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Climates at (Very) Small Scales ENVS 110 10-15-2008 Influences on micro climate Proximity to ground Vegetation cover (e.g. grass, forest, shading) Proximity to water Vegetation height (e.g., surface roughness  wind speed) Local climates Forest climates

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Climates at (Very) Small Scales

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influences on micro climate
Influences on micro climate
  • Proximity to ground
  • Vegetation cover (e.g. grass, forest, shading)
  • Proximity to water
  • Vegetation height

(e.g., surface roughness  wind speed)

local climates
Local climates
  • Forest climates
    • Shading, trapping of solar energy within canopy, lower windspeeds
    • Influence on soil moisture, lower evaporation rates
    • Seasonal changes
urban climates
Urban climates
  • Albedo
    • Natural vegetation  concrete asphalt
  • Shading
    • Vegetation  buildings of various sizes
  • Effect on surface winds
    • Surface roughness, channeling of air currents
  • Aerosols (pollution)
  • Import of thermal energy (AC’s furnaces, etc.)
moisture in urban environments
Moisture in urban environments


  • Large storage of moisture in soil, vegetation, lakes etc.
  • Limited release through streams, groundwater etc.
  • Higher relative humidity


  • Very little moisture storage
  • Efficient drainage
  • Lower relative humidity
climate change due to urbanization
Climate change due to urbanization
  • Less sunshine due to various forms of pollution
  • More abundant clouds
  • Higher air temperatures due to albedo changes, heat retention and release, combustion etc.
  • More turbulent winds
  • Lower humidity
  • More intense storms due to stronger convection over built-up areas
mesoscale regional climates
Mesoscale (regional) climates
  • Often identified with distinctive geographic region (e.g., New England, California, the Mediterranean etc.)
  • Can approach from local (surface) conditions up to regional level, or from global scale down to regional level.
climate classification
Climate Classification
  • Greek: polar, temperate, tropical
  • Classifications based on distribution of temperature and moisture
  • Correlations between plant life and climate
  • Mix of climatological and botanical terms (e.g., tundra, prairie, savanna climate)
  • Empiric classification schemes: similar climates based on effect of climatic conditions on humans, vegetation etc.
  • Numeric classification: based on large databases, statistical parameters
k ppen classification
Köppen Classification

Five major climate types:

  • A – Tropical rainy climates
  • B – Dry climates
  • C – Mid-latitude rainy climates, mild winter
  • D – Mid-latitude rainy climates, cold winter
  • E – Polar climates
  • Thornthwaite
    • Based on moisture and temperature “efficiency”
  • Köppen in all it’s modifications and amendments
  • Genetic systems
    • Might address underlying causes of climate conditions
    • Based on airmass dominance
influence on vegetation
Influence on vegetation
  • Vegetation depends crucially on moisture and temperature regimes
  • Vegetation and climate maps should be rather similar

e.g., distribution of deserts, rainforests, prairies etc.

  • Forests:
    • Require sufficient moisture, warmth  tropical, temperate, boreal forests
  • Grasslands:
    • Dominated by herbs and shrubs, drier regions
  • Savannaa:
    • Mixture of grassland and trees depending on local climate conditions
  • Deserts:
    • Very little moisture available
  • Tundra:
    • Very cold, often dry