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Weather for Wine Lovers

Weather for Wine Lovers

Q: What did the grape say when summer came to an end?

A: He didn’t say anything. He just let out a little wine.

Sometimes, in the controversial world of adult beverages, the community of wine lovers is often associated with a good deal of snobbery. In a world where “luxury wines” can fetch $50-$100 a bottle and $200 bottles are not unheard of, some snobbery is to be expected, but it is also unfortunate.

Wine Snobbery |

In the age of antiquity, wine was more associated with happiness than a snobbish fetish. Even today, you will be able to find some surprisingly good (even great) wines in the aisles of your local mega-mart which can be enjoyed responsibly without breaking the family budget.

Fun the Old Fashioned Way

The dawn of civilization occurred when mankind moved from a wandering hunter/gatherer existence and began settling in a fixed location to raise crops. These crops are generally associated with bread making but there is a growing belief in the anthropological community that the earliest villages were more likely to be the home of beer and winemakers than bakers.

Wine making is a natural process which will occur whenever fruit juice is kept under the right conditions. A yeast spore may land and create a colony which consumes the sugar in the juice. The byproducts of this process (called fermentation) are carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.

The effects of alcohol appeared to be a sort of magic to ancient man, so it is natural that he would be willing to give up the freedom of a nomad life to make more wine.

Weather for Wine Lovers 1 |

A Product of Nature

Alcohol can also be produced by fermenting the sugars in cereal grains to make beer through a process called brewing. Brewing is a more technical process and usually, has faster and more reliable results. Both methods will result in a tasty beverage with intoxicating effects, but some people are beer people and others are wine people.

Brewing beer |

There is a story in the craft brewing community about a monastery in Belgium which sent several bottles of their spring brew to the Holy See in Rome to find out if it would be alright for them to drink during Lent. The wine-drinking Latins in Rome opened a bottle, took a taste, determined that the monks must be drinking the stuff as a form of penance, and gave their blessing.

Any fruit juice which is acidic but not too acidic, has the right balance of tannins and nutritive salts to support yeast growth, and sugar can become wine, but the perfect combination seems to occur naturally in grape juice. One of the first things that winemakers of antiquity did was select the varieties of grape which were the hardiest for their area, and which formed the most sugar during the growing season. Growing conditions change from year to year, of course, depending upon the weather, which in modern times has resulted in the concept of vintage years.

Although creating a fine wine is a time-consuming process, a certain vintage is not preferable just because it is old, but if a certain year had an especially long and mild summer, allowing the grape crop to be even more sweet and healthy, that year’s vintage will be considered more valuable.

A concept almost as important than vintage to marketing wine is terroir. Each region of the world where grapes are grown is subject to greater or lesser differences in climate, soil, length of daylight, and farming practices.

how terrior affects grapes

Terroir is a French term which shares its root with territory or land. The elements of terroir combine to influence the taste of wines from different regions. It is difficult to say whether the terroir of one region is, in fact, superior to that of another, but the farmers and winemakers from that region would like you to believe it is.

Weather for Wine Lovers or Not…

Location, soil conditions, elevation, and climate do not really change for an individual vineyard from year to year, but weather for wine lovers can vary a great deal. Some who are new to the concept of terroir might be tempted to point out that climate and weather are basically the same things. However, climate is a description of the conditions a region expects over a long period of time, along with other factors, while weather is what is happening at any particular moment. In other words, climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.

terrior effects in grapes |

One of the best ways to appreciate the weather for wine lovers in a different region is to learn to understand the weather conditions where you live. The conditions you see outside your living room window will vary according to whether you live in the middle of the continent or near the shore of an ocean, whether you are in the middle of a broad plain or near a tall mountain range, or whether you are in the Northern States or closer to the Southern border. These are climatic considerations, of course, but they affect the weather in your region every day.

A personal weather station is a terrific way to begin understanding the weather in your area, and that will lead to a greater understanding of how weather works for wine lovers in the various wine regions of the world.

 Weather for Wine Lovers 5 |

The fact that you and your neighbors experienced an early frost this year may not seem related to late season conditions in the Napa Valley, but understanding your local weather for wine lovers is a key to appreciating the terroir of another area.

