Day by day, weather puts us through all sorts of highs and lows, making it hard to see the long-term changes in our climate. But what is the difference between the two?
Even during a global pandemic, we can count on the weather, right? Well, not necessarily.
Consider a year ago this week, eastern North Dakota was digging out from a monster blizzard.
We live in the middle of the continent of North America and because the rocky mountains run north and south, there is nothing here on the great plains to stop the weather from moving around except a few barb wire fences.
The weather tomorrow might be vastly different from today, and the weather on this date, this year, might not resemble this date next year. That’s weather.
Climate change is how all of these elements vary over time.
For example, frost came early this year on September 9th. However, the trend for several decades has been for that first frost to come late more often, and for that last frost of spring to come earlier.
The average growing season, the time without freezing from spring to fall, has lengthened by more than a week on average in the last 50 years.
During the time, average annual precipitation has increased by 20 percent. We get fewer 20 below nights in winter and more summer night that stay above 65 degrees all night.
We still have droughts and cold snaps. That’s weather. But our weather in general has gotten warmer and wetter. That’s climate.