Weather is the state of the atmosphere at one time and place. The atmosphere is the thin layer of gasses, like nitrogen and oxygen, surrounding the Earth. The weather rarely stays the same for very long, but changes from day to day and even changes throughout a single day or a within a few minutes! Over a long period of time the weather pattern in one place is called the climate. Given a very long period of time (thousands of years), even climate changes. Because of how it affects people – the food we grow, the clothes we wear, the houses we build, our travel and every day events – the atmosphere, weather and climate have been studied by humans from the beginning of time. The study of weather and the atmosphere is called meteorology, yet most people note the weather every day.
Weather is important to our daily lives. The air temperature and moisture affect how comfortable we feel. Imagine walking to school or work in -20°F or 100°F. Either end of the temperature spectrum can make us uncomfortable and even endanger our lives. If we are cold for too long we can get frostbite or hypothermia. If we are hot for too long we can get heat stroke or in the sun too long – sunburned. Yet even small temperature changes can make us feel uncomfortable. Think about the last time you were outside somewhere and the clouds came in or a wind came up and you felt cold. If you did not have a coat to put on, did you stay outside much longer?
Weather costs people money. Think about the cost of heating oil in cold climates and electricity for air conditioning in hot climates. In northern climates, towns and cities must keep fleets of snowplows and drivers ready for storms. Droughts can affect crops and if they fail can raise food prices. Fog can affect traffic safety. Hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms can cause damage to homes, roads and bridges and even cost lives.
We notice the weather every day. We wake up and think about how to dress for that day’s weather. We worry about the weather affecting our parties, ballgames, picnics, and travels. We check the weather on TV, in the newspaper and online. We comment to people we meet – sure is a nice day – or what terrible weather! Weather is a very important part of our lives.
What Makes the Weather?
When talking about weather we may say it is hot, cold, windy or rainy, but many things contribute to the weather on any given day.The factors that affect the weather in any given place and time are:
Air temperature – how hot or cold it is in your area.
Air pressure – the pressure of the air in your area.
Humidity – the amount of water vapor in the air in your area.
Precipitation – falling rain or snow in your area.
Wind – air moving across the land in your area.
Clouds – water vapor forming droplets or crystals (into clouds) in your area.
NGSS Earth Space Science Progression K-12
ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems
K-2 Wind and water change the shape of the land.
3-5 Four major Earth systems interact. Rainfall helps to shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller pieces and move them around.
6-8 Energy flows and matter cycles within and among Earth’s systems, including the sun and Earth’s interior as primary energy sources. Plate tectonics is one result of these processes.
9-12 Feedback effects exist within and among Earth’s systems.
ESS2.D Weather and Climate
K-2 Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region and time. People record weather patterns over time.
3-5 Climate describes patterns of typical weather conditions over different scales and variations. Historical weather patterns can be analyzed.
6-8 Complex interactions determine local weather patterns and influence climate, including the role of the ocean.
9-12 The role of radiation from the sun and its interactions with the atmosphere, ocean, and land are the foundation for the global climate system. Global climate models are used to predict future changes, including changes influenced by human behavior and natural factors.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards
K-2 In a region, some kinds of severe weather are more likely than others. Forecasts allow communities to prepare for severe weather.
3-5 A variety of hazards result from natural processes; humans cannot eliminate hazards but can reduce their impacts.
6-8 Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region and understanding related geological forces.
9-12 Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales.