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Climate and Climate Change. Chapter 21. Chapter 21.1. What is Climate?. Temperature and Precipitation. Climate is an area’s long-term pattern of weather The two main characteristics of climate are Temperature and Precipitation

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Climate and Climate Change

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temperature and precipitation
Temperature and Precipitation
  • Climate is an area’s long-term pattern of weather
  • The two main characteristics of climate are Temperature and Precipitation
  • Other characteristics are the number of days and hours of sunlight; direction, speed and steadiness of the wind; and occurrence of severe weather
Annual Temperature range is the difference between the average temperature of the warmest month and the average temperature of the coldest month
  • Average Temperature can be misleading.
    • e.g. Average temperature for Beijing, China, and Valdivia, Chile are the same. However, Beijing goes to extremes from –4°C to 26°C while Valdivia ranges from 7°C to 16°C.
Average Precipitation can also be misleading, one place may get all its rain during a few months (Bombay, India) and another over the entire year (Mobile, Alabama)
climate controls
Climate Controls
  • Latitude – generally colder toward poles with little precipitation
  • Elevation – higher the cooler and drier
  • Nearby Water – Temperature range small mild climate if downwind more moisture
  • Ocean Currents – warm currents warm nearby coasts
  • Topography – leeward side warmer than windward, windward side may be wetter, can act as a barrier to air masses.
Prevailing Winds – blow from a hot or cold region, blow from water or land
  • Vegetation – will effect insulation, releases water vapor
  • Some climate controls are more important than others depending on location.
    • e.g. London, England is pretty far north, however the warm ocean currents keep its climate mild.
polar climates
Polar Climates
  • Very cold in winter with little or no daylight
  • The sun strikes at such a low angle in summer it provides little solar energy
  • Much of the light is reflected back to space by snow and ice
  • Tundra are located in Polar Climates, they are very cold with little precipitation
  • Ice caps are another sub climate in polar climates
dry climates cover 30 of earth
Dry Climates – cover 30% of Earth
  • Occur in regions that lose more water due to evaporation than it receives from rain
  • Dry climates often exist on leeward sides of mountain ranges and where air sinks in the horse latitude
  • Semi-arid climates are not as dry as deserts and are often home to dense grasses. (Great Plains of the US)
humid tropical climates
Humid Tropical Climates
  • Hot year round – near the equator…ITCZ
  • Two sub climates…Tropical wet & Tropical wet and dry – wet summers, dry winters.
most mid latitude climate there are 2 of them one with mild winters the other with severe winters
Most mid-latitude Climate – There are 2 of them, one with mild winters, the other with severe winters.
  • Mild winter – There are 3 types
    • Humid subtropical – SE U.S. – Hot muggy summer, mild winters
    • Marine west coast – west coast of Canada and NW U.S. – cool summers, mild winters
    • Mediterranean – west coast of SW U.S. & the Mediterranean Sea – dry summers – wet winters with mild temperatures
Severe winters – snow often covers ground in winter but summers are warm – subclimates humid continental and the subarctic
    • Humid continental – found in the interior of continents and on eastern coasts including the N U.S. east of the great plains – winters very cold and summers very warm
    • Subarctic – near poles – short summers
  • Highlands – mountainous regions in which multiple climates exist
cause of climate change
Cause of Climate Change
  • Global mean temperature during the last Ice Age was only 5°C cooler than today’s global mean temperature
  • If an increase in cloud or ice cover causes more sunlight to be reflected out to space, Earth may cool
there is thought to be 4 basic causes for climate change
There is thought to be 4 basic causes for climate change
  • Earth’s Motion – shape of its orbit, tilt of its axis varies between 22.1° to 24.5° in a 41,000 year period
    • These changes affect sun intensity which may allow ice to grow on surface
  • Plate tectonics – moving of the continents
    • e.g. Greenland is thought to once have a warmer climate (close to equator) because of tropic fossils found in Greenland
Sunspots – the more sunspots the more energy given off by the sun
  • Volcanoes – increase dust, clouds and CO2 – may add to warming the atmosphere like what happened during the cretaceous period.
human effects on climate
Human Effects on Climate
  • Due to deforestation and fossil fuel burning CO2 in the atmosphere has increased since the 1800’s
    • Computer models not accurate because of all the variables
measuring climate change
Measuring Climate Change
  • Scientists use sea floor sediments, glacier samples and tree rings to study the past climates