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Lecture 2

GEOG 2RW3 Lecture 2: Week 2, Physiography and Climate, Population, Culture

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Michael Mercier

Monday, January 16, 2017 Week 2 Lecture 4, 5, 6 January 16 The Physical/ Natural Environment - Constraints/limits certain human activities - Climatic conditions landforms are often conductive to certain types of human activities - Opportunities for certain human activities - Certain climates and physiographic areas are well suited to certain types of activities. Ex: logging or mining in mountainous areas - Thought human history: - people have adapted their way of life to their natural surroundings - People have adapted their surroundings to suit their way of life. Ex: transforming forests into fields, changing dietary tastes to suit what sauces of food energy were available - Such adaptations results in cultural landscapes - These landscapes are often conspicuous, and are associated with particular signs Climate - Weather: the local and daily conditions of temperature, precipitation, wind, etc - Climate: the typical weather conditions for a place, averaged over a period of time - The climate system involved the interactions of air, water, and the sun’s energy resulting in variations in temperature and precipitation - A series of global and local processes result in variable climatic conditions - 1. Global: such as i) atmospheric circulation, and ii) variations in solar radiation due to the tilt of the earth relative to the sun 1 Monday, January 16, 2017 - 2. Local: such a i) marine effects, and ii) variations in elevation (ie. orographic precipitation) - Diversity of local climatic conditions, but some commonalities exist, resulting in the delineation of ‘Major Climate Regions’ - Major Climate Regions: based on patterns of temperature and precipitation - range from tropical (hot and wet) to arid (dry) and polar (cold) Climate Change - Over millions of years, the earths climate has oscillated between cooler and warmer periods - ice ages - periods of warming - Caused by changes to the tilt of the earths axis - Geological activity - Recent warming of the earths overall climate: blamed on human activity - A rapidly heating planet - the consequences are mostly speculative - and the solutions, to date, remain elusive - Projections: warming for at least a century (even if human behaviours are modified now) - all areas of the planet will experience warming - polar regions are most affected (due to atmospheric circulation) - Polar ice caps and rising sea levels Physiography - Along with climate, physiography produces many aspects of the worlds regions - Landforms, watersheds, river systems, fertile soils 2 Monday, January 16, 2017 - The main driver of physiographic change is known as plate tectonics - a dozen plates: solid rock floating on a layer of molten material - movement of these plates results in earth - building Physiography: Plate Tectonics - the earths surface sits atop these dozen plates - movement of these plates causes land masses to break apart or collide into one another - i) convergent boundaries; colliding of plates, mountain building - ii) divergent plate boundaries: sea floor spreading and rift valleys where volcanic activity produces new crust - iii) subduction: when one plate gets forced beneath another, and its crust gets recycled into new molten material - much of Pacific Ring of Fire is compromised of subduction zones - iv) transform boundaries — where plates slowly and then abruptly rub past one another Physiography: Erosion - Erosion contributes to the modification of these landforms - Erosion can take many forms - wind - water - ice Ecosystems - Together, climate and physiography produce all of the conditions that make the varied nature landscapes of the world 3 Monday, January 16, 2017 - from alpine (mountain) peaks and polar tundra, to tropical rainforest and fertile plains (prairies) - Climatic conditions plus landforms provide opportunities for some flora and fauna, but at the same time constrain the chances for others - too dry, too cold. etc Ecosystems: Vegetation - Climate and physiography, act to produce environments suitable for particular forms of vegetation - the main vegetation regions are: forests, grassland, and shrublands (Arizona) - Key determinant: level of required precipitation Ecosystems: Wildlife - the same principles about environmental conditions apply to animal species as plant species - animal species develop in certain environmental circumstances - certain species adapt to new environmental challenges, and others do not Ecosystems: Human In
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