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Climate and Weather
• Weather: State of atmosphere at particular times and places
• Climate: Long-term state of the atmosphere defined by averages
and extremes over time
• Climate vs. Weather
• Florida is big, so north and south are very different
• South FL – Subtropical
• Keys – Tropical
• North FL – Winter cold fronts, more rain
Temperature and Humidity
• Gulf of Mexico influences weather patterns
• Three sides of water: high humidity, a lot of rain
• Rain helps internal lakes and wetlands
• Overall lowers temperature
• Temperature is fairly constant in a day
• Does range from < 0 to 90 +
• Rarities: Snow, sleet, hail, and temps above 100
• Frequent rain showers, but little rain at one time
• About 1 inch
• 53 inches of rain per year, 120 total rain events
• Rain events: Usually showers, 10-20 storms per year
• 75% returns to atmosphere, 25% remains in the sea
• 1 inch groundwater goes to the sea
• 1 inch rain replaces groundwater
Regional Differences in Rainfall
• Western panhandle: 60 inches
• East coast: 50 inches
• Seasonal variation as well
• Dramatic storms may rearrange geology off the area
Rainy and Dry Seasons
• Alternate wet and dry seasons
• Wet summers: June – August
• Dry winters: October – December
• Regional Differences
• North FL: Rain December – April
• South FL: Little rain during the winter
• Plant/Animal life cycles follow rainy and dry season
• Plants drop seeds prior to heavy rain
• Salamanders/Frogs breed during rain
Rainy and Dry Seasons
• Wetlands
• Rain provides the water
• Plants can withstand being submerged for months at a time
• Dry + Lightning = Fire
• More lightning in FL per year than any other area of the country
• Most storms occur in the summer
• Toward end of dry period, areas are particularly vulnerable
• Until about May
• Yearly burns are beneficial in these areas
• Removes fire-resistant plants
• Adds nutrients to the soil
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
• Cyclone: Spinning wind
• Wind below 40 mph: Tropical depression
• Wind 40-70 mph: Tropical Storm
• Wind 70+ mph: Hurricane
• Wind is good! When it knocks down trees….
• Provides space for animals
• Elevated areas for seedlings to grow
• Storm surges move water inland
• Erosion
• May damage man-made structures, but natural ecosystems
are adapted to these changes
Surface Materials
• Sediments contribute to:
• Ravines
• Banks
• Flat lakes
• Caves
• Sinkholes
• Springs
Southeastern US Coastal Plain
• The entire state of Florida!
• Innermost boundary = the Piedmont
• Rocky skirt surrounding mountains
• Specific to southern Appalachian mountains
• Outermost boundary = the coastline
• Continental Shelf: Submerged continent offshore
• Continental Slope: Edge of shelf that drops off to ocean basins
Three Major Sediment Types
• Marine
• Limestone and Dolomite
• At or below surface
• Contain calcium
• Deposited when Florida was underwater
• Clastic
• Clay, silt, sand, gravel
• Transported from Appalachian mountains
• Lie above marine sediments
Three Major Sediment Types
• Organic
• On or mixed into surface sediments
• Thickest in wet areas
• Capable of supporting plant life
• Specific moisture characteristics
• Xeric: Dry, lots of oxygen, rainwater drains away
• Mesic: Moist, not waterlogged, holds oxygen, drains well
• Hydric: Wet, low oxygen
Florida Fluctuates Area
• Edge of peninsula fluctuates rapidly
• Completely submerged in the past
• Completely exposed in the past
• About half of Florida platform is above water today
• Platform: sedimentary rocks deposited on seafloor for millions of
• Underwater villages, forests, swamps, and marshes
• Sea level currently rising
• Damages waterfront homes and businesses
Regions of Florida
• Old shorelines define three regions with different elevation and
distance from the coastline
• Highest
• Highlands
• Ridges
• Upland plains
• Lower
• Coastal lowlands
• Sea level
• Coastal Zone
Floridan Aquifer System
• Aquifer: Water holding layer
• Floridan Aquifer System: Water holding limestone under
all of Florida
• Fresh groundwater, except for underwater areas
• Rainwater increases acidity – eating away limestone
• Giant sinkholes…….
• Shape of the land’s surface
• Influenced by what the land is made of
• Influences what lives on the land
Clay Hills
• North Florida
• Layers of sandy clay or clayey sand
• From the mountains
• Water runs over the top of the land
Sand hills
• Ancient barrier islands and dunes
• Previously at the coastline, but moving coastlines have left them
stranded inland
• Sand all throughout the periphery of Florida
Karst Topography
• Influenced by dissolving
• All over Florida
• Outcrops, depressions, ponds,
caves, etc etc etc
Coastal Features
•Depend on energy of waves and size of slope
• High-energy areas
• Steep slop
• High-energy waves
• Sand and shells
• Beaches
Low-energy areas
Gentle slope
Low-energy waves
Clay and silt
Marshes and swamps
Florida Waters
• Highly variable
• Interior water
• From the ground
• Filtered by limestone
• Alklaine
• Clear
• Cool
Swampy water
Stream water