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Weather refers to short-term manifestations of atmospheric activity, and includes events such as wind, rain, and storms—we experience weather as wet or dry, warm or cold, windy or calm. Climate is the overall pattern of weather conditions in a place, and includes both predictable seasonal changes in each year, and extreme weather conditions and events over a longer timeframe. A region's climate and weather both derive from its latitude and elevation, its topography and landforms, and the movement of heat and moisture in the earth's atmosphere.

The two most important aspects of climate are precipitation and temperature. Patterns of precipitation—the timing, amount, and form—and the range of temperatures characteristic of a region affect the growth of vegetation, the development of soils, changes in landforms, animal life, and the availability of water. These in turn affect the way humans interact with the environment for shelter, food, clothing, and water.

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