The term ‘weather’ refers to the day-to-day temperature, rainfall, cloud cover, humidity etc experienced in a given location. Weather is a short-term phenomenon and is used to describe daily through to monthly conditions. The weather maps that you see on the news provide us with a snapshot of the state of the atmosphere at any given time and give us information as to the likelihood of different weather events in a particular place. The weather is very variable and can change dramatically from day to day.

Darwin daily rainfall, 2011.

The term ‘climate’ refers to the long term patterns of weather experienced within a region. Climate is a long-term phenomenon. Typically, a minimum of 30 years of weather data is used to produce a ‘climatology’ (a description of climate in a given area). Where data is available, longer datasets can be used to produce climatologies going back tens of thousands of years. Climatologies typically smooth data over long periods of time in order to see long-term trends and variability occurring within a region. The rainfall climatology below shows us the average rainfall experienced in each month in Darwin over the last 70 years. The individual days of heavy rain or low rainfall we see above are averaged out, providing us with an idea of the typical monthly rainfall distribution in Darwin.

Darwin rainfall climatology, 1941-2012.