What is Climate?
Think About It…
What is the climate like here in Winston Salem?
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
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.
weatherb. Winston Salem has 4 seasons with a moderate amount of rain and wind.
Weather – Cloudy with a chance of meatballs!
Factors That Affect Climate… Latitude
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.http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/bahamas-guide/
Ocean Currents Determine Climate… Write notes on Lesson!
a. Currents affect climate…i. East coasts have warm currents. (The Gulf
Stream causes our climate to be humid subtropical.)
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…
i. 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.
Climate Classification and Biomes
How are Earth’s climates classified?
Climate Classification…The Koeppen Classification Scale
Climate Classification…1. Tropical
– Constant high temperatures
– Up to 600 cm of rain
– Dramatic vegetation and high biodiversity
Climate Classification…2. Dry (arid or semi-
– cT air dominates
– Low precipitation
– Vegetation is scarce
3. Humid subtropical– The North
Atlantic (Gulf Stream)
– Marine West Coast
Climate Classification…4. Northern
– Clashing tropical and polar air masses
– Rapid, violent changes in weather
– Summer and winter temps can be extreme
Climate Classification…5. Subarctic and
Tundra– Subarctic is a
subclass of continental climates
– Tundra is a subclass of polar climates
Climate Classification…6. Greenland and
Antarctica– 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 elevation.”
b. These microclimates are called uplands and highlands.
A Llama in at Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains
2. What is a heat island? a place in which the
climate is warmer than the area around it – lots of buildings and little vegetation.
Where would you expect to find heat islands in the Piedmont? Greensboro, Winston-
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 convection)
Very long winters!• Vegetation…
grasses (shallow roots)• Animals…
Polar bears (big and fat!)
• Air Masses – cP and A• Soil – permanently frozen
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
(hibernate/migrate)• 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 continental
• Soil – rich and thick http://www.solcomhouse.com/gulfstream.htm
Biomes… Deserts• Climate …
Average temps - usually high/ can be cold at night
Average precipitation - extremely low
Semi-arid have rainy seasons
• Vegetation… cactus - stores water
• Animals… coyote, javelina, mountain
lions – active at night• Air Mass – cT• Soil – light-colored, salty, thin
due to lack of water
Monument Valley, Utah
Average temperatures - Summer and winter temps can be extreme!
Average precipitation…low to moderate
4 seasons (temperate)• Vegetation…
grasses dominate – thrive on fire
• 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!
Tropical Grasslands - Savannahs
Biomes…Rainforests• Climate …
Average temperatures -
constantly highAverage 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
Think About It…
What causes the seasons?
What factors can change Earth’s climate?
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!
Global temperatures were about 5 degrees Celsius lower than normal.
Seasons…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.
3. What is El Niño? the warming of a current
that is usually cold; occurs along the S.
American coast every 2-7 years
During El Niño… a. California and the Gulf
Coast can experience severe weather due to a southern shift in the jet stream.
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 changes?
(Before thermometers, that is!)
i. tree ringsii. ice-core samplesiii. fossils & pollen samplesiv. radio-carbon samples
the study of tree rings.
Natural Variations in Climate…
2. Five natural variations that can lead to changes in Earth’s climate include…
i. Solar activity (sunspots)ii. Change in Earth’s orbit (more elliptical)iii. Change in Earth’s Axis Angle (nutation)iv. Earth’s wobble (precession)v. Volcanic activity
We will look at each one separately…
2a. Fewer sunspots decrease Earth’s temperatures.
2b. When Earth’s orbit elongates to become more elliptical, it passes closer to the sun and temperatures rise!
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. hemisphere.
Volcanoes… 2e. Large volcanic eruptions tend to…
cool the Earth. This cooling is due to volcanic ash and dust blocking out
Climate Change: Manmade or Natural?
Think About It…
What causes climate change?
Are people causing climate change?
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 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
2. Al Gore (Former Vice President)
3. James Hansen (NASA)
Manmade Climate Change…Basic Belief About Cause of
People are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels – and it will cause
catastrophic changes on Earth – An Inconvenient
Manmade Climate Change …The Role of Carbon Dioxide…
Carbon dioxide (usually referred to as “carbon emissions”), released by burning fossil fuels, is warming the atmosphere.
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 warming
Manmade Climate Change…What to Do About Climate
1. Reduce our use of fossil fuels or buy carbon credits to offset usage
2. Use alternative sources of energy
Natural Climate Change … Who’s On This Side?
1. William Gray (Hurricane Expert from Colorado State University)
2. Willie Soon (Astrophysicist from Harvard)
3. Joe Bastardi (Meteorologist formerly with Accuweather)
Natural Climate Change…Basic Belief About Cause of
Climate has always changed, it is natural, and
caused mostly by changes in the
output of the sun’s radiation.
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 ChangeEvidence 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 Change?
Natural Climate Change
1. Adapt for future changes!
2. Stop scaring people with outlandish climate change scenarios! (Climatologist Timothy Ball’s words)
Think About It…
What do you think is the biggest threat to the survival of
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 Earth
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
Biodiversity…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! tpeblog.wordpress.com
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
… includes monoculture, deforestation, and urbanization
Habitat Alteration…i. 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 biodiversity!
A monoculture can lead to crop failure if a disease wipes out the single plant species.
Habitat Alteration…ii. Deforestation is the removal of trees without
… It reduces biodiversity b/c animals are left without homes and food (not to mention, people are also left homeless!)
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 Carolina…
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 creates…
… 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