Review and assess your learning. Start with the "Important Terms and Concepts" to ensure you know the terminology related to the topic of the chapter and concepts discussed. Move on to the "Review Questions" to answer critical thinking questions about concepts and processes discussed in the chapter. Finally, test your overall understanding by taking the "Self-assessment quiz".
- the study of the long-term state of the atmosphere, or climate
- the long-term state of the atmosphere
- climate classification
- ways to organize the wealth of information about Earth's climate to bring order and understanding to it
- empirical classification
- classification systems based on observable facts such as temperature and precipitation.
- genetic classification
- classification systems based on the cause of the climate like solar radiation, air masses, pressure systems, etc.
- applied classification
- classification systems created for a particular climate-associated problem
- Koeppen Climate Classification
- an empirical system largely based on annual and monthly means of temperature and precipitation
- Tropical rain forest Climate
- supports one of the most lush and diverse environments on Earth. Located near the equator, it is characterized by year-round warm temperatures and copious rainfall
- Monsoon Climate
- abundant rainfall concentrated in the high-sun season, located near the equator with warm temperatures throughout the year
- Wet/Dry Tropical Climate
- it supports a ground cover of drought resistant grasses with scattered trees, but not enough rainfall to make agriculture a viable, life sustaining activity.
- Tropical Steppe Climate
- transitional climate between the tropical wet and tropical dry climates
- Tropical Desert Climate
- an environment of extremes: it is the driest and hottest place on earth. Rainfall is sporadic and in some years no measurable precipitation falls at all.
- Dry Summer Subtropical Climate
- also known as the "Mediterranean" climate, wet winter/dry summer seasonality
- Humid Subtropical Climate
- found on the east coast of continents, instable air with moderate amounts of precipitation in most months of the year and subject to cold temperatures during the winter
- Humid Continental Climate
- noted for its variable weather patterns related to cyclonic storms and its large temperature range due to its interior location in mid-latitude continents
- Midlatitude Steppe Climate
- shares many of the same characteristics that the tropical steppe has. Both are semi-arid climates that are affected by their interior continental or leeward orographic position. However, the midlatitude steppe experiences larger temperature ranges and receives more total rainfall than the tropical steppe climate.
- Midlatitude Desert Climate
- shares many of the same climatic characteristics as the tropical deserts, and for many of the same reasons. While the tropical desert climates are considered "hot" deserts following Köppen's classification (BWh), midlatitude deserts are "cold" deserts
- Humid (Marine) West Coast Climate
- found on the west coast of midlatitude continents and is very humid through most of the year. Its geographic location places it in the path of westerly winds from the ocean that bring cloudy skies, much precipitation, and mild temperatures.
- Subarctic Climate
- Bitterly cold winters and mild summers result in the largest annual temperature range of any climate on Earth.
- Tundra Climate
- transitional climate between the Subarctic and Ice cap climates. It is a region of rolling to nearly level terrain almost entirely devoid of trees. Polar climates like the tundra are characterized by very cold temperatures and generally dry conditions. Temperatures never rise above 10o C (50oF) during the summer.
- Ice Cap Climate
- experiences the coldest temperatures on earth. Located near the poles, this climate experiences bitterly cold temperatures throughout the year, especially during the long polar night. The resulting humidity levels are so low that precipitation amounts may be similar to most deserts.
Compare and Contrast the seasonality of precipitation that falls in the Dry Summer Subtropical climate and the Humid Subtropical climate.
The dry summer subtropical climate has a dry summer due to the influence of the subtropical high and a wet winter due to midlatitude cyclones embedded in the westerlies. The humid subtropical climate has ample precipitation in all months, decreasing toward the interior of the continent.
Describe how the seasonality of precipitation (generally) varies as one travels from the Equator to the Mediterranean Sea in Africa.
Along the equator, climates receive much rain fall in each month of the year. The precipitation is relatively evenly distributed between high and low sun seasons. As one moves poleward, annual precipitation decreases and becomes seasonal, falling mostly in the high sun season (ITCZ dominates). Precipitation decreases to a minimum in the Sahara desert where the subtropical high dominates. Precipitation becomes seasonal falling mostly in the low sun season as one proceeds to the Mediterranean Sea (Dry Summer Subtropical climate).
How does the geographical distribution of the Marine West Coast climate in North America differ from that in Europe. What is largely responsible for the difference?
The marine west coast in North America is confined to a narrow belt along the west coast of the continent by north-south oriented mountains. The orientation presents a barrier to westerly maritime winds, forcing them to rise inducing precipitation. Mountains in Europe tend to be east-west oriented, presenting less of a barrier to westerly wind, thus extending the marine west coast climate further into the continent.
