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Climate and Seasons
Climate - long term (30 year) average weather conditions of a location, characterized by temperature
and precipitation (rain & snow)
Factors affecting climate:
1. Latitude - most influential factor
a. Higher latitudes (closer to the poles) are colder
Receive lower angle/less intense sunlight
b. Lower latitudes (closer to the equator) are warmer
Receive high angle/more intense (more direct) sunlight
2. Proximity to water
a. Locations close to large bodies of water will have a small range in annual temperature
due to the high specific heat of water.
b. Inland locations will experience a large range in annual temperature due to the low
specific heat of land materials.
3. Planetary winds
a. Winds blow from areas of high pressure towards areas of low pressure
Are a direct result of the unequal (differential) heating of the Earth’s surface
b. Coriolis Effect -- winds curve as a result of the Earth’s rotation
Winds curve towards the right in the northern hemisphere
Winds curve towards the left in the southern hemisphere
4. Ocean currents
a. Are largely influenced by planetary winds
Warm currents will warm a location’s climate
Cool currents will cool a location’s climate
5. Mountain barriers
a. Coastal mountain ranges force moist air to rise on the windward side of the mountain
resulting in a warmer, drier leeward side.
6. Elevation/Altitude
a. The higher you go up, the colder the temperature will be
Climographs - display climate data (precipitation and temperature) for a specific location
Temperature is ALWAYS a line graph
Precipitation is ALWAYS a bar graph
Greenhouse Gases and the Greenhouse Effect
1. Greenhouse Effect - the warming of a planet’s surface caused by atmospheric gases trapping
and re-radiating outgoing infrared radiation
2. Greenhouse Gases:
a. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
b. Methane (CH4)
c. Water vapor (H2O)
d. Fluorinated gases
e. Nitrous oxide
(in the Northern Hemisphere)
Seasons: the result of the revolution of the Earth around the Sun and the 23.5° axial tilt of the Earth
1. Summer Solstice (June 21) - occurs when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun
a. Longest duration of daylight (most hours of sunlight) - longest path of the Sun
b. Sun is at its highest altitude - shortest shadows
c. Direct ray (90° angle of insolation) at the Tropic of Cancer (23.5°N)
d. Sun rises in the NE and sets in the NW
2. Spring/Fall Equinox (March 21/September 21)
a. Duration of daylight equals 12 hours
b. Sun is at an intermediate altitude
c. Direct ray (90° angle of insolation) at the Equator (0°)
d. Sun rises in the E and sets in the W
3. Winter Solstice (December 21) - occurs when the N. Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun
a. Shortest duration of daylight (least hours of sunlight) - shortest path of the Sun
b. Sun is at its lowest altitude - longest shadows
c. Direct ray (90° angle of insolation) at the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5°S)
d. Sun rises in the SE and sets in the SW
Shadows - created when an object blocks light from traveling farther
● Are cast in the direction opposite of the Sun
● Length depends on the altitude of the Sun
○ Higher altitude = shorter shadow (at noon everyday)
○ Lower altitude = longer shadow (around sunrise and sunset)
● Noon time Sun is NYC is ALWAYS in the southern sky, so the noon shadow points north