Climatology is the study of climates. You may have also heard about meteorology. Is there a difference? Yes. Meteorologists focus on forecasting weather. They look at a few basic atmospheric interactions and hope to predict the weather in the next few days. Climatologists take a much larger view of the whole climate/weather idea. They look at how climates are created and what they do to the environment. It is a long-term study of the geographic world.

Changing Climates

As we said, climatology is a long-term field of study. Do climates change? Yes. Climates may undergo large permanent changes and short-term changes. If you use the rainforest as an example, look at the annual temperatures. They vary in a specific way. If you cut down all of the trees in the forest, the temperatures will heat up. Since it is unlikely the forest will be able to grow back for hundreds of years, you would see a long-term climate change.

Short-term climate changes occur also, as seen with an example like El Niño. El Niño occurs every few years and increases winter rainfall on the west coast of North America. This phenomenon is not a specific part of the climate type; it is a localized variation in the climate.

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