In general, why does the arctic tundra climate have a smaller temperature range than the subarctic climate.
The arctic tundra is generally bordered by an ocean which moderates the annual temperature variation. The interior location of the subarctic climate results in a larger temperature range even at a lower latitude.
Which climate has the smallest annual temperature range and why?
The tropical rain forest climate has the smallest annual temperature range. Located near the equator means the sun is always high in the sky during the year. Little variation in sun angle results in small annual temperature range.
Which climates are significantly influenced by mountain systems?
The moist climate of the marine west coast climate in North America is due to orographic uplift of marine air masses along windward slopes. The dry conditions of many deserts and steppes result from their leeward location in the rain shadow of the mountains.
What is continentality and what affect does it have on the climate of a place?
Continentality is the effect of continental location on weather and climate. Places located in the interior of a continent tend to have lower humidity, less precipitation, and a larger annual temperature range than coastal locations (exceptions do occur!)
Which climates are significantly influenced by cold ocean currents?
The dry summer subtropical climate, especially in North America is influenced by a cold ocean current. The coastal portion of the humid subtropical climate is affected by a warm ocean current. The marine west coast climate of Europe is mild due to the influence of the warm North Atlantic Current.
Why do physical geographers sometimes refer to the Ice cap climate as a "polar desert"?
The air is extremely cold and thus has a very low saturation point resulting in meager precipitation.
When does the Wet/Dry tropical (Savanna) climate experience its highest temperatures and highest rainfall?
Highest temperatures are generally prior to the wet season. Most rain falls during the high sun season.
How do the position of the ITCZ and Subtropical Highs affect the climate of the tropics?
The uplift of air by convection and convergence in the ITCZ promotes precipitation while the subsidence of air associated with the subtropical high suppresses precipitation.
- The largest temperature range is found in the
- Subarctic climate
- Ice cap climate
- Tundra Climate
- none of the above
- Which of the following climates is dominated by mTu through much of the year?
- Humid subtropical
- Humid continental
- Dry summer subtropical
- Tropical steppe
- If location's annual potential evapotranspiration is greater than half the annual precipitation you would classify the climate as a
- dry summer subtropical
- tropical desert
- tropical steppe
- tropical monsoon
- Desert climates
- are typically found in rain shadow locations
- dominated by high pressure
- have large daily temperature ranges
- all the above
- The highest monthly temperature occurs ______ in the tropical monsoon climate.
- just before the wet season
- just after the wet season
- during the low sun season
- none of the above
- The polar front dominates the _____ climate during most of the year.
- dry summer subtropical
- humid continental
- humid subtropical
- Which of the following climates lacks seasonal precipitation?
- Tropical rain forest
- Tropical Wet/Dry
- Tropical Steppe
- The precipitation that falls in the marine west coast climate of North America is primarily caused by
- cyclones and orographic uplift
- convection and orographic uplift
- convection and cyclones
- Which climate borders the Mediterranean Sea?
- Humid Continental
- Humid Subtropical
- Tropical Monsoon
- Dry Summer Subtropical
- The precipitation along the equatorward margins of the humid subtropical climate
- tends to be evenly distributed throughout the year
- tends to fall mostly in the summer
- tends to fall mostly in the winter
- none of the above
Use these resources to further explore the world of geography
"The Climate System" (Met Office)
"USGS Public Lecture Series: Climate Change 101 (August 2009)
Climate Connections: NPR series on global warming
"Polar Warming" (PBS) News Hour with Jim Lehrer. November 11, 2004 report on the impact of global climate change on the Arctic.
Climate Change Series - (WGBH Forum Network). Six part series includes topics of global climate change and the Arctic, The Southern Ocean, The Media, Ask the Experts, Northern Forests, The Ross Ice Shelf
"Global Warming" (NPR) All things Considered Sept 11, 2003 segment about puzzling climate change data that suggests "global warming isn't following the rules". (5:07)
"Climate Change" (NPR) May 2004 three-part series on climate change issues facing New York City.
"What's Happening to Alaska's Glaciers? Their Dynamic Response to Changing Climate and Other Factors" Dr. Bruce Molina (USGS) Descriptive Flyer pdf.
Interactive Climate Map - M. Ritter
Paleoclimatology: An Introduction (NASA EOS)
Global Warming and Global Climate Change (Carnegie Mellon University)
Climate Clues in the Ice (NASA EOS)
The Warming of the Earth: A beginner's guide to global warming. (Woods Hole Research Center)
World Climate Data Centers