What is weather?
Weather describes the current state of our atmosphere in a specific place.
Weather is always changing because it is affected by many different variables, including temperature, air pressure, cloud formation, wind, humidity and rain.
You can tell the weather by simply looking outside. Weather affects what you choose to wear today, or whether you choose to hang your washing outside. But, it can also have severe impacts on the environment and our livelihoods.
Why is weather important?
Weather can have a big impact on our lives, from flash floods that destroy properties, to soaring temperatures that threaten our health.
Changes in our weather can also affect how we feel mentally, hotter temperatures have been shown to bring more stress and depression, alongside other health problems.
Meanwhile severe weather, also known as high-impact weather, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards can tear apart communities, so it’s vitally important we can predict these weather patterns and reduce their impact.
Because climate change is causing extreme weather to become more intense and more frequent, understanding our weather is now more important than ever.
What is a cold event?
Cold events are a sudden change in temperature that causes extended and extreme cold weather. These types of events often have impact travel, agriculture and emergency services. Like heatwaves, cold snaps have been shown to increase mortality rates.
Scientists think there will be fewer cold temperature extremes as global average temperatures continue to rise.
What is a heatwave?
Heatwaves are a prolonged period of hot weather relative to the temperature usually experienced in an area. Heatwaves sometimes include periods of high humidity too.
Heatwaves usually happen in summer when high pressure weather systems develop over a certain area. These systems are slow moving, meaning they can stay in one area for many days or weeks.
Climate change is making extreme weather, such as heatwaves, more likely to occur. For instance, events such as the summer heatwave of 2018 are estimated to be thirty times more likely now.
What is a drought?
Droughts occur when an area experiences below average rainfall in a period of time.
The lack of rain can lead to crop failures and environmental damage by reducing moisture levels in the soil, increasing the likelihood of forest fires and creating water shortages.
Droughts can reduce access to clean drinking water and cause food shortages if communities are dependent on local agriculture.