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January 28th

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GEOG 205
Gail Chmura

January 28 , 2013: The Earth System, Local Climates and Carbon  comparison of world climates rely on temperature & precipitation data  Vladimir Koppen o German geographer, meteorologist, climatologist & botanist o 1918 developed most well-known system for classifying world’s climates o was in use for several decades o reason for Koppen system = to find climate boundaries that coincided approximately with major vegetation types  there are 5 climates: 4 defined by temperature, 1 defined by precipitation o divided further by a second letter to give precipitation o subdivided even further by season variations in precipitation, climate  (A) tropical rainy  average temperature above 18C, no winter, high rainfall that exceeds evaporation  (B) dry  evaporation exceeds rainfall, no water surplus (so no stream origins)  (C) mild, humid  coldest month below 18C but above -3C, one month above 10C, distinct summers and winters  (D) snowy forest  coldest months below -3C, one month above 10C  (E) polar  average temperature of warmest month is below 10C, and no summer  C.W. Thornthwaite’s system (1946) was based on water budgets  measured balance of precipitation vs. loss through evaporation, transpiration, runoff & infiltration  temperature variations o latitude  equatorial temperatures warmer; toward poles it’s colder & more variable o coastal vs. continental smaller variations in temperature due to different rates of heating & cooling between ocean & land  precipitation variations o air temperature  warm air holds more moisture o air masses & their movement o positional relative to coast  influences movement & air moisture o terrain (elevation)  influences movement & precipitation  seasonality of precipitation  3 main classifications o uniform precipitation (wet all year round; dry all year round) o precipitation maximum during high sun/summer o precipitation maximum during low sun/winter  wet equatorial belt o prevailing warm temperatures & convection patterns favour rainfall o frequent thunderstorms o 2 000 mm rainfall annually o Amazon river basin, Congo river basin, East Indies  trade-wind coasts o eastern sides of continents, from 25 to 30 degrees north and south o supplied by Trade Winds bringing warm ocean air onto continents, encounter hills & mountains which cause orographic rains o 1 500 – 2 000 mm, locally more o orographic lift: when air mass forced from low elevation to higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain; as air mass gains altitude it quickly cools down which can raise relative humidity to 100% & create clouds/precipitation o Madagascar, Queensland (NE Australia), Central America  tropical deserts o centred on Tropic of Cancer & Tropic of Capricorn o stretch from west coast eastward & northward in interior of continents o hot & barren, clear skies o 250-500 mm, sometimes less locally o caused by location under subsidence of air masses, warmed & dried o rain shadows caused by mountains can block flow of moist winds from ocean o zone of Westerlies come clockwise N & counterclockwise in S o Baja California, Namibia desert  midlatitude deserts & steppes o interior NA & Asia, between 30 & 50 degrees N o vast tracts of desert & semi-arid grasslands (steppes) o range from 100 mm in dry parts to 500 mm in moister areas o formed by rain shadows o
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