, it is called “extreme weather”. A recent example is climate change due to global warming.

Unlike extreme weather events, climate change has a major impact on civilisations and countries. An example is the desertification and drought in Africa, which has led to civil wars and countless refugees.

Climate is life itself

The Earth’s surface is largely made up of oceans and continents, which are surrounded by air.

They are in close interaction. Climate was the most important factor in the origin of humanity. Our ancestors, who survived a powerful ice age, have their roots in Africa.

Climate changes the vegetation on the ground. And when the vegetation changes, so do the animals that depend on it. For humans, therefore, climate was life itself.

The lack of advanced civilisations in Africa was largely due to climate: high humidity and high temperatures made it difficult to preserve records on paper. Mid-latitude regions, on the other hand, have a suitable climate that allows records to be preserved and transmitted over a long period of time, creating advanced civilisations.

How Climate Affects Ceremonialism

Climate has also influenced the way humans dress. Let’s look at clothing first. In the past, clothing was directly influenced by the climate, so different types of materials and designs were chosen depending on the region.

For the most comfortable life, you needed clothes that were suitable for the climate of the area, and climate was the main reason why the same clothes could not be worn everywhere. Of course, in recent years, globalisation and the development of air conditioning have reduced these differences.

Food culture was also greatly influenced by climate. In Asia, rice-based food cultures developed because of the hot and humid summers. On the other hand, in relatively dry areas, wheat was grown instead of rice, and a food culture based on bread made from wheat developed.

In the Middle East, pigs are not eaten because of the hot climate.

In India, the custom of not eating cows originated from the monsoon climate and the roughness of the land, which made farming without cows impossible. Later, of course, religious reasons were added.

Inuit (Eskimos) don’t eat dogs. Inuit (Eskimos) don’t eat dogs because it’s hard to survive in a cold climate without them as a means of transport.

Climate has also had a huge impact on housing culture. In the tropics, houses are built to allow for breezes. In the Middle East, houses are built to keep the heat out.

Increasingly rapid climate change

What distinguishes the climate system from other components of the Earth’s surface, such as soil, rocks, and landforms, is that it is highly dynamic. Of course, the elements that make up the Earth’s environment are constantly changing.

Landscapes and soils change over time, and so do the lives of people. But climate change is happening at a much faster rate. Changes, both large and small, are constantly occurring, both instantaneous and recurring, year after year.

Since the turn of the 20th century, climate change has become more rapid. Desertification and great droughts in Africa and Australia are good examples. Rapid climate change is causing food shortages, which in turn is affecting international affairs.

The Jasmine Revolutions that swept across North Africa and the Middle East in 2011 were also triggered by climate change-induced food shortages, according to Bloomberg.

The 2015 Syrian refugee crisis was also caused by desertification and drought in the Middle East. Half of Syria’s rural population was forced to flee their homes due to climate change. This made the refugee crisis a serious political issue in Europe.

The June 2016 Brexit vote in the UK was also driven by climate change-induced refugees. Refugee flows in Africa, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are also affected by climate change.

The problem is that this global warming-induced climate change is not just a local issue. It is immediately causing fluctuations in the atmospheric circulation.

There is also the possibility of changes in ocean circulation, such as the collapse of the thermohaline circulation. If climate change continues to be as severe as it is now, it will create new climatic conditions in the not-too-distant future.

We need to be on the lookout for the Anthropocene (人類世), a term first proposed by Paul Jozef Crutzen (1933- ) in 2000.

The Anthropocene is an era of rapid change in the Earth’s environmental systems due to climate change and degradation of the natural environment, forcing humanity to contend with a new climate and natural environment.

It is in this era that efforts to understand the importance of climate become more urgent.

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