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What is climate?

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. 

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 Climate Change?

Climate change represents a change in long-term weather patterns. They can become warmer or colder. Annual amounts of rainfall or snowfall can increase or decrease.


                                                                 schoolc-chalao-climate change image1


Type of Climate

  • Tropical Wet- Tropical Wet is only found along the equator, usually within 25 degrees of the equator because.  Large areas of Tropical Wet are found in Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  
  • Tropical Wet and Dry- Tropical Wet is only found along the equator, usually within 25 degrees of the equator because.  Large areas of Tropical Wet are found in Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
  • Humid Subtropical- The Humid Subtropical climate is found on the east coast of continents  between 20o and 40o north and south of the equator.  The southeast United States is a good example of this climate.  Florida has a Humid Subtropical climate.
  • Mediterranean- Mediterranean climate is found between the 30o and 45o degree latitudes.  This climate is often found on the western sides of continents.  Mediterranean climate gets its name from the climate found around the Mediterranean Sea.  
  • Marine West Coast- Marine West Coast is usually located along the west coast of mid-latitude continents.  Mid-latitude means midway between the tropics and the arctic/antarctic circle.  Marine West Coast is influenced by the presence of mountains.  This is why it covers more land in Europe than it does in North America--North America's mountains block the humid air from moving farther inland. 
  • Humid Continental- Humid Continental climate is found in the interior of continents between the 30 and 60 degrees latitude, but usually above the 40 degree line.  40 degrees north of the equator means less direct sunlight and therefore less warmth.  This climate is mainly found in the Northern Hemisphere since there are no major landmasses in the Southern Hemisphere.  If you live in northern Indiana, you know all about Humid Continental because that is the climate type you have!
  • Subarctic Tundra- Subarctic climate is usually found in the interior (not coastal) of high latitude continents usually between 50 and 70 degrees latitude.  Since there are no large continents in high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, Subarctic climate is only found in the Northern Hemisphere.  
  • Ice Cap- Ice Cap climate is only located near the poles, but this climate covers nearly 20% of the Earth.  This is the most extreme climate on Earth.  Ice Cap climate is best seen from the maps below, since it is mainly found in Antarctica and the land around the Arctic Ocean, especially Greenland.
  • Arid- Nearly 33% of the Earth's land is covered in Arid climate.  The word arid means dry.  The two colors on the map represent warm and cold Arid climates. If land has an Arid climate it is usually a desert.  Most deserts are found along the 30 degree latitude line (north and south of the equator).  This is due to the pattern of cold water currents, which force dry air over the land.  Other Arid climates exist in the center of continents or in the rain shadow of large mountain ranges.  A rain shadow is land on a side of a mountain that is very dry because the mountain forces warm air higher into the sky, which cools it and it falls as rain, but only on one side of the mountain.  
  • Semiarid- Semiarid climate is always found on the outer edge of Arid climate areas.  The two colors in the map represent cold and warm Semiarid climate areas.  Think of Semiarid as a transition climate between dry and wetter places.  These areas can be very dangerous.  They sometimes receive enough rain to support some farming, but after a few years the area can experience a long drought (no rain) and people can starve.  An example of this would be the Sahel in Sub-Saharan Africa (picture on left).  From 1940-1970 (graph), the Sahel had above average rainfall, but since 1970 rainfall has been below average, which has ruined farms and forced people to move or starve.
  • Highland- Highland climate is the climate of 'high' 'land'.  So, this climate is found in high mountain areas.  It is found on single mountains such as Mount Kilimanjaro and also large areas of high elevation such as the Plateau of Tibet.  The Plateau of Tibet (below) averages 20,000 feet above sea level--it is the largest area of high land on Earth.  This climate is sometimes called Alpine Climate. 

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