Weather and Climate
By: Dr. William E. Schosser & Hannah Henderson
Every day, we plug into the biggest powerhouse in this galaxy: the sun rises. Our Sun is just a very very big hydrogen bomb. Both uses hydrogen fusion to release energy. Sun is a million billion zillion kazillion ton Hydrogen explosive, whereas one of our anthropogenic Hydrogen Bombs has a few kg of Hydrogen. Because of this, its blast lasts only a few minutes, but a Sun blast lasts for about 10 billion years, out of which 5 billion have passed away. It is the incidence of this powerhouse and our Earthly proximity to it, that we have photonic energy delivered here.
We will discover how its passage through our atmosphere drives water to transition between solid, liquid, and gas as we find it throughout the oceans as a liquid, and sits as solid ice, and of course in the atmosphere as a gas, solid, and liquid.
The Difference Between Weather and Climate
The biggest difference between weather and climate is time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere that occur during a short period of time such as precipitation, temperature, humidity, wind, cloudiness, pressure and other conditions that occur at a specific time and place. Climate, however, is how the atmosphere behaves over long periods of time. It is the average weather for a particular region, and is measured over many years (Schlosser, 2021).
What Determines Climate?
The climate of any particular region can be influenced by a variety of interacting factors. This includes latitude, ocean currents, elevation, topography, vegetation, and prevailing winds. The sun’s radiation also plays a huge role in the Earth’s climate, which is why the tropics are warm and the poles are so cold. All the components of the global climate system conspire and the changes that occur within in it influence the local climates that we observe today. Therefore, climate is easy to predict, because it is solely dependent on the regular fixed features of the Earth.
Climate and Weather Patterns of Kamiak Butte
Kamiak Butte is both a shrubland and a woodland, since the north and south sides of the Butte have different landscapes and biomes. Kamiak Butte is in the Western Hemisphere, resulting in a temperate megaclimate. This region is dry and sub-humid with moderate rainfall but is not considered desert land. Its macroclimate is marine modified as it is dry and receives greater temperature extremes than a coastal region due to its continentality (Zamora, n.d.). The Palouse hills surrounding the butte are known to have distinct seasonal periods, short growing periods, and more moisture due to rain shadow influence. Their summers are hot and dry, and their winters are long, cold, and full of snow. The cold winters are a result of the marine polar air mass, which comes from the Pacific Ocean and over the Cascade Mountains (“Air Masses,” 2019). These air masses effect the macroclimate in different ways. It creates a rain shadow over this region which causes the chances of rain to drop significantly and causes the area to have less humidity (“Rain Shadow”, 2012).
Table 1: Influences of Climate Spatial Scales on the Characters of the Kamiak Butte Ecosystems
Climate/ Spatial Scale
No extreme temperatures or precipitation, distinct seasonal periods.
Drier, greater temperature extremes, a higher proportion of snow, soils with dry periods, and fewer cloudy days.
Moisture due to rain shadow influence, cooler temperatures, more snow, and shorter growing periods.
National Geographic Society. (2012, October 9). Rain Shadow. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/rain-shadow/.
NOAA National Centers for Environmental information, Climate at a Glance: City Time Series, published February 2021, retrieved on February 15, 2021 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/
Schlosser, W.E. (2020). Determining Climate from Weather [Video]. https://youtu.be/WKytL7PxxbU.
Spears, C. (2009). Average Annual Precipitation 1971-2000 Washington. Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.
US Department of Commerce, & Noaa. (2019, August 12). Air Masses. Retrieved from https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/airmass.
Zamora, B. (2018). Climate and its connection to ecology. The Nature of Ecology. Retrieved from Washington State University Natural Resource Ecology Blackboard.