Global Warming vs. Climate Change

Global Warming vs. Climate Change

Weather, global warming, and climate change

“Climate change” and “global warming” are often used interchangeably but have distinct meanings. Similarly, the terms "weather" and "climate" are sometimes confused, though they refer to events with broadly different spatial- and timescales.

Weather vs. Climate

“If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.”

– Mark Twain

Weather refers to atmospheric conditions that occur locally over short periods of time—from minutes to hours or days. Familiar examples include rain, snow, clouds, winds, floods, or thunderstorms.

Climate, on the other hand, refers to the long-term (usually at least 30 years) regional or even global average of temperature, humidity, and rainfall patterns over seasons, years, or decades.

What Is Global Warming?