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What is the difference between a meteorologist and a climatologist?

Dear Tom,

You are a meteorologist but you occasionally refer to others as climatologists. What is the difference between a meteorologist and a climatologist?

Clover O’Rourke,
Crystal Lake

Dear Clover,

A meteorologist uses scientific principles to understand, explain, observe or forecast the Earth’s atmospheric phenomena and/or how the atmosphere affects the Earth and life on the planet. A climatologist studies weather conditions averaged over a long period of time. Meteorology focuses on short-term weather events lasting up to a few weeks, whereas climatology studies the frequency and trends of those events. It studies the periodicity of weather events over years or longer. Climatologists study the nature of climates locally and globally and the natural and human-induced factors that cause climates to change.

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