Clouds and blue sky - Sam Schooler, Unsplash


What is the difference between weather and climate? How does weather 'work'? What is climate change and why are people concerned about it?


Weather (or meteorological) variables are measured at all ECN terrestrial sites, because weather and climate drive or affect many environmental processes. For example, the climate affects the types of plants found in an area and how they grow. In order to understand how the environment at our monitoring sites is changing, we need a good understanding of the weather and climate at the sites, and we also need to know if the climate at our sites is changing.

Of course, weather and climate don't just influence ECN sites, they affect us all. That's why we created this tutorial to help introduce you to key concepts relating to the weather, climate and climate change. See below for more details about what you can expect to learn.

How to use

The tutorials are arranged in order, and it is best to work through them in sequence. Some tutorials have questions and excercises to help you explore further and test your knowledge. Teachers may wish to refer to the explanatory notes.

Start at Part 1 below. Use the navigation on each page to move between pages.

Please note: Regrettably we have had to remove our interactive data exploration tools. We hope to replace these tools soon, but until then, some links from this tutorial will not work.

What can I expect to learn?

  • The difference between weather and climate
  • Weather science
  • How to interpret weather maps
  • What affects the weather in the UK
  • How and why the climate varies in different parts of the globe
  • What climate change is and what might be causing present day climate change
  • The observed and predicted impacts of climate change
  • Attempts to limit the extent of climate change
  • Ways in which we have to adapt to climate change.

For teachers

[Top of page]


These pages were originally developed by Daniel Jackson, a student at Liverpool Hope University College, as part of a final year BSc (Hons) Geography project. They were updated in 2011 and again in 2021 by Andrew Sier, UKCEH. Information is provided in good faith and is, to the best of our knowledge, correct. If you believe we have made an error, please contact us.