Lesson: What to Wear? What to Drink? Weather Patterns and Climatic RegionsContributed by: Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder
Educational Standards :
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this lesson, students should be able to:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
Preparation: In advance of the lesson, print the Clothing & Food Note Cards attachment (see Figure 1) on card stock and cut out the individual note cards, omitting the climate titles. Or, print out the attachment on regular-weight paper, and attach the cut-out paper slips to heaver paper or note cards. Make enough cards for each team of five or six students to have one.
(Divide the class into teams of five or six students each.)
You represent separate families that live in very different parts of the world. Today, you are going to role play for a little while to figure out where your family lives. Your "family" gets all your clothing and food