Grade 8 Social Studies
Weather and Climate
Value: 10%
In this experiment you will investigate patterns and variations (changes) of weather and
climate in your local area by comparing historical weather data for your city.
What is the difference between climate and weather?
Weather is very dynamic, and may change many times from day to day or from season to
season. Changes in weather take place over a relatively short period of time, like hours or
days. A sudden thunderstorm, a blizzard, or a hot day are all examples of weather.
Climate, on the other hand, is historically very stable, and describes weather patterns of
many years in a particular region. Climatic change takes place over long periods of time,
like several years or decades. Some types of climatic changes occur over even longer
periods of time, like hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years. In fact the Great Ice
Age is one example of a period of climatic change.
In this experiment you will investigate the difference between weather and climate by
using a historical weather database. How are changes in weather and climate measured?
By tracking changes in temperature from month-to-month and year-to-year, you can test
for patterns in weather and climate. Which is the most dynamic? Which is the most
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
To do this type of experiment you should know what the following terms mean. Have an
adult help you search the Internet, or take you to your local library to find out more!
degrees Fahrenheit (°F)
degrees Celsius (°C)
weather station
In this experiment we will use a free online database to search for historical
weather data. You can find almost any type of weather information at this site,
including radar and satellite images, astronomical data and star charts, storm
warnings, forecasts and more! Check it out:
When you hear a storm advisory on your TV or radio, it comes from Environment
Canada. Environment Canada provides weather data and storm advisories for
floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and thunderstorms across Canada. See a
real satellite image of weather over Canada:
Materials and Equipment
computer with Internet connection
pencil and paper for recording data
Experimental Procedure
1. You will be using the Internet to look up historical temperature data from your
local area, so grab a pencil and paper to write down your data.
2. Now, get on your computer, connect to the Internet and open up your Web
3. Type the URL, or Web address, for "The Weather Network" website into the
navigation bar:
4. Under “City Search” in the top left-hand corner. Type in Chester, NS and press
the “Enter” key.
5. Research the average temperature for the calendar months during the years 20012005 and record them in the table below.
6. At the bottom of your screen you will see a Historical Data bar. Enter the month
and year you are researching and click “Submit”. Record the “MEAN TEMP” in
your table above.
7. After you collect data from each month and year, you are ready to make graphs
and to look for any trends. You will want to make at least two types of graphs.
Choose a year and graph the temperatures for each month of that year. Choose a
month and graph all of the temperatures for each year of data.
8. Has the average temperature for your area decreased or increased over the years?
Has the average temperature fluctuated or remained constant from month-tomonth or year-to-year? Are there any recurring patterns or cycles? Do these
changes reflect changes in weather or climate?
Average Temperature for Each Calendar Month
During the Years 2001-2005:
Additional Questions:
On a piece of looseleaf answer the following questions neatly:
Try using your data to identify the four seasons. Do the different season's show
different temperature changes in your local area? Which seasons are more stable,
and which seasons fluctuate? What historical trends do you see? Are the cycles of
the season's more similar to weather or to climate?
This experiment relies on the accuracy of your local weather station, and the
reliability of data posted on the Internet. How do you think that temperature data
you collect on your own would compare to your local weather station?
Have you ever lived somewhere else, or does someone you know live far away
from you? Try comparing weather data from two different places on the same
dates. How do the local climates compare? Do the two locations have the same
weather patterns and seasons?
Did this year seem unusually rainy, or snowy, or dry? Sometimes, weather can be
unusual compared to the average, or normal, weather history and can set a
historical record. Use the Internet to research unusual weather history in your
area. What year was there a drought, record rainfall with flooding, or a severe