Monitoring your local weather for a few months using a system like the Davis Vantage Vue Wireless 6250 or the Ambient Weather WS-2902C WiFi Smart Weather Station  is a fun yet in-depth weather education for the whole family. Observing how conditions change from day to day puts your finger on the pulse of Mother Nature, and is a key to appreciating the mysterious way the natural world works. Best of all, these systems are easy to install and use, so you can begin learning almost immediately.

Not Sunny All the Time

Weather for Wine Lovers 2 |

Although most wine regions are known for their long, mild, and sunny weather conditions, one of the most interesting types of wine is the result of the growing season coming to a sudden close. The German term is eiswein or ‘ice wine’. It is in the wine maker’s best interest to wake until the grapes have reached their peak maturity when they are the sweetest before harvesting and pressing, thereby having more sugar in the grapes.

In some Northern regions, an early frost may set in before the grapes are harvested. Rather than ruining the vintage, the freezing of the grapes concentrates the sugars, resulting in a sweet dessert wine. The bottling of an eiswein is a rather special event. The vintner expects to bottle a normal vintage, of course. If he plans for an eiswein harvest, he runs the risk of the grapes rotting on the vine.

Eiswein may not be on the radar for traditional wine snobs, but it is a special enough treat to be aware of and just one of the ways that the weather rewards wine lovers. 

What Have you Learned? |

    • Although there are many wines that sell for $50-$100 or even more per bottle, there are plenty of very good inexpensive wines available if you are willing to learn how to find them.
    • Many anthropologists believe that the dawn of agriculture was not so that early man could make bread, it occurred so that he could make beer and wine.
    • Wine is an agricultural product which is made by the natural process of fermenting fruit juices, usually grape.
    • Since it is an agricultural product, the weather from year to year has an important impact on the quality of the wine in the bottle.
    • Terroir is the concept that products grown in certain regions are unique due to differences in climate, soil conditions, elevation, latitude, and weather.
    • Understanding weather is important to understanding terroir because it has such a huge influence on wine.
    • Using a personal weather station at home will help you to understand weather in the great wine-growing regions.
    • Eiswein is a special product which can only be made in years when an early frost freezes the grapes and concentrates their sugars.
Autumn Weather Phenomena

Autumn Weather Phenomena

It is easy to understand why many people would list autumn weather as their favorite time of the year. Although by outward appearance, Nature seems to simply be preparing for the big sleep of winter, there is a lot going on during the autumn months.

In agricultural communities, autumn is the season of harvest.

The crops have been tended since planting in the spring, irrigated and cultivated through the long, hot summer, and it is finally time to enjoy the fruits of those long months of labor. Many of the great fall festivals, like Oktoberfest in its many forms and the American Traditional Thanksgiving Feast, are harvest celebrations.

On the sporting front, all those summer evenings spent cheering for your favorite baseball club eventually climax in the Fall Classic of the World Series, and Football stretches from the sweaty, dehydrating workouts of training camp in the late summer, through the autumn weekends, and will have its dramatic wrap-up during the first cold of the early winter. For outdoor sportsmen, the wildlife who gave birth has had all winter to grow healthy on the abundant plant growth through the summer months and is now at its fattest and healthiest stage of the year. Most deer species go into the rut during this time of year when the healthiest males are best equipped to pass their genes to the next generation. This time of year while the whole game animal population is at its peak of health when hunters go into the woods, hoping to harvest a freezer full of meat for the lean months ahead.

What Causes Fall?

Autumn Weather Phenomena 03 | WeatherStationary

Autumn is a time of transition between the warmth of summer and the cold of winter, which makes the concept of Indian Summer all the more precious. European immigrants named the phenomena for the North American Indians whose land they were settling, elsewhere it is known as “altweibersommer” (Old women’s summer), or “gypsy summer”. Although The Old Farmer’s Almanac has tried to tie Indian Summer to the calendar, saying “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s (November 11) brings out Indian summer,” the condition is better described as a period of warm weather which occurs after the first hard frost of the season. While the killing frost signals the end of the gardening season, it also triggers a number of other seasonal biological changes.

