Weather and Climate

Have you ever watched the Weather Channel? It is great for individuals who are traveling from one city to another. It may be raining in Atlanta but sunny in Philadelphia. Therefore the weather where you live may be totally different than the place you are traveling to. Your local weather news station lets you know if you should expect rain or sunny skies each day of the week. In this module, you will learn how factors such as ocean currents, topography, and air currents affect weather patterns. You will also learn the similarities and differences between weather and climate.

Essential Questions:

  • What impact does latitude have on solar insolation?
  • What is the difference between weather and climate?
  • What impact does latitude have on atmospheric and ocean currents which redistribute heat globally?
  • How does topography impact atmospheric and ocean currents?
  • How do air currents influence weather patterns?
  • How does topography influence weather patterns?
  • How do ocean currents influence weather patterns?
  • What are the primary reservoirs of water on earth?
  • How is water on Earth recycled via the water cycle?

Module Minute

The climate of a region is determined by the history of its weather patterns. A region’s climate is based on its average weather. Climate is the long term weather that we expect in a certain region. Weather is the short term condition of the atmosphere in an area at a particular time. Water, pressure, and temperature have a great impact on weather. Ocean currents and air currents are created by convection. Bodies of water that have a much warmer temperature can provide heat and moisture into the air. As warm wind travels across an ocean it can gather moisture. The water vapor that is collected condenses over land and descends from a cloud in a form of precipitation. The movement of water within the hydrosphere is called the water cycle.

Key Terms

Atmosphere – The mixture of gases surrounding the Earth.

Climate – The long-term prevalent weather conditions of an area determined by meteorological conditions including latitude, temperature, precipitation, and wind in a particular region.

Coriolis Effect – The observed effect of the Coriolis force, especially the deflection of an object moving above the earth, rightward in the northern hemisphere and leftward in the southern hemisphere.

Elevation – The height of something above a given or implied place, especially above sea level.

Latitude – The location on the Earth that is the angular distance of that location north or south of the equator

Ozone – A trace gas located in the atmosphere.

Precipitation – Rain, sleet, hail, snow and other forms of water falling from the sky.

Solar Radiation – The radiant energy emitted by a sun as a result of its nuclear fusion reactions.

Temperature – A measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles in a sample of matter.

Topography – The surface features of a place or region.

Trade winds – The flow of air back to the equator.

Weather – The state of the atmosphere at a particular time and place.