The Science Behind the Earth’s Climate

The Science Behind the Earth’s Climate

The insider

It has been months since we have tackled on issues relating to climate extremes, as such El Niño literally paved the way into a wide spectrum of discussions between experts and lay people for months on end, but we have yet to explore the inner workings of the unpredictable fact of life – the weather, including the basic impacts to our daily lives. This time, we will cover the importance of understanding how climate drives the weather pattern at a particular time and place and how it plays out with other climate systems around us. We will also talk about the earth’s climate drivers too, with respect to how complex it is and how it affects our day-to-day activity.

Weather

First things first, we talk about Weather since it is easy to relate with. Weather is defined as the state of the atmosphere, mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities. It also consists of short-term (minutes to days) variations in the atmosphere, like the amount of sunlight we get through solar radiation, temperature, humidity, air pressure, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind.

Climate

When we mention Climate, we are talking about a broader scale of the earth’s climate system. By definition, Climate refers to the varying aspects of the atmosphere – hydrosphere – land surface system. The concept of Climate is being 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 average quantities.

Other factors essential to climate

With climate already defined, let’s take a quick background check on the more important factors involved:

First, the Atmosphere. The earth’s gravitational pull holds this gaseous envelope around its celestial body, which also consists of different properties. The earth’s atmosphere consists of nitrogen, oxygen and all the more vital component – water. This enables intricate cloud structures to form almost effortlessly as we often see everyday. They differ in shape and size by height and rate of ascension accorded to the amount of heat transfer that is being involved, all thanks to sensible heating processes derived from sunlight.

Little has been known even to this day about this equally important aspect of the earth’s structure we call, Hydrosphere. It is the water portion of the earth as distinguished from the solid part, called the Litosphere, and from the gaseous envelope, called the atmosphere.  The hydrosphere covers snow, ice and glaciers on the earth’s surface, while it consists of water vapor, clouds, and all forms of precipitation up in the atmosphere.

Lastly, the Land surface system which refers to the complexity of the earth’s genetic makeup, both on a geological and hydrological standpoint. It also refers to the processes involving control of water and energy fluxes between continental surfaces and the atmosphere, as well as the interaction of water and carbon cycles.

The earth’s climate system simulate the interaction between its physical climate and the biosphere, which also involves the chemical composition of its land features, the atmosphere, and oceans. We will dig deeper into this on our next discussion.

weather-vs-climate

El Niño Update

The latest International Research Institute (IRI) El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecast published on the 9th of May suggests that the Weak El Niño continues to persist in the tropical Pacific with a steady decline well into the third and last quarter of 2019.

The report also shows that April and May indicators stood at 89% and 80% respectively. The study covers both expert human judgment and model output, the agency said. It is needless to say that 2019 is an El Niño year which brings varying cycles and impact all around the globe. The challenges of these complex meteorological phenomenon will test the resolve of communities by employing local adaptation measures, identifying risks through data-driven studies and exploring mitigation potentials on a ground level setting.

Rainy Season

Are we there yet? The answer is no. The signs have already begun to show in the last couple of weeks already, with the constant development of strong thunderstorm activity in and around the country. The rains are caused by intense heating processes over land and oceans, and the shift in wind orientation. We have to anticipate the arrival of a more Southerly to Southwesterly inflow in the coming weeks but do expect intense heat, coupled with high humidity in the atmosphere and the frequent afternoon or evening thunderstorm which bring the threat of occasional severe weather conditions we are all accustomed to. For now, we should welcome any amount of rainfall just to stave off the thirst of the semi-parched land for months already. Stay safe out there!

Being an archipelagic region known for having vagaries in weather, even the most innocent looking weather system could inflict such damage to our community and cost us our lives and even our loved ones. With this, we should all be ready not just with our rain gear, but with the mindset that now is the time to be more wary of possible sudden changes in the weather be it cold or warm, having typhoon or not. This will enable us to maximize knowledge and moving forward, building a #WeatherWiser nation we all aim to achieve.

Interested about being #WeatherWiser? Contact us at weatherwiser@weatherph.org.


–By Adonis S. Manzan
Typhoon Specialist, WeatherPhilippines Foundation, Inc.
Reference:
https://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/maproom/ENSO/ENSO_Info.html
http://glossary.ametsoc.org/wiki/El_ni%C3%B1o
http://glossary.ametsoc.org/wiki/Climate
http://glossary.ametsoc.org/wiki/Hydrosphere

©2019 WeatherPhilippines Foundation

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