The drop in daily average temperature we notice in the autumn is a result of shortening daylight hours. This occurs because the axes upon which the planet Earth spins is set at an angle relative to the path the planet travels around the Sun. At the Winter and Summer Solstice, the South pole (during the Northern winter) or the North Pole (during Northern Summer) is pointed directly at the Sun at a tilt of 23°. At the Spring and Autumnal Equinox, the tilt is perpendicular to the Sun.

The tilt away from the Sun as the Sun moves from Autumnal Equinox to the Winter Solstice is the reason for the shorter daylight hours and shorter days also mean that the Sun does not have as long to heat the Earth’s surface.

Many people say that the Equinox is the beginning of autumn, but when you begin to see the signs of fall will depend on upon conditions in your local region. The days actually begin getting shorter after the summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and when you see the signs of autumn will depend upon how far North you are as well as your elevation above sea level.

Winter is Coming

Autumn Weather Phenomena 02 | WeatherStationary

One important phenomenon associated with the change in the color of fall foliage. Although many plants simply die with the coming of winter, deciduous trees have evolved a strategy dropping their leaves and going into a dormant state until spring. When the spring brings more sunlight and higher temperatures, new leaves filled with chlorophyll provide energy for the tree to flower, grow fruit and seeds, as well as woody growth as the tree increases in size. At the end of the growing season, rather than spend the energy to keep the leaves alive the tree simply lets them die and fall off, knowing that newer, stronger ones will grow in the spring.

The spectacular yellow and orange hues we associate with autumn are actually present in the leaf all the time in the form of carotenoids. These compounds are masked by the chlorophyll. The deep green of the chlorophyll is used to convert water and carbon dioxide into the simple sugars which feed the tree. As daily temperatures drop, the veins in the leaf which carry water to the chlorophyll are blocked, and as the green fades, the carotenoids become visible. Other colors, such as reds and purples, occur as the sugar making process, which requires a great deal of phosphate, breaks down. As the phosphates break down, pigments called anthocyanins are formed. These are the same pigments which are present in cranberries, red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums.


One commonly accepted sign that autumn is coming to a close and that winter is about to arrive is the first heavy snowfall of the season. Like the other signs of autumn we have discussed, snowfall depends upon several factors, including how far north a certain location is, the altitude, and the weather patterns that particular year. Snow is made up of individual crystals of frozen water and most precipitation throughout the year begins as snowflakes.

When water vapor in the air rises through the atmosphere, the vapor and the air carrying it cool with the increase in altitude. When the temperature drops to the dew point, the moisture begins to condense on dust particles carried in the air.

As the air continues to rise and the temperature drops further, the super-cooled moisture clinging to the particle begins to crystallize. The crystalline structure of the snowflake means it will be relatively light for the space it occupies, but eventually, enough ice will form that the flake will begin to fall towards earth.

For most of the year, as the flakes fall they go through warmer air causing the ice crystals to melt. The melted-crystal will usually continue to fall as liquid rain, although during a thunderstorm it may be blown several times back to a higher altitude where it refreezes to form a hailstone. During the late autumn and winter months, the entire air column is often cold enough that the frozen water remains in crystalline form until it reaches the ground. Since the crystal is so light compared to a denser water drop, the flakes may be blown by the wind into drifts. The longer snow sits on the ground without melting, the denser it becomes as the crystal is crushed by its own weight and the weight of the snowflakes on top of it.

The presence of snow contributes to the coldness of the territory since the energy from the sun during the shorter daylight hours in late autumn weather is reflected away rather than being absorbed by the underlying ground.

Autumn Travel

Travel in the months between the heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter has its own cautions and considerations. Motorists especially need to keep in mind the shortening of daylight hours. Twilight comes earlier, and one of the effects of Indian Summer is an increased haziness due to high atmospheric pressures and the lack of wind. This can play havoc on a driver’s visibility.

