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Seasons and Climate

  • Seasons and Climate

    The Earth not only orbits the Sun, but also rotates on its own axis as it does so. The Earth’s axis is in fact tilted – meaning that neither of the Earth’s poles faces the Sun directly. This tilted axis is responsible for weather and different climates.

    What are the factors that influence weather on the Earth? A Temperature, rainfall, wind, cloud and atmospheric pressure are the main factors that influence weather patterns across the world. Wind is caused by the unequal heating of the Earth’s surface. When the air above a certain region becomes warm and light, it rises and the heavier cool air sweeps across from another area to take its place. This movement of air is called wind. Atmospheric pressure also affects the movement of wind, which always flows from a region of high pressure to that of low pressure. The difference in pressure between the two areas determines the speed with which the wind blows. If there is a small difference, we feel a breeze. If the difference is large, it leads to a storm. If the wind is flowing over a large water body such as a sea, it can pick up moisture and carry clouds and rain with it. Low pressure usually means stormy weather and rain, while high pressure usually means lots of sun and not much wind. There are other factors, such as the ocean currents created by the Earth’s rotation, which also influence weather. Planet Earth Seasons and Climate The Earth not only orbits the Sun, but also rotates on its own axis as it does so. The Earth’s axis is in fact tilted – meaning that neither of the Earth’s poles faces the Sun directly. This tilted axis is responsible for weather and different climates. Quick Q’s: 1. What causes day and night? The Earth turning on its axis is responsible for day and night. At any time, half the Earth faces the Sun, where it is day, and half faces away, where it is night. 2. Does the Sun really rise in the east? The Earth spins in an eastward direction. This makes the Sun appear as if it is rising in the east and setting in the west. 3. Why are days longer in summer and shorter in winter? The angle at which sunlight falls on a particular area determines the length of day and night in that region. During summer the Sun stays above the horizon longer, making the days longer. 4. What is the Coriolis effect? The wind moves to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. This is called the Coriolis effect. It is caused by the Earth’s rotation. It is mainly responsible for thunderstorms and hurricanes. Q How is weather different from climate? A Sunlight falls at varying angles onto the Earth’s surface, heating up each of its regions differently. The difference in temperature eventually leads to different types of weather. A climate is when particular weather conditions prevail in a place for an extended period of time. So we can talk about the weather tomorrow or this month, but when we talk of climate we are talking of much longer time periods – decades or even centuries. Q What is a season? A Each season is a period within a year defined by distinct weather. The tilt in the Earth’s axis is responsible for seasons. In temperate and polar regions four seasons are recognized – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Some tropical and subtropical regions have a rainy season (sometimes called a monsoon season) and a dry season, while others have hot, rainy and cool seasons. 28 The blowing wind The wind always blows from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure.

     

     

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