Climate Natural Systems: Climate Characteristics • • Weather: refers to the combination of temperature, precipitation, cloud cover and wind that we experience every day • Climate: weather patterns in a particular region over the LONG TERM • • • • • • • • • Six major factors affect climate. They are: 1. Latitude 2. Ocean Currents 3. Winds and air masses 4. Elevation (altitude) 5. Relief (mountain barriers) 6. NEAR WATER This Phrase will help you remember the six climate factors: • • LOWER NEAR WATER Latitude • Areas closer to the equator receive more direct sunlight -hotter climate • Areas further away from the equator have less direct sunlight -cooler climate Ocean Currents • Currents bring warm or cold air near the shore. • Then the air affects the climate. Winds and Air Masses • a large volume of air with almost the same temperature and moisture content • As it moves, the air mass takes with it the climate conditions of which it was formed. – Tropical / Polar Elevation • As air rises it expands, loses heat and becomes cooler • on a mountain top it is cooler than at the base Relief • Relief refers to the differences in elevation of the earth's surface. • Mountain ranges act as a barrier to the movement of air- causing precipitation Nearness to Water • areas closer to bodies of water receive more precipitation. • Moderating effect-areas close to water - cooler in summer, warmer in winter (water bodies gain and lose heat more slowly than land) Relief Rainfall Western Cordillera Convectional Precpitation Mainly occurs in the Prairie s Common Frontalfor Rainfall most of Canada • If a warm air mass meets a cold air mass, a Warm Front is the result. The two air masses will generally not mix. The warm air, being less dense, will gently slide over the cold air. As it rises, it will cool and condense into cloud and rain. • A Cold Front occurs when a cold air mass meets a warm air mass. Again, the two air masses do not mix. The cold air, being more dense, forces its way under the warm air. The warm air is forced up quickly. This leads to large Cumulonimbus clouds giving heavy showers, often with thunder, lightning and hail. Clear, crisp skies will often follow the rain.