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Chapter 14
Earth’s Climate
Lesson 1
What is Climate?
Think About It…
What is the climate like here in
Focus Question…
What factors determine the
climate of an area?
A. Climate Basics…
1. What is climatology?
 the study of Earth’s climate and the factors that
affect it
2. What is climate?
 long-term weather patterns of an area
What are three main factors that climate
describes about an area?
 Temperature
 Precipitation
 Wind
Weather or Climate?
3. Weather or Climate?
a. It’s rainy and
warm today.
 weather
b. Clemmons has 4
seasons with a
moderate amount of
rain and wind.
 climate
Weather – Cloudy with a
chance of meatballs!
Factors That Affect Climate…
Factors That Affect Climate…
Topographical Effects
Factors That Affect Climate…
Air Masses
A tropical island in
the Atlantic Ocean
has a maritime
tropical climate
(warm and humid)
because it’s climate
is controlled by the
mT air mass.
Ocean Currents Determine
Climate… Write notes on Lesson!
a. Currents affect climate…
East coasts have warm currents. (The Gulf
Stream causes our climate to be humid
ii. West coasts have cold currents. (The
California current from the Bering Sea
causes California to have a Mediterranean
climate that is cool and dry.)
Proximity to Oceans…
Ocean Currents Determine
Climate… Write notes on Lesson!
b. Coastal climates are more temperate
than continental (interior) climates…
Differential heating of water and land means
that oceans take longer than continents to…
• cool down after summer (Remember how long
hurricane season lasts? Until November 30th!)
• warm up after winter
ii. Oceans act as air conditioning in summer
and heaters in the winter.
iii. Our coastal communities – such as the
Outer Banks or Wilmington are cooler in the
summer and warmer in the winter.
Lesson 2
Climate Classification and Biomes
Focus Question…
How are Earth’s climates
Climate Classification…
The Koeppen Classification Scale
Climate Classification…
1. Tropical
– Constant high
– Up to 600 cm
of rain
– Dramatic
vegetation and
Climate Classification…
2. Dry (arid or semiarid)
– cT air
– Low
– Vegetation is
Climate Classification…
3. Humid subtropical
– The North
Atlantic (Gulf
– Marine West
– Mediterranean
Climate Classification…
4. Northern
– Clashing
tropical and
polar air masses
– Rapid, violent
changes in
– Summer and
winter temps
can be extreme
Climate Classification…
5. Subarctic and
– Subarctic is a
subclass of
– Tundra is a
subclass of
polar climates
Climate Classification…
6. Greenland and
– These are
constantly cold
– Cold air holds
less moisture
than warm air
so precipitation
is generally low.
1. What is a microclimate?
 A localized climate that
differs from the main
regional climate
a. The microclimate of a
very high mountain is
classified as “high
b. These microclimates
are called uplands and
A Llama in at Machu Picchu
in the Andes Mountains
Heat Islands…
2. What is a heat island?
 a place in which the
climate is warmer than
the area around it – lots
of buildings and little
Where would you expect to find
heat islands in the
 Greensboro, WinstonSalem, Raleigh
Biomes are large geographic
regions which have similar
climate; and plants and
animals with similar
Biomes…Tundra (Polar Zone)
• Climate…
Average temperature constantly low
 low precipitation (cold air/ no
Very long winters!
• Vegetation…
 grasses (shallow roots)
• Animals…
 Polar bears (big and fat!)
• Air Masses – cP and A
• Soil – permanently frozen
The Tundra
• Climate…
 Avg temperatures - low most
of the year
 Avg precipitation - little –
mostly snow!
long winters
• Vegetation…
 evergreen trees (needle like
leaves conserve water)
• Animals…
• grizzly bears, elk, moose
• Air Masses – cP and A
• Soil – supports trees
Biomes – Deciduous Forests
• Climate…
 Average temperatures warm, humid summers/
dry, cool winters
Average precip – moderate
 4 seasons
• Vegetation…
 seasonal forests – drop
leaves to conserve water
• Animals…
 black bears, foxes, deer
• Air Masses – maritime and
• Soil – rich and thick
Biomes… Deserts
• Climate …
 Average temps usually high/ can be cold
at night
Average precipitation -
extremely low
 Semi-arid have rainy
 cactus - stores water
 coyote, javelina, mountain
lions – active at night
Air Mass – cT
Soil – light-colored, salty, thin
due to lack of water
Monument Valley, Utah
• Climate…
 Average temperatures Summer and winter temps can
be extreme!
