Weather is climate here and now, and climate is weather over the long term. Climate is the large scale process of movement of air and water, and changes in the properties of air and water, on and near the surface of the Earth, the atmosphere, oceans, and ice fields respond to the imbalance of heat — with more of it near the equator and less of it at the poles — as the world literally turns. Weather is the local, temporal, and personally observable sign of that climate system. Climate is meaning and weather is the semiotic process by which we understand that meaning.
OK, perhaps I’ve gone too far with the semiotics.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure that the number one way in which change in the climate system, that change caused over several decades of release of greenhouse gasses (and other changes) by humans, is understood by people is through the observation and experience of weather. All the data from NOAA and other earth-watching science agencies, all those excellent blog posts about this or that piece of research, all the great talks by the top climate scientists don’t amount to a hill of beans when compared to a long lasting killer heat wave, a devastating hurricane, a swarm of town-smashing tornadoes, or a vast flooding event. Not so much one event, but the obvious and undeniable increase in frequency of such events.
Climate Signals is one of those great ideas that addresses a basic need using a compelling approach. Climate Signals, currently in Beta form, is a data base of climate events, with geographical information, and highly structured information linking these events to research, indicating climate change connections with varying degrees of certainty, news reports, and all the other information one might want about those events.
I believe Climate Signals will become a significant go-to source for journalists writing about climate, as well as policy makers and even scientists who want to make reference to specific events and get those references right.
Climate change affects us all. Through the use of mapping, Climate Signals shows what climate change looks like on the ground, in your region, state, or neighborhood and identifies the long-term climate trends and physical processes that may be at work.
You should go to the Climate Signals website and browse around. Give them feedback. Send the link to friends and foes. I’m going to make it part of my daily reading.