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Article 1 summary for BIO120

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University of Toronto St. George
Doug Thomson

A RTICLE 1:INTRODUCTION TO THE B ASIC DRIVERS OF C LIMATE What is Climate? - weather includes temperature, rain, cloud cover, wind and humidity - climate is the long-term frequently occurring weather in an area and it is largely determined by temperature and precipitation - climate is the largest factor to the life found in an area - variations in climate include daily and seasonal cycles - changes in intensity and distribution of solar radiation on Earth's surface affects the long-term climate change Sunlight Intensity Is a Key Component of Climate - because the Earth is round, energy from the sun does not reach the surface of the earth with equal strength - areas (such as the equator) that has direct exposure to the sun's rays receive greatest solar energy (energy is condensed to one smaller area) - areas (such as in the higher latitudes) receive less amount of solar energy dispersed in a larger area (the rays reach the surface in an angle), and the rays went through a longer path through the atmosphere - as the earth changes its orientation in space, sunlight intensity changes on some parts of the earth over the course of the year - seasonal variation in solar input occurs because Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5º - winter in the northern hemisphere occurs as the northern tip of the planet tilts away from the sun and the southern hemisphere receives greater solar input and experience summer - tropical areas experience little change in temperature, and their seasons are determined by the presence or absence of rain Sunlight Intensity Affects Global Winds, Precipitation Patterns, and Ocean Circulation Which Are All Components of Climate - at the equator, both air and large bodies of water warm under the influence of the sun - since the molecules of the water are tightly held together in cold temperatures, it is more dense than water molecules in warmer temperatures. This difference in density causes heat to rise - warm air that rises in tropics is wet because plants, soils and bodies of water evaporate and becomes part of the air; since the air is warm and less dense, there is enough room for water molecules within the air mass - but when the air cools in higher latitudes, it reduces density and space for water; this will cause water molecules to condense, form clouds and precipitate - sunlight also creates winds - as warm air moves upward, colder air rush in to fill the space left behind - tropical air moves towards the poles, becomes dense and descends around 30º north- or south- latitude (usually deserts) - this dry air mass, absorbs moisture from the ground, creating dry conditions at these latitudes - some of the air goes back to the equator, and some goes towards the pole as part of a new air mass - the air rises again at 60 north/south latitudes, cools and precipitates (less than tropics) - some of the cold, dry rising air flows to the poles, where it absorbs moisture creating cold climates of the polar regions - rotation of the earth generate winds - westward and eastward winds affect ocean currents - tropical warm waters carry heat towards the poles
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