Climate is the average weather usually taken over a 30-year time period for a particular region and time period. Climate is not the same as weather, but rather, it is the average pattern of weather for a particular region. Weather describes the short-term state of the atmosphere.
What is our climate system?
|Atmosphere||The atmosphere covers the Earth. It is a thin layer of mixed gases which make up the air we breathe. This thin layer also helps the Earth from becoming too hot or too cold.|
|Oceans||Oceans cover about 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Their large size and thermal properties allow them to store a lot of heat.|
|Land||Land covers 27 percent of Earth’s surface and land topography influences weather patterns.|
|Ice||Ice is the world’s largest supply of freshwater. It covers the remaining 3 percent of Earth’s surface including most of Antarctica and Greenland. Ice plays an important role in regulating climate, because it is highly reflective.|
|Biosphere||The biosphere is the part of Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans that supports any living plant, animal, or organism. It is the place where plants and animals, including humans, live.|
What is weather?
The weather is just the state of the atmosphere at any time, including things such as temperature, precipitation, air pressure and cloud cover. Daily changes in the weather are due to winds and storms. Seasonal changes are due to the Earth revolving around the sun.
What causes weather?
Because the Earth is round and not flat, the Sun’s rays don’t fall evenly on the land and oceans. The Sun shines more directly near the equator bringing these areas more warmth. However, the polar regions are at such an angle to the Sun that they get little or no sunlight during the winter, causing colder temperatures. These differences in temperature create a restless movement of air and water in great swirling currents to distribute heat energy from the Sun across the planet. When air in one region is warmer than the surrounding air, it becomes less dense and begins to rise, drawing more air in underneath. Elsewhere, cooler denser air sinks, pushing air outward to flow along the surface and complete the cycle.
Why do mountains affect weather and climate?
There are two sides to a mountain: wayward and leeward. Whenever it is raining, the wayward side gets the rain. As a cloud goes up the mountain, it keeps raining until there is no more water in the cloud. Now, as the cloud starts to go down the other side of the mountain, there is no more precipitation. So, the leeward side of the mountain doesn’t get any rain. The flat ground on this side of the mountain is dry and humid.
What is the Water Cycle?
Earth has a limited amount of water. So, that water keeps going around. We call it the water cycle. The water cycle begins with evaporation. Evaporation is when the sun heats up water in rivers, lakes or the ocean. Then turns it into water vapor or steam. The water vapor or steam leaves the body of water and goes into the air. Transpiration is the process by which plants lose water out of their leaves. Condensation is when water vapor in the air gets cold and changes back into water to form clouds. Think of it this way, when you open a cold soda on a hot summer day, your soda will start to sweat as water droplets form on the outside of the can. Precipitation occurs when so much water has condensed that the air can’t hold it anymore. This is how we get rain or snow. Collection happens when the precipitation falls and is collected back in the oceans, lakes and rivers. When it falls to the ground, it will soak into the earth and become ground water. This is the water cycle and it just keeps repeating.
Why do we have seasons?
As the Earth spins on its axis, producing night and day, it also moves about the Sun in an elliptical (elongated circle) orbit that requires 365 1/4 days to complete. The Earth’s axis is tilted at 23.5 degrees and is why we have seasons. When the Earth’s axis points towards the Sun, it is summer for that hemisphere. When the Earth’s axis points away, winter can be expected.
What is the significance of the Sun to the Earth?
Without the Sun, there would be no weather. Earth is positioned as the third planet, so our temperatures are sustainable for life. The average temperature of Mars is much colder, while Venus is much hotter.
How can you tell what time it is by looking at the Sun?
Because the sun ALWAYS rises in the east and sets in the west, you can tell the time just by looking at where the sun is. When you look east and the sun is on the horizon that means its approximately 6:00am. When the sun is directly above your head that means its noon. When you look to the west and the sun is on the horizon that means its approximately 6:00pm.
Why do we get more sunlight in the summer than in the winter?
You might not have noticed this, but the Earth tilts over slightly. If you have a globe at home or in school, you can see that the line between north and south poles, that goes through the center of the Earth, isn’t vertical. It’s actually tilting over by about 23 degrees. In our summer, the north pole is pointing towards the Sun so the Sun rises and sets roughly from due east to due west. In winter, the Earth is on the other side of the Sun so the North Pole is pointing away from the Sun. This means the Sun rises and sets more towards the southeast and southwest. You might notice this as you look out of the window. Think back to how high in the sky the sun was during the summer. Compare this to where the sun is during the winter and you’ll see it’s much lower down towards the horizon. Because the sun is lower down on the horizon, there’s less time for it to travel between horizons. There’s less distance for it to travel so the sun rises later and sets earlier meaning there’s less daylight.