Climate Concepts: Analogies and Useful Descriptions
Analogies are common educational tools. Complex concepts can become more tangible for students and the public when they are compared to something familiar. For example, atoms are the building blocks of matter; DNA is the blueprint of life.
The collection of analogies and useful descriptions below compare complex climate concepts to familiar events and situations. We hope this will be a useful tool for weathercasters, scientists, educators and others who communicate about climate with the public.
Of course, no analogy is perfect. Analogies should be used to illustrate specific concepts and it may even be useful to point out an analogy’s limitations in order to maintain its credibility. The analogies here have been placed into conceptual categories that are most appropriate for their usage.
This is intended to be a continuously updated resource. If you have a favorite analogy you use to communicate about climate, please share!
Image above: Surface temperature anomalies in 2006, with dark red areas being the warmest spots relative to their 30 year (1951-1980) average temperatures. Image: NASA.
Images are freely available for use on-air, online and in community outreach. Any exceptions will be clearly noted.