Factors Affecting Climate
Latitude
 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
Equator.
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The low latitudes receive the most direct sunlight year
round
Warm to hot climate, very tropical
Latitude
 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
latitudes
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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
cold
There can be dramatic seasonal weather changes
 Describe what your closet would look like in each of
the three latitude areas?
Elevation
 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
 Wind distributes the suns heat around the earth
 Winds blow in patterns, not at random, called
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prevailing winds
Winds are often named for the direction they blow or
from names given during early history when sailing was
important
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
weather
Landforms
 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
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Factors Affecting Climate