As the days get shorter the ground absorbs less heat from the sun, and overnight temperatures can drop to the dew point earlier, and continue to fall until the frost point. Road surfaces which have not been cleaned may have a slight covering of oil and dirt, and combined with frosty conditions can make traction questionable in the early morning hours. Crossing mountain passes this time of year calls for extra caution and planning because of the danger of a sudden snowstorm.


For centuries of human existence, autumn has signaled the need to be prepared for the coming winter. Crops had to be harvested and stored, hunters needed to gather and process meat, and individual homesteads needed put in a supply of firewood to get through the winter. The same attitude should be part of an autumn traveler’s plans. During the hour before and after sunset, try to stay off the road when visibility is at its worst. Keep supplies in your vehicle in case you become stuck, in fact, carrying some extra snacks is a good idea for air travel as well because a late autumn blizzard at one hub can affect the entire system.

Everyone Talks About the Autumn Weather…

The dog days of summer inevitably give way to the darkness and cold of winter, just as winter fades into the glorious rebirth of spring. A terrific way to appreciate the progression of the seasons is to observe your local conditions using weather measuring instruments. Mounting a weather station sensor suite outside is a simple addition to your other autumn weather chores, and being able to track daily conditions as they change can be a lot of fun. As winter approaches and you are better used to watching conditions, you will be better able to predict weather changes which will affect your family and their safety. You can even make your station part of a personal weather station network which will help to predict storm patterns and tornado conditions.

A home weather station like the AcuRite 01024 Pro Weather Station system gives your family scientific grade instrumentation which can be connected to your PC and the Internet. The sensor suite is relatively simple to set up, and wireless connection to the base station means that it will be effortless to connect. The Oregon Scientific WMR200a is a more expensive yet a classic, versatile and expandable system which can grow with your interest in weather monitoring. The separate sensors mean more complexity in setup but allows for easier maintenance and more accuracy in readings.

What Have You Learned | WetaherStationary
  • Autumn means shorter days, cooling temperatures, harvest, hunting, and football.
  • The phenomenon of Indian Summer is a period of warm weather after the first killing frost of the year.
  • The seasonal temperature drop is due to the shorter days which are the result of the Northern Hemisphere being tilted away from the sun.
  • The spectacular display of fall foliage results from tree leaves ceasing the production of chlorophyll. The tree is preparing to enter a dormant state during the winter months, and will not need the energy provided by the leaves until spring.
  • Snowflakes form in clouds year-round, but during late autumn weather and winter, the air at ground level is cool enough for the flake to remain frozen until it hits the ground rather than melting to become a raindrop.
  • During the autumn weather months, travelers need to be prepared for shorter daylight hours, icy road conditions, and rapidly changing weather conditions.
  • Despite the cooling temperatures and less predictable conditions, it is easy to understand why autumn weather is the favorite part of the year for many people. Being able to monitor weather conditions using a home weather station can add to your safety and appreciation of nature throughout the year.
Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

A summer camping trip is almost a rite of passage, but it is so much more than that. Camping is a great way for families of any size to reconnect. There will be plenty of space and things to do for everyone to enjoy the privacy and solitude they will need, but they will also be spending time together. The most important factors for a successful camping trip are location and, gear, weather for your summer camping, and attitude, and the most important ones are the two that no amount of money can change.

summer camping trip

If you have the good fortune to camp in an area with little or no cellular WiFi coverage, the family will have turn to each other for entertainment, and will probably be delightfully surprised with how much they like one another.

Learning to appreciate nature is the usual selling point for a camping trip, but the real value of spending time away from home is learning to appreciate the comforts of home.

This doesn’t mean that you should be roughing it. That attitude is OK for military units on maneuvers or boy scouts seeking adventure, but it can sour the experience for some family members. Rather than roughing it, the family camping trip should be an exercise in smoothing it. No, you may never be able to completely recreate all of the comforts of home, but with a little creativity and surprisingly little money you can come close. Even if you don’t, everyone can have a lot of fun trying together.