Average precipitation…low
Grasslands Savannahs
to moderate
 4 seasons (temperate)
 grasses dominate – thrive on
Animals… bison, wolves, prairie
dogs (grazers)
Air Masses – mT and cP
Soil – temperate grasslands can
be very rich (grainbelts)
Temperate Grasslands North Dakota in the winter!
• Climate …
 Average temperatures constantly high
Average precipitation high (600 cm/yr)
• Vegetation…
rain forest – large leaves
to capture sunlight
• Animals…
 jaguar, tapirs, primates –
many live in trees
• Air Mass – mT
• Soil – intensely weathered
Lesson 3
Climate Changes
Think About It…
What causes the seasons?
Focus Question…
What factors can change
Earth’s climate?
Ice Ages…
1. What is an ice age?
 periods of extensive glacial coverage
a. An interglacial interval is a warm period.
b. We are currently in an interglacial period.
c. Earth’s climate should warm up during an
interglacial period!
Ice Ages…
Global temperatures were about 5 degrees Celsius lower than normal.
2. What causes the seasons?
 the tilt of the Earth as it orbits the sun – We are
tilted towards the sun during our summer and away
from the sun during our winter.
El Niño
What is El Niño?
the warming of a current
that is usually cold;
occurs along the S.
American coast every 27 years
During El Niño…
a. California and the Gulf
Coast can experience
severe weather due to a
southern shift in the jet
b. There are fewer
hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Recent Major El Niño Years – 1982 and 1998
El Niño – Currents Affected…
Change Can Be Natural…
1. What type of studies provide
evidence of past climatic
(Before thermometers, that is!)
tree rings
ice-core samples
fossils & pollen samples
radio-carbon samples
Dendrochronology is
the study of tree rings.
Natural Variations in Climate…
2. Five natural variations that can lead to
changes in Earth’s climate include…
Solar activity (sunspots)
Change in Earth’s orbit (more elliptical)
Change in Earth’s Axis Angle (nutation)
Earth’s wobble (precession)
Volcanic activity
We will look at each one separately…
Solar Activity…
2a. Fewer sunspots decrease Earth’s temperatures.
Earth’s Orbit…
2b. When Earth’s
orbit elongates to
become more
elliptical, it passes
closer to the sun
and temperatures
Earth’s Tilt…
2c. If the angle of the tilt of Earth’s axis increased
(nutation) there would be more temperature
contrast between summer and winter.
Earth’s Wobble (precession)…
2d. If Earth were to wobble towards the star
Vega, winters will be colder in the N.
2e. Large volcanic eruptions tend to…
 cool the Earth.
 This cooling is due to volcanic ash and dust blocking out
solar radiation.
Lesson 4
Climate Change: Manmade or
You Decide!
Think About It…
What causes climate change?
Focus Question…
Are people causing climate
One Major Issue
The issue of climate change is probably one
of the most important of our day.
No scientist questions that we have
experienced warming and cooling lately.
The question is the cause of the warming – is
it caused by people releasing carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere or by natural forces
such as the sun and water vapor?
There are two main groups of scientists –
those who believe that climate change is
manmade and those who believe that
climate change is natural.
Manmade Climate Change …
Who’s On This Side?
1. United Nations
Panel on Climate
2. Al Gore (Former
Vice President)
3. James Hansen
Manmade Climate Change…
Basic Belief About Cause of
Climate Change…
People are causing
climate change by
burning fossil fuels
– and it will cause
changes on Earth
– An Inconvenient
Manmade Climate Change …
The Role of Carbon Dioxide…
Carbon dioxide
(usually referred to
as “carbon
released by burning
fossil fuels, is
warming the
Manmade Climate Change…
Evidence to Support View?
1. Carbon dioxide
studies showing that
levels have gone up.
2. Climate studies
represented by a
discredited graph
known as the
“hockey-stick” graph
3. Computer models
showing extreme
Manmade Climate Change…
What to Do About Climate
1. Reduce our use
of fossil fuels or
buy carbon
credits to offset
2. Use alternative
sources of
Natural Climate Change …
Who’s On This Side?
