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Introduction to the Basic Drivers of Climate Notes.docx

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Paul Thompson

Sept 10/12 Introduction to the Basic Drivers of Climate Article Notes:  Climate - long-term weather in an area and is determined by temp and precipitation o Desert climate = warm +dry o Tropic climate = wet + warm  Most important factor that determines what life is found in a specific region  Climate changes include seasonal cycles, El Nino events (changes over several years) o Long-term climate change occurs due to intensity and distribution of sun’s radiation on earth’s surface Sunlight Intensity & Climate:  Earth is a sphere ;; sun doesn’t reach all of earths surfaces with equal strength o Equator receives more sunlight since rays hit equator directly o Places with higher latitudes (North/South pole) receive sunlight at an angle, which reduces heat and energy that reaches these areas  Seasonal variations occur cuz earth changes orientation (tilts on axis by 23.5°) as earth orbits the sun o Winter in northern hemisphere occurs as northern tip tilts away from sun ;; southern hemisphere gets more sunlight/energy (summer) and vice versa o Both hemispheres receive equal solar input during fall/spring equinoxes o Tropical areas, however, experience less changes Sunlight Intensity Affecting Winds, Precipitation, & Ocean Circulation:  Water and air at equator receives more sun = more heat = molecules are spread out (as to cold conditions) ;; difference in density causes heat to rise  Warm air in tropics = wet (sunlight evaporates water from plants, soils and bodies of water) o Cuz air is warm and less dense, there is enuff room for water molecules in the air mass  But as air passes over cool areas  air and water gets more dense  water falls as precipitation  At the same time, sunlight creates winds ( as warm air ascends, cold air comes in to fill the gap/void) o Tropical air moves away from equator towards poles and as air travels it cools  air drops 30°(due to increase in density)  air then gathers more moisture from new region creating dry conditions  air continues to travel (sometimes back to equator or in as part of a new air mass) and continues to change latitudes (at 60° north or south) and air rises again, cools and releases precipitation  Some of the cold, dry rising air travels to poles where it absorbs more moisture ;; creating cold climates in polar regions  Wind also generated by rotation of earth (
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