Some fear that camping is out of reach for their family because it is such an expensive pastime, and it is certainly possible to invest a small fortune in your kit, not to mention traveling to your camping destination. However, just about every city-dweller in America lives within a couple hour’s drive of a National Forest or BLM land (where it is free to camp) or a scenic state park, and at the end of the day, the trees and the squirrels are not going to care if your gear is old, improvised, used, or just out of fashion.

Take the Weather with You

The most important factors for a successful camping trip are location and, gear, weather for your summer camping, and attitude, and the most important ones are the two that no amount of money can change. Attitude is arguably the most important ingredient, if you and your family are ready to have fun, then you will, but there are few things that can sour attitudes faster than rotten weather.

The weather campers or anyone else for that matter, is a combination of wind, temperature, and rain. A more scientifically accurate picture would be wind, temperature, and moisture because this considers humidity as well as precipitation. The thought that your precious camping time can be ruined because of rainy conditions is obvious, but the moisture in the air can make life even more miserable. Conditions which are too dry have a measurable effect on the safety as well as the comfort of the camping experience so it’s  better to know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip.

There’s Something in the Air: Water!

Know your Weather - 02, Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

Humidity is a measurement of how much moisture is in the air. We learned in elementary school science classes that water can exist in all three states of matter, as solid ice, liquid water, or as a gaseous vapor. If there is a possibility of temperatures being cold enough for ice to form, it is probably too cold for most of us to consider a camping trip; cold weather camping offers some unique rewards for more experienced campers, but warm weather makes a better impression on beginning outdoors people.

Liquid water will readily turn into vapor (evaporate) if the temperature and humidity are right, and when it does it causes a cooling effect. This is how the human body regulates internal temperature through perspiration; evaporating sweat carries away excess body temperature. In conditions of high relative humidity, which is to say that the air is holding as much moisture as it can, evaporation stops, and with it the cooling effect of perspiration. This can lead to a dangerous situation with the possibility of heat stroke during heavy physical activity. Nights in a tent can become insufferably long when you are unable to get to sleep because you are sweating all night so it’s better to know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip..

‘At Least It’s a Dry Heat…’

Folks living in the East find it hard to imagine suffering through the incredible desert heat of the American West, but the people who live their counter that it is a “dry heat”. This means that because the air is dry, the body’s cooling mechanism of evaporating perspiration works very efficiently. However, for campers, these low humidity levels bring a very real danger of forest fire.

Once you move inland of the coastal mountains, most of the American West is a desert or semi-desert region. This does not mean that there is no precipitation, in fact, many of the most popular areas for camping receive enough winter and springtime rains to allow terrific wildflower and plant growth. However, as the summer progresses, the rainfall ceases and the daytime temperatures rise, causing all of this plant life to die off and become tinder-dry.

Know your Weather - 03, Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

All this dry plant matter will need is a spark to burst into a wildfire. Nature provides plenty of these sparks with the late summer thunderstorms that come every year, but the real danger is thought to come from careless campers and other humans using the forest.

The phenomena of thunderstorms are closely related to the concept of relative humidity.

The warmer air passing over the desert mountains can carry a good deal of moisture, but as that air increases in temperature, it rises in the atmosphere. Temperature drops as the air rises, soon reaching the “dew point”, the temperature where the water vapor begins to condense and form thunderclouds. The condensing moisture causes a drop in pressure, and more cool air begins to rush into the cloud. The air molecules rubbing against each other sets up a static electrical charge which can discharge as lightning.

Your Electronic Crystal Ball

A little bit of research before your adventure begins can save your camping experience from the worst of weather-related problems. If it is going to be hot and muggy in your region, select a campsite at a higher, cooler elevation. Most Forest Service Ranger Stations will display the wildfire danger for the local area, find out what it is and take appropriate precautions. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts for the area around your selected campsite, and keep in mind that it might be better to cancel the trip than for your family to be stuck for the weekend, trapped inside a confining tent.

The problem with most general forecasts is that they tend to cover a wide region and focus on where most of the affected people will be (the very people that you might be planning on going into the hills to get away from). Mountainous regions where we find the best camping tend to have many “micro-climates” where the actual weather has little to do with what is predicted in a regional forecast. Local data is what you need.

