APES Chapter 6: Climate and Terrestrial Biodiversity

APES Chapter 7: Climate and Terrestrial
Climate is an important factor influencing biodiversity.
Think about how it influences life on earth. Contrast climate
with weather.
The purpose of this assignment is for you to work through a brief overview of
weather and climate on earth. You should be able to define basic weather
terms; understand how the terms are connected to each other and also
understand how they describe earth’s weather and/or climate. Make sure to
read your text, also. Here, you will build a word web; also known as a concept
map or brain map.
Connect (link with a line) each word to at least two other words (more is
better…it shows a greater depth of understanding).
On the link lines, write a short explanation of how or why you are connecting
the words…i.e. what do you see as the relationship between the words.
Work with a partner so you can talk about what you are doing.
Weather words for your concept map
warm front
cold front
high pressure
low pressure
dew point
ocean currents
El Niño
La Niña
Here are definitions for each term. Feel free to use textbooks in the classroom for
more information.
The horizontal movement of air over the Earth's surface and one of the basic elements of weather.
Thermal differences throughout the world produce variations in air pressure and air will flow
generally from high-pressure to low-pressure areas.
Term that encompasses phenomena in the troposphere of our planet. Refers to the activity of
these phenomena over short periods, such as hours or days. Average atmospheric conditions over
significantly longer periods of time (usually taken over a 30-year time period) is known as climate.
warm front
The transition zone where a warm air mass overtakes and replaces a colder air mass.
cold front
The transition zone where a colder air mass overtakes and replaces a warmer air mass
atmospheric pressure
The amount of force exerted over a surface area, caused by the weight of air molecules above it.
As elevation increases, fewer air molecules are present. Therefore, atmospheric pressure always
decreases with increasing height (units of atm, psi or kPa).
high versus low pressure
High pressure generally creates cooler, dryer temperatures, with little or no clouds, & low pressure
is wetter, cooler temps, more clouds
dew point
Air holds different amounts of water at different temperatures. The dew point is the temperature
to which air with a given quantity of water vapor must be cooled to cause condensation of the
vapor in that air.
Precipitation which forms when separate drops of water fall to the Earth's surface from clouds. Not
all rain reaches the surface; some evaporates while falling through dry air. Water from the earth’s
surface evaporates back to the atmosphere to form rain.
A localized and violently destructive windstorm occurring over land. Characterized by a funnelshaped cloud extending toward the ground/ low pressure air. The most unpredictable weather
event, tornadoes are created during powerful thunderstorms. As a column of warm air rises, air
rushes in at ground level and begins to spin. If the storm gathers energy, a twisting, spinning funnel
The name for a tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour (65 knots) or greater in
the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern North Pacific Ocean.
Tropical cyclones are known as typhoons in the western Pacific and cyclones in the Indian Ocean.
ocean currents
any more or less continuous, directed movement of ocean water that flows in one of the Earth's
El Niño
-A warming of the ocean current along the coasts of Peru and Ecuador that is associated with
dramatic changes in the weather patterns of the region; a major El Niño event generally occurs
every 3 to 7 years and is associated with changes in the weather patterns worldwide.
-The flow of warm water eastward from the Pacific Ocean that reverses the upwelling of cold water
along the western coast of South America and causes significant global changes in weather
La Niña
episodes are characterized by unusually cold ocean surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific,
caused by lower than normal pressure over Indonesia and northern Australia and higher than normal
pressure over the eastern tropical Pacific.
greenhouse effect
The sun’s energy is transmitted through the earth’s atmosphere at many wavelengths. Some solar
radiation is absorbed by the earth itself, and reradiated back to space at a long wavelength. This
long-wave radiation is absorbed by green house gases in the atmosphere and reradiated back to
mountains (as they affect weather)
As stable air approaches a mountain, it slows down due to the blocking effect of the mountain
(similar to the effect of large stones on water flow in rivers). Flow retardation can result in
horizontal-mass convergence upstream of the mountain, and may produce upward air motion and
cloud formation before the mountain slope is reached.
Or, the stable airflow may be forced to flow upslope and over the mountain top on the windward
side, and then descend to its original level on the lee side. Disturbances in the flow on the lee side
and downstream of the mountains can play a major role in cloud and precipitation formation as