1. William Gray (Hurricane
Expert from Colorado
State University)
2. Willie Soon
(Astrophysicist from
3. Joe Bastardi
(Meteorologist formerly
with Accuweather)
Natural Climate Change…
Basic Belief About Cause of
Climate Change…
Climate has always
changed, it is
natural, and
caused mostly by
changes in the
output of the sun’s
Natural Climate Change…
The Role of Carbon Dioxide…
Carbon dioxide is a trace greenhouse gas
and is not the major cause of global
A trace greenhouse gas or the Sun? Which is more
powerful? Hmmmm…
Natural Climate Change
Evidence to Support View?
1. Climate studies showing
the Medieval Warming
and the Little Ice Age
2. Sunspot data showing
that global temperatures
go up and down with
sun spot activity
3. Ice core data that shows
that carbon dioxide
levels go up AFTER
temperatures go up.
What to Do About Climate
Natural Climate Change
1. Adapt for future
2. Stop scaring people
with outlandish
climate change
(Climatologist Timothy
Ball’s words)
Lesson 5
Think About It…
What do you think is the biggest
threat to the survival of
Focus Question…
What factors threaten
biodiversity and how can
people reduce their impact on
the biosphere?
1. The biosphere is…
…all life on Earth!
2. Biodiversity refers to
… the number and
variety of species on
Genetic biodiversity is
the difference in
genetic makeup
within a species.
There are 1.6 million known
species on earth.
Most of these known species
are insects!
There are an estimated 11.4
million species yet to be
a. The biome with the
most biodiversity is…
… the rainforest b/c it has the
most water available for
living things
b. The biomes with the
least biodiversity are…
… the desert b/c it has the
least water available and
the tundra b/c it is very
cold and there is little
liquid water available.
B. Factors That Reduce Biodiversity…
1. Human Population Growth…
a. People have the greatest impact on Earth’s
natural resources because…
… they have an unequaled capacity to modify
their environment (See next slide…)
b. As our population grows the demand for
natural resources…
… increases as well
A (Very) Modified Environment!
Ski resort in the
desert of Dubai…
Factors That Reduce Biodiversity…
c. 75% of all species
become extinct due
to habitat loss.
• (Why? If its habitat is
destroyed, where
will it live? What will
it eat?)
• A growing population
demands more
natural resources!
2. Habitat Alteration…
a. Ecosystems with a high biodiversity are
more stable b/c…
… they are able to recover more quickly from
harmful events such as disease and drought
b. Habitat alteration …
… is the changing of a natural habitat (in these
examples, human-caused)
… includes monoculture, deforestation, and
Habitat Alteration…
Monoculture can be
defined as the planting of
just one species in a field.
Basically, one crop take the
place of many species.
This decreases
A monoculture can lead to
crop failure if a disease
wipes out the single
plant species.
Habitat Alteration…
Deforestation is the removal of trees without
adequate replanting.
… It reduces biodiversity b/c animals are left without
homes and food (not to mention, people are also left
Habitat Alteration…
iii. Urban Development: People moving
to urban areas can reduce
biodiversity when...
a. … natural habitats are lost as forests are
cleared and wetlands are filled
b. … large volumes of solid waste and
pollution are produced
3. Invasive Species…
a. An invasive species is one that is not
native to an area.
b. Invasive species reduce biodiversity in
one of two ways…
– They have no natural enemies so they can
take over an ecosystem. (Burmese python)
– Native species have no defenses against an
exotic species.
Invasive species take over!
This is kudzu…a local invasive species!
Invasive Species of North
The Emerald Ash Beetle
It’s getting close to NC!
4. Pollution…
a. The major source of near-shore pollution
… sewage water
b. High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in human
wastewater creates...
… blooms of cyanobacteria that die and use up the oxygen
in the water as they decompose
c. Pumping untreated sewage into the ocean
… large dead zones on the ocean floor where there are no
living organisms
5. Overharvesting…
a. Overharvesting is…
… excessive fishing of aquatic animals
… excessive harvesting of a plant
b. Examples of species that might be
overharvested here in North Carolina are…
… Ramps (wild leeks)
c. This leads to a reduction in biodiversity by
reducing the population of harvested species.
C. Global Impact…
1. The loss of biodiversity affects our
survival needs on a global scale!
– Food
– Water
– Air
– Shelter
– Energy
2. To prevent death, famine, exposure, find
cures for diseases, and even prevent
wars, we need to preserve biodiversity!
What are ways people can
reduce their impact on the