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Chapter 3 - Lesson 4
Transcript of Chapter 3 - Lesson 4
How Does Climate Change?
Major Climate Zones
Climate is the usual weather conditions of a place. Climate is different in different areas of the world.
Earth is divided into three climate zones. The warmest climates are found in the tropical climate zone. A
is hot and rainy. The tropical climate zone is near the equator. The equator is an imaginary line around Earth. It gets strong sunlight all year.
The coldest climate zones are the areas around the North and South Pole. The poles get the least amount of sunlight on Earth. A
has very cold temperatures year round.
Most of the United States is in a temperate zone. The temperate zones are between the tropical and polar zones. A
often has warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters.
If someone asked you what winter is like in your area, you could not say exactly what the temperature would be or how much snow or rain would fall on a certain day. But you could give a general idea of what the weather would be during winter. In other words, you could describe your climate.
is the usual weather conditions in an area over time. The climate of an area has a lot to do with the kinds of plants and animals that can live there.
Tropical fish can only survive in hot climates where the water is warm.
1. Label the climate zones in the diagram in your book on page 81. Then describe each climate.
d. Temperate climate:
warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters
very cold temperatures, year-round
f. Tropical climate:
hot and rainy
Factors affecting Climate
The amount of sunlight an area gets affects its climate. How much sunlight an area gets depends on its latitude, or its distance north or south of the equator. Low latitudes are near the equator. The Sun is high in the sky and the temperature is hot.
High latitudes are farther from the equator. Sunlight strikes the surface at an angle. The temperature is colder.
Oceans and other bodies of water also affect climate. A large body of water usually causes the climate to be wet and mild.
Altitude, or height above sea level, also affects climate. The higher you travel up a mountain, the colder it gets.
Mountains can affect climate in other ways. Mountains can block the path of air masses. When a warm, wet air mass reaches a mountain, the air mass is forced upward. The air mass cools as it rises. The water vapor in the air mass condenses. It then falls on the mountain as precipitation.
When the air mass moves over the mountain, the air is dry. The land on the other side of the mountain might get so little precipitation that it is a desert.
The Alps are a group of high mountains. The tops are cold and snowy. The climate at the bottom is fairly mild.
2. Fill in the chart to explain the relationship between latitude, Sun height, and climate.
Latitude Distance from Sun Height Climate
a. high farther
b. low nearer
3. Find Georgia on the map on page 82 in your book. Is its climate warmer or colder than that of Maine? Explain your answer.
warmer, Georgia is at a lower latitude than Maine. It would receive more sunlight and so be warmer.
Circle the correct answer.
4. Height above sea level affects climate. The term scientists use for "height above sea level" is
5. What happens when a warm, wet air mass moves over a mountain?
The air mass is forced upward. It cools as it rises, and the water in it condenses and falls as precipitation. Dry air moves over the top of the mountain.
How Climates Have Changed
The climate where you live has likely been the same for many years. But climates do not stay the same forever. They can change both in certain spots and over the whole Earth.
Much of North America was covered by ice about 20,000 years ago. This period of time is called the ice age. Since the ice age, Earth's climate has become warmer. Many scientists think that Earth's climate may still be warming.
6. How has Earth's climate changed since the last ice age?
It has become warmer.
Scientists believe that Earth's atmosphere has been damaged so that harmful rays can reach Earth's surface. Think back to what you have learned about Earth's atmosphere. Which layer do you think has been damaged?
I know that the stratosphere keeps much of the harmful part of the Sun's rays from reaching Earth. Therefore, I think it must be the stratosphere that has been damaged.
Scientists learn about climate in different ways. They look at tree rings in very old fossils to learn what the climate was like when the tree was alive. Scientists have also taken core samples of ice from Antarctica, at the South Pole. This ice can be hundreds of years old. Each layer hold traces of air from long ago. These ice core samples have helped scientists understand how climates have changed.
Each layer of an ice core holds bits of dust, gases, and other things. Scientists can tell what the atmosphere was like in the past by studying ice cores.
Climate refers to the average long-term weather conditions. Climate changes with latitude and altitude, as well as over time. List two ways that scientists learn about climate.
They study fossil tree rings.
They study core samples of ice from Antarctica.
Cause and Effect
What causes a polar climate to be so cold?
The poles receive the least amount of sunlight on earth.
The polar climate is cold.
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