exactly is climate?
Climate is the average
weather conditions for a particular region. It is
calculated by examining weather over at least thirty
We get different
climates because of latitude, distance from the sea,
prevailing winds, ocean currents, and altitudes. In turn,
climate affects a number of other things, including soil
type and quality, and also vegetation.
So why do we get
tropical rainforests near the Equator?
Rainforests are hot, and
receive lots of rain. This is because there is a build-up
of heat on the Equator. Air is forced to rise, causing
low pressure. The rising air then cools, causing daily
thunderstorms. Hot and dry conditions are perfect for
deserts on the Equator? That's where the earth receives
most sun, isn't it?
This is because the
upper air spreads out from the Equator. It cools,
becoming denser, and descends back to earth forming a
high-pressure area, near to the tropics. As the
descending air gets warmer and drier, hot deserts form.
So, most of the world's major deserts are between the
Tropics, but not on the Equator.
Why do deserts
form on the West Side of continents?
This is because the
prevailing winds, in the tropic area, come from the East,
by the time the winds have reached the west they have
lost all their moisture, as precipitation. Also, many
deserts have a mountain range to the east. The increase
in altitude condenses the air and so even more rain falls
before it can reach the desert.
So where does
Britain's climate fit into all this?
Because Britain is an
island, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the English
Channel to the south, and the North Sea to the east (ha,
ha) act as one great big blanket in winter and as an
fridge in summer. We have mild winters, but our summers
are cooler than those on continental Europe.
Why is this?
Ok, here we go. As the
sea is translucent (light can pass through it, but the
reflection of an object is distorted through it), the
infra-red rays from the sun can heat up a greater volume
of this, than land, which is simply a solid mass (the sea
can be heated to a greater depth). Thus, in summer, the
land (receiving the same amount of heat) becomes far
warmer than the sea. Since Britain's prevailing winds
come off the sea, they serve to cool coastal regions in
summer, whilst inland the temperatures are higher. In
winter this affect is reversed as the sea cools far
slower than the land.
Does this effect
occur all over the world?
Simply, yes. One extreme
example is central Siberia. Because it is so far away
from the sea, temperatures in summer peak at around 35'C
but fall to -50'c in the Winter! Additionally, it hardly
ever snows in the winter as there is very little water
vapour in the air.
So does anywhere
else in the world have a climate like Britain's?
Well, there are several
regions of the world which lie on the same latitude as
Britain. In the North, there is Canada, Northern Europe,
Russia and Japan. In the south, there is southern South
America and New Zealand. However, in these places, the
other factors are different, whether it be altitude,
distance from the sea and so on. At a glance, it looks
like Newfoundland in Canada should have similar
conditions, but it must be remembered that the air
reaching Britain is far wetter than that reaching
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