For decades, every Forest Service Ranger Station had a collection of weather measuring instruments and a Ranger was assigned to record the readings from the analog instruments and forward the data to headquarters so that the local wildfire danger could be determined. Today, we can get all of the same information and can Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip from portable wind meters. The simplest of these weather measuring instruments, like the WeatherHawk WM-100 WindMate show little more than wind speed, direction, and temperature, which is very useful in making a weather prediction, but more sophisticated devices like the WeatherHawk WM-350 WindMate are also able to display relative humidity information which is used for fire danger calculation as well as heat-index and wind-chill data that relates to weather-related personal comfort, safety and for knowing the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip.

WeatherHawk WM-100 WindMate – Basic portable wind meter

WeatherHawk WM-100 WindMate

WeatherHawk WM-350 WindMate – Advanced portable wind meter

WeatherHawk WM-350 WindMate

Staying in Touch

It is natural when you get to the woods for everyone to want to go their separate directions. Of course, mothers who panic if they are not able to track their children’s cell phones may have a problem letting their youngsters out of their sight in the big, scary forest. In reality, there are far fewer dangers for them to run into outdoors away from the big city. Everyone’s fears can be further set aside by putting a set of family band radios to use, like the Motorola T460 or the Uniden GMR5099-2CKHS.

The Family Radio Service Bands have been in use since 1996, and they are very appropriate for families to keep in touch with each other since the UHF-FM bands they use are the same ones employed by household baby monitors! Many family band radios are set up as FRS/GMRS hybrids with 22 channels.

Operating on the General Mobile Radio Service Bands requires a license from the FCC, but the bands which are shared by the FMS/GMRS services are set at a low power on family band radios, so they can be used without a license.

Most family band radios will also feature weather bands which carry forecasts and alerts from the NOAA. This can be important because just about everything that you will want to do while you are camping is weather dependent. This is not to say that you cannot have fun when it is wet and miserable, some of the best camping memories come from the times that the family was stuck together, playing cards all weekend inside the tent. However, there is potential for a lot more fun if the weather is good, and with proper notification, you can “bug-out” before conditions turn from miserable too dangerous.

Bringing It All Together

  • Camping can be a fun and inexpensive adventure to bring families closer together.
  • ‘Roughing It’ may not be a lot of fun for new campers when learning how to ‘Smooth It’ generally takes a little cooperation and creativity.
  • There are probably great places to camp closer than you think.
  • It is more important for camping gear to be useful than new or fashionable.
  • The most important ingredients for successful family camping trip are location, gear, attitude, and weather.
  • Camping in humid conditions can make it hard to sleep in a tent without proper ventilation, and high humidity can lead to heat stress.
  • Long periods of low humidity raise the danger of wildfire.
  • Full-featured portable wind meters are helpful for being aware of accurate weather conditions near your campsite.
  • Family Band Radios are useful for keeping everyone in touch when they are away from camp and usually, feature NOAA Severe Weather Alerts.
Weather for Kids: Introduction

Weather for Kids: Introduction


This Weather for Kids course is designed for parents to begin teaching their children about the weather and how it affects their world. It is primarily intended as a fun learning experience for both parents and kids, but it has a secondary goal of creating the basis for a life-long interest in science and nature.

Whether this interest grows to the point of further studies and an eventual pursuit of a career or studies in a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field is not important at this point.
What is important is that kids and parents share a sense of discovery as they learn about the world around them.

Weather and Science should be part of the child’s curriculum in school. We feel that by sharing these topics outside of a school environment so the child will have greater enthusiasm towards their lessons.

kids and the weather |

What’s more, this enthusiasm will carry over into other subjects. Children who are raised in an environment where learning for its own sake is encouraged are more likely to have greater success throughout their education. Greater success in school is just the icing on the cake. There are more than seven billion people living on the planet, and every one of them feels the effect of weather.
 weather for kids course |


Talking about the weather has always been one of mankind’s most common conversation topics. We all enjoy nice weather and complain when it is not, but if we understand the weather even a little bit, then frightening and dangerous conditions become less scary. If the child is less scared in a dangerous weather situation, she is more likely to make the correct decisions and stay safe.


