UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is silent on “Climate” and science abuse a layman’s term.

1. Introduction

  • The state of the atmosphere, mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities [1]. (American Meteorological Society Glossary, AMS)
  • Climate refers to conditions of the atmosphere at a particular location over a long period of time; it is the long-term summation of the atmospheric elements (and their variations) [2]. (Encyclopædia Britannica)
  • Climate change is a long-term shift in the statistics of the weather (including its averages) [3]. ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA)
  • Climate system comprises the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the surface lithosphere and the biosphere [4]. (World Meteorology Organisation, WMO)
  1. Pro-Weather: humid air, low air pressure, ocean space; and
  2. Anti-Weather: dry air, high air pressure, continental space.
  • Climate is the description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area [9].
  • “the authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources” (WMO-Homepage, 1st paragraph),
  • “For meteorology (weather and climate) operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences” (WMO-Homepage, 2nd paragraph).
  • Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.
  • The atmospheric component of the climate system most obviously characterises climate;
  • Climate is generally defined as average weather, and as such, climate change and weather are intertwined.
  • While weather and climate are closely related, there are important differences;
  • The chaotic nature of weather makes it unpredictable beyond a few days.
  • Weather is basically the way the atmosphere is behaving, mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities, and that there are “really a lot of components” to weather, which include sunshine, rain, cloud cover, wind, hail, snow, sleet, freezing rain, flooding, blizzards, ice storms, thunderstorms, steady rain from a cold front or warm front, excessive heat, heat waves and more.
  • “The slowly varying aspects of the atmosphere–hydrosphere–land surface system; typically characterized in terms of suitable averages of the climate system over periods of a month or more, taking into consideration the variability in time of these averaged quantities” [16].
  • Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space. An easy way to remember the difference is that climate is what you expect, like a very hot summer, and weather is what you get, like a hot day with pop-up thunderstorms.
  • Weather: “Atmospheric condition at any given time or place. Compared with climate”; while
  • A term “climate” was not listed in the glossary, (when visiting the site in May 2010 and August 2011), whereas
  • Climatology is described as: “Science dealing with climate and climate phenomena” (without explaining “climate phenomena”).

3.3 The UNFCCC terminology

  • For the purposes of this Convention: “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
  • For the purposes of this Convention: “Climate system” means the totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere and their interactions.
  • Meteorology — The study of the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of the earth’s atmosphere, including the related effects at the air–earth boundary over both land and the oceans, as Ref. [1]. (AMS-Glossary).
  • Atmospheric sciences encompass the study of all physical and chemical phenomenon occurring within the Earth’s atmosphere or the atmosphere of any other planet [18]. (University of British Columbia).
  • Atmospheric science is the study of the atmosphere — the blanket of air covering the Earth. Atmospheric scientists study the atmosphere’s physical characteristics, motions, and processes, and the way in which these factors affect the rest of our environment. The best-known application of this knowledge is forecasting the weather [19]. (U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics)
  • Atmospheric Physics. The atmospheric phenomena observed on Earth and other planets range over various scales and involve various physical processes, such as dynamical, radiative and cloud physical ones [20]. (The University of Tokyo).
  • Atmospheric sciences. The comprehensive study of the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of the earth’s atmosphere, from the earth’s surface to several hundred kilometers; this usually includes atmospheric chemistry, aeronomy, magnestospheric physics, and solar influence on the entire region [21]. (AMS-Glossary)

4. What is the Problem?

4.2 Climate

4.3 Climate Change & Climate System

4.4 Climate System





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Dr. Arnd Bernaerts

Dr. Arnd Bernaerts


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