why do we have different climate zones

If you have ever taken a long, you may have noticed the
can be quite different in different parts of the country. For example, if you travel from Detroit to Miami in December, you may need a large suitcase. The and ice of a Detroit winter may mean you wear boots and a onto the plane, but by the you get to Miami, you will be ready for a swimsuit and shorts! The reason for the difference in is that Detroit and Miami have very different climates. describes what is happening outdoors at a certain at a certain. The can over a short period of. includes daily changes in, temperature, and. , on the other hand, describes the in a specific over many years. is what the is normally like in your city. For example, Houston has a, and Seattle has a. Many factors, such as elevation, ocean currents, distance from the sea, and prevailing winds, can affect the of an area. One of the most important things that influences, though, is. The of an area indicates how far it is north or south of the. affects because it is related to the length and intensity of sunlight an area receives. As Earth orbits the sun, sometimes the Northern Hemisphere is tipped toward the Sun, while at other times the Southern Hemisphere is tipped toward the Sun. When a is closer to the Sun, its days are longer, and the Sun's rays are stronger and more direct. When our hemisphere is tipped toward the Sun, we experience warmer and longer days. This is our summer. When we tip away from the Sun, the days are shorter and colder. This is winter. But none of this explains why Detroit and Miami would have such different on the same day in the same month, does it?


Actually it does! Miami is much closer to the equator than Detroit. This means the tipping of the hemispheres has less extreme effects on Miami than Detroit. Because Miami is closer to the equator, it receives a lot of sunlight and warmth all year long and thus maintains a warm. Climate is all about patterns of weather. We find out more about the different climates on our planet and what causes them to be different from each other. When you hear the words weather and climate you might think they mean the same thing but theyre quite different! It might be rainy today or it might be sunny thats the weather. But climate is the pattern of weather in a place over a much longer time. Different parts of the world have very different patterns of weather. The Earths climate is driven by energy from the sun which arrives in the form of heat. Half of this energy travels through our atmosphere and reaches the Earths surface. The other half is either absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected back into space. Because the Earth is a sphere, the sun s rays reach the earth s surface in polar regions at a much more slanted angle than at equator. So straight away, we know that the Poles are colder than the Equator. When things arent in balance, nature likes to even things out. So the extra energy at the Equator needs to be spread across the planet and its this that creates different climate zones across the world. Warm air rises at the equator and moves toward the poles. Where warm, wet air rises, we get thunderstorms and tropical rainforests.


Where air sinks, it stops clouds from forming so it rains less, even making deserts. How many climate zones are there and how do they differ? 1. Tropical Around the Equator we have tropical climates which are hot and humid, this is where youll find the worlds rainforests. 2. Arid Then there are arid or dry climates like you d find in deserts. 3. Mediterranean Next is Mediterranean with hot dry summers, and cooler wetter winters. 4. Temperate Then there are temperate climates. Thats what we have in the UK, where summers are mild and winters arent too cold. 5. Continental In areas that are a very long way from the sea, the climate is continental with long, cold winters and short, hot summers. 6. Polar Finally, theres polar climates which experience long periods of extreme cold. You might have been to countries like France and Italy, in the Mediterranean, where they have lots of snow in winter and some of their mountains are even snow covered all year round. But they also have beautiful beaches great fun during the hot and dry summers. So if youve got both snow covered mountains and hot beaches, does that mean they dont have a Mediterranean climate? No, it just means that local climates in a country can be different to the regions climate. This can be for lots of reasons high places like mountains tend to be colder because the air is cooler the higher you go. What else can affect local climates? Vegetation can also affect the local climate we experience.


In equatorial rainforests, dense vegetation blocking the wind combined with high temperatures and rainfall means its a very humid place to be! Where theres no vegetation, the air can be much drier and the wind can blow. In busy cities, the air temperature is often warmer than the surrounding countryside, particularly at night-time. This is due to buildings and roads absorbing heat during the day, and giving it off at night. Another thing that can affect a local climate is the wind! It might be that part of a country frequently catches wind from another region this is called a prevailing wind. If its coming from a hotter place, this might raise temperatures, or if its from a colder area, itll cause the local temperature to drop. The oceans also have a part to play in influencing our weather and climate. But just because a place has one climate doesnt mean it wont change. Climate scientists take measurements over long periods of time to track patterns in temperature and rainfall. These help us know what to expect today and in the future but are also a great way to see what changes have happened in the past. It s amazing to think that 20,000 years ago the UK would have been in the Ice Age, and our climate here would have been similar to the Polar climates that we see today! Cold enough to have a pet polar bear! You can hear weekdays from 5pm on Fun Kids! Get the series on your phone or tablet and listen whenever you like at home or in the car! Marina Ventura s Climate Explorers with support from the. Additional support thanks to , and.

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