Check out the first 5 Chapters of our Weather for Kids Course


Weather for Kids Chapter 1: Why teach your child about weather?

Weather for Kids Chapter 2: What is Weather?

Weather for Kids Chapter 3: Basic Weather Terms

Weather for Kids Chapter 4: Dangerous Weather, Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Lightning

Weather for Kids Chapter 5: Weather vs. Climate

Weather for Kids Chapter 5: Weather and Climate

Weather for Kids Chapter 5: Weather and Climate

In this chapter we will discuss:
  • The difference between weather and climate and how they are related
  • The Five components that generate climate
  • The Köppen climate classification system
  • Climate change

After the TV weather person makes their report and prediction on the local station, many times there will be a short clip about the climate, often with dire warnings of how changes are going to mess everything up and that it is all mankind’s fault. You may have heard people say things like

“The weather is going to be exceptionally hot today, it must be because of global warming” or “We had a really bad winter last year because of climate change”.

These statements can be confusing because weather and climate are related, but they are not the same thing. On the NASA Climate page, it says that

“The difference between Weather and Climate is a measure of time”

and even that is not quite accurate. Comparing weather and climate is not like comparing apples and oranges, nor is it like comparing an orange to a crate full of oranges. It is more like comparing oranges to fruit. In other words, oranges are fruit, and there are many fruits that have a lot in common with oranges, but not all fruit is like an orange.

          Weather for Kids - Chapter 5 - Ice Cracks |

Weather is an important part of climate, and when we classify climates one of the important things to look at is the average weather over an extended period of time. The climate of a certain region is generated by the interaction of five worldwide components:

  • the atmosphere where weather is generated
  • the hydrosphere which is the mass of water found on below and above the planet
  • the cryosphere or regions of solid ice such as the polar caps
  • the lithosphere or rocky outer shell of the planet
  • and the biosphere or the living things on the planet.

The most common way of classifying climates is using the Köppen Climate Classifications. The classifications were first published in 1884 and have been modified several times since. They were originally based on the notion that native vegetation is the best expression of climate.

Weather for Kids - Chapter 5 - Geiger Climate Classification |

The system is divided into five main groups (A, B, C, D, E) and each group is further divided into types. Each climate type may be represented by a 2-4 letter symbol. For example, Miami has an A or Tropical monsoon climate; Denver has a B or Dry Steppe climate with at least one month of average temperatures below freezing, Los Angeles has a C or Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers dominated by subtropical high-pressure systems, and Chicago has a D or Continental climate with the warmest month averaging greater than 72°F. Group E climates are polar and alpine zones.

The Köppen climate classifications are useful for travelers and geography students as well as those studying weather and climate.        

Paleoclimatology is the study of ancient climates and weather patterns before modern record keeping. We know that the worldwide climate has changed many times, just like it is changing now. There are many theories and reasons behind climate change ranging from an “end of the world” scenario caused by pollution and other manmade factors to a natural cycle that would occur no matter what man does.

This is not a forum to debate the various causes of climate change, let alone fix blame. We will just point out that climate change is happening, it has happened before, and species and civilizations who can adapt will survive and thrive.

 Review Quiz:

Weather for Kids - What Have you Learned





  • Q1:What are the five world-wide elements of climate?
  • Q2: What expression of climate are the original Köppen climate classifications based on?
  • Q3: What can the study of paleoclimatology teach us about climate change today?



  • A1: The atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the lithosphere and the biosphere.
  • A2: The system was originally developed by Wladimir Köppen, who was a botanist as well as a climatologist. He based his climate classification system on the observation that certain types of plants grow in certain regions but not in others. In the decades since the Köppen climate classifications has come into use, we have a better understanding of how a saguaro cactus and a live oak tree have different climatic needs, and how climate change over time affects how plants grow and thrive
  • A3: Through paleoclimatology, the study of climate before records were kept, we know that regional and planet wide climates change. These cycles are not entirely predictable, and it is inconclusive how much effect man-made factors have influenced climate change.
Continue to Weather for Kids Chapter 6: How to become a Meteorologist