Climate

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We live on planet earth that is blessed with the best of conditions like optimal temperature, the perfect mixture of air, and the correct amount of sunlight for us to live! The weather around us can be rainy, sunny, cloudy, or gloomy depending on the conditions in the atmosphere. It depends on factors like temperature, air pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, and other things. We check the weather forecast to plan our days. But it may change within minutes from being sunny to cloudy or vice versa or from being sunny to rainy and the other way around. So weather can be defined as the short term conditions of the atmosphere. It is what you see outside on any particular day or at any particular time.

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Climate is however, the average of weather. For example, it may snow in the month of January in the Northeast and it may snow in the month of July in Southeast. Here we are talking about the average weather or the climate of the place in during that month. Thus, climate can be defined as the weather of a particular area over a long period of time. It is determined by the measures of weather like averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind etc. However, while descriptions of an area’s climate provide a sense of what to expect in that area, they don’t give us specific details of weather of any particular day.

In simple terms, we can say that weather tells you what to wear each day, while climate tells you what kind of clothes you should have in your closet.

Global Climate

Like the United States, other regions of the world will have different climates based on various factors. Global climate refers to the climate of the entire planet as a whole and is an average of the climate all around it. It depends on its distance from the Sun and the amount of sunshine received.  So it will vary from one planet to another.

Factors Influencing Climate

The main factors that affect the climate of a place are a distance from the sea, ocean currents, direction of winds, altitude, distance from the equator, proximity of mountain ranges or topographic influences among many others.

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DISTANCE FROM THE SEA –

Sea is a key influencer of the climate of a place. Coastal areas are cooler and humid that the center of landmasses. The sea breeze keeps the climate cooler but the moisture keeps the humidity up. The central areas are subjected to varied range of dry heat as the moisture evaporates by the time it reaches there.

OCEAN CURRENTS –

The ocean currents act like conveyor belts and transport warm water and precipitation from the equator to the poles and cold water back to the tropics. It regulates the GLOBAL CLIMATE and tries to moderate the uneven distribution of sunlight on the earth. In the absence of ocean currents the temperature in each region would have been either too hot or too cold.

DIRECTION OF WIND –

Convection is a process by which heat is transferred in the atmosphere. Hot air has a tendency to move up, which creates pressure difference and thus causes movement of air from one place to another. Winds can move heat, cold and moisture along with it. Wind also has numerous impacts on surface water like rates of evaporation, mixing of surface waters and development of storms.

ALTITUDE –

Temperatures decrease with altitude. A location on the mountains has lower average temperatures than the one at the base of the mountains. This is because as we go higher up, the air becomes thinner and is less able to absorb and retain heat. Mountains also receive more rainfall than low lying areas. This is because cool air cannot hold much moisture and thus, it comes down as precipitation.

DISTANCE FROM THE EQUATOR OR LATITUDE –

Latitude is the measure of distance from the equator. The Polar Regions receive energy from the sun at lower angles that passes through longer distance in the atmosphere there. On the other hand, the equator receives sunlight at direct angles. This creates the difference in climatic conditions in these regions and in the regions in between. Usually it gets cooler as you go away from the equator towards the poles.

TOPOGRAPHIC INFLUENCES –

Topography influences air’s movement. Mountain ranges act as natural barriers to movement of air. So coastal winds cannot reach past these mountains which makes the inland areas dry and warm. The humidity in coastal areas is also higher as there is moisture in air, which decreases as one goes away from them.

One must remember that all these factors together influence the climate of a region. So there are bound to be variations based on the combined conditions of an area. Due to excessive exploitation of earth, we are facing issues like global warming and climate change. Tackling them is the need of the hour and we are going to learn more about that aspect soon.

Check Point

  1. Climate can be defined as the ________ of a particular area over a long period of time.
  2. The overall climate of a planet is called its ________ climate.
  3. The _________ act like conveyor belts and transport warm water and precipitation from the equator to the poles and cold water back to the tropics.
  4. Temperatures __________ as the altitude increases.
  5. ________ is the measure of distance from the equator.

Answer Key

  1. Weather
  2. Global
  3. Ocean Currents
  4. Decrease/dip
  5. Latitude

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