Factors Affecting Climate
 How far north or south a place is on Earth can
determine what type of climate it has
 Low latitudes – the area between the Tropic of
Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, including the
The low latitudes receive the most direct sunlight year
Warm to hot climate, very tropical
 High Latitudes – the earth’s polar areas
 Very cold due to a lack of direct sunlight
 Mid-latitudes – the area in between the high and low
In the summer the mid-latitudes are warm
In the winter the mid-latitudes are cold
In general, the climate is temperate – not too hot, but not too
There can be dramatic seasonal weather changes
 Describe what your closet would look like in each of
the three latitude areas?
 Elevation can affect climate in an area
 As elevation increases the earth’s atmosphere thins
 Thinner air retains less heat, so temperature drops
 In general for every 1000 feet of elevation increase,
the temperature will drop 3.5 degrees
 EXAMPLE: Quito, Ecuador has an average
temperature that is 32 degrees cooler than other
cities nearby
 Wind distributes the suns heat around the earth
 Winds blow in patterns, not at random, called
prevailing winds
Winds are often named for the direction they blow or
from names given during early history when sailing was
Trade winds – the wind that blows in the low latitudes
Westerlies – the wind that blows in the mid-latitudes
Polar easterlies – the wind that blows diagonally east to
west pushing cold air toward the mid-latitudes
Ocean Currents
 Just like wind, water in the ocean moves in patterns
called currents
 Ocean currents have a tremendous affect on the
climate in coastal areas
 For example, a warm water current flows from the
Caribbean Sea toward Europe. That is why places
like England typically do not have bitterly cold
 Bodies of water, mountains, and other landforms can
affect climate
 Example: Lake Michigan causes very strong wind to
come off the lake and hit Chicago
 Example: The Rain Shadow Effect in California

Factors Affecting Climate