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Stars in the Forecast?

As a photographer, I’m always checking the weather. The forecast on a recent trip to the Eastern Sierras told me what the likely temperature range would be for the duration of my stay, that I might face rain on at least one day of my trip, and that I’d get the clear skies I needed to shoot star trails at Mono Lake—and, as you can see from the photos (at left and above), I did.

Weather concerns local and transient atmospheric conditions. It can change on a daily—even hourly—basis and can affect areas as small as a neighborhood or as large as a region (such as southern California, the Pacific Northwest, or all of New England).

Climate, too, concerns atmospheric conditions affecting regions (relatively) small and large over long periods of time. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “some scientists define climate as the average weather for a particular region and time period, usually taken over 30-years. It’s really an average pattern of weather for a particular region.” Those include “averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind velocity, phenomena such as fog, frost, and hail storms, and other measures of the weather that occur over a long period in a particular place.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers the following examples of “climate” on its website: “For example, you can expect snow in the Northeast in January or for it to be hot and humid in the Southeast in July. This is climate. The climate record also includes extreme values such as record high temperatures or record amounts of rainfall. If you’ve ever heard your local weather person say ‘today we hit a record high for this day,’ she is talking about climate records.”

So, when NASA revealed last week that “September 2016 was the warmest September in 136 years of modern record-keeping,” <http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/news/20161017/> it raised further concerns about climate change, in general, and global warming, in particular, because this trend has occurred over a long period of time and is affecting the entire planet:

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations. The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn’t cover enough of the planet.

To read more about the differences between weather and climate, see:

What is the difference between weather and climate?
Climate and Weather
Difference Between Weather and Climate
NASA – What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate?

For more about the ongoing cycle of record high global temperatures, see:

September 2016 was the hottest on record: NASA
NASA Analysis Finds Warmest September on Record By Narrow Margin
Last Month Was Hottest September on Record, NASA Says
UK Set for Hottest September for 350 Years and TUESDAY Will See Temps Higher than HAWAII
Hottest September On Record Basically “Locks In” 2016 As Hottest Year: NASA
Rising Temperatures Are Making Life in Tropical Cities Precarious for the Poor