What is the weather like?
We have all experienced it, but what is the weather like? Weather is the mix of events that happen every day in our atmosphere. The atmosphere is the layer of gases around the Earth. This is made of central nitrogen, some oxygen, and a few other gases and is held to the Earth by gravity.
The heat from the sun warms the gases in the atmosphere to different temperatures in different places, which causes the air to move. This air movement is called wind, and the wind changes the weather. Water vapor or moisture in the air also affects the weather. Changes in air pressure also affect the weather. So, the weather we experience depends on what is happening above us in the Earth’s atmosphere.
When we ask ‘what is the weather?’, the answer is different depending on which country you are in and what time it is. This is because the weather can change from minute to minute. For example, have you ever been outside in the sun and it suddenly starts to rain? That’s the weather changing before your eyes!
What’s the definition of weather, and what are the six types of weather?
If you’re feeling hot or cold or feeling the rain fall on you, then you’re experiencing the effects of the weather. Weather is about what’s going on in the sky and clouds. In other words, it’s the daily state of the atmosphere.
While climate refers to the average conditions of a place over a long period, the weather is a specific, temporary event. It could last for ten minutes, like a quick rain shower, or it might last for a few days, like a storm or cloudy sky. Unfortunately, the weather happens all the time, every day, and there’s not much we can do about it.
There are six parts of weather: temperature, cloudiness, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, wind, and humidity.
Meteorologists record and forecast the weather so that we can keep track of changing weather conditions and prepare for any extreme weather that is coming. Unfortunately, the weather is sometimes too unpredictable and changes too quickly for us to predict it accurately.
Weather affects our lives daily. This can be as simple as influencing the clothes we choose to wear or the activities we do. You wouldn’t go to the beach in a swimsuit when it’s snowing! You might pack different clothes if you are going on holiday, depending on where you are going. Not everywhere has the same climate. Think about the desert compared to Antarctica.
In more extreme cases, weather can lead to dangerous situations, destroying homes and taking lives. For example, weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes can be hazardous and destructive.
What are examples of the weather for kids?
To answer the question ‘what is the weather?’ it is best to look at examples of the weather that we are all familiar with! Here are some weather examples for kids:
What are the four elements of weather?
Four main elements of weather affect how we experience our daily lives. These are temperature, wind, snow or rain, and sunlight or clouds.
They can exist in different combinations and affect what we wear, where we go, and how we feel. For example, it can look very sunny outside in the middle of winter, but you will still need to wear a coat. Or it could be cloudy and windy but still quite warm.
Watching weather forecasts each day can help you decide how the four weather elements will affect your decisions that day. They show a weather map with the different conditions you can expect across the day and the week ahead. Maybe you can make the most of the sunshine. Perhaps you need to find some indoor activities instead.
What causes the weather?
Weather is caused by the sun’s heat and the air’s movement. The amount of moisture in the air also affects the weather. All weather happens in the lower layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. That is why it affects our lives so much. The four elements of weather combine to cause the day-to-day weather we experience.
The wind is created by warm air in the atmosphere rising and being replaced by colder air. This causes other weather conditions, such as clear skies or rain. The amount of moisture in the clouds affects the weather, causing us to experience rain, snow, and more. The different seasons are characterized by different weather, too.
How can we predict the weather?
Measuring the weather is called weather observation. That sounds relatively easy – anyone can observe the weather just by looking out the window! But how do we predict the temperature so that we can make forecasts? And how do we do it accurately and in detail?
Meteorologists measure all the different parts of the weather and put them together.
Measuring temperature is relatively straightforward: it only takes a thermometer. We use mercury in our thermometers, but mercury is a hazardous substance. Nowadays, digital thermometers are used to measure temperature.
Humidity is the quantity of water vapor in the air. It is measured by measuring the temperature of a thermometer with its end wrapped in a damp cloth. This is then compared to a regular thermometer. After doing some calculations, we can work out the humidity.
We measure wind direction and wind speed. Wind direction can be measured with a weather vane. It shows us where the wind has come from, which can tell us a lot about the weather. For example, wind from the north tends to be quite cold, while a wind from the south is warmer.
To measure wind speed, an anemometer is used. This spins to show how fast the wind is moving.
Visibility is the distance that we can see without binoculars or other assistance. When it is foggy, the visibility can be very low.
We measure our visibility by using our eyes. We look for points a set distance away and see which are apparent. Sometimes, lasers are used for better accuracy.
Rain accumulation is the amount of rain reaching the ground over some time. It is measured using rain gauges that capture rain.
Rain rate is the amount of rain falling out of the sky and its speed. We can use radar to estimate the rain rate.
The air pressure can tell us what type of weather to expect. For example, with high pressure, we usually expect clear skies and light winds. But when the pressure is low, the weather is often wet and windy. Pressure is measured with a barometer with different bubbles to show the air pressure.
These are the main factors that we use to forecast the weather!
How does climate change affect the weather?
Climate change means we’re likely to experience extreme weather conditions more often, such as heatwaves, floods, and storms. The hotter weather associated with climate change can have serious consequences.
For example, the increased temperatures in the Arctic have led to the melting of polar ice caps, severely affecting the animals and people living there.
Extreme weather around the world
In the UK, we are fortunate to have relatively temperate weather mostly. This means weather that doesn’t get too hot or too cold. So although you may feel like it rains a lot, the rain is spread out across the year rather than all falling in a couple of months, like during monsoon seasons in other parts of the world. We also don’t experience very many extreme weather events, although parts of the country suffer flooding, especially in winter.
As climate change continues to develop worldwide, we will likely experience more extreme weather in the UK. This includes hotter summers, more flooding, and loss of our coastline.
Here are some types of extreme weather that you might hear about from different parts of the world:
- Tornadoes – A type of extreme weather experienced across the world. They consist of vertical funnels of spinning air that move at excessive speeds. The United States of America experiences the most tornadoes each year, which can be very dangerous and deadly.
- Floods – When there is heavy rainfall for a long time, it can lead to floods. Many countries worldwide experience flooding, including The Philippines, India, Vietnam, France, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom.
- Thunderstorms – Storms vary in intensity, with some being relatively harmless and others causing mass destruction. Thunderstorms are a type of storm which involve thunder and lightning. Each bolt of lightning can contain one billion volts of electricity!