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GEOG 205 Lecture Notes - Congo River, Orographic Lift, 30Th Parallel North

Course Code
GEOG 205
Gail Chmura

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January 28th, 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 &
temperature variations
o latitude equatorial temperatures warmer; toward poles it’s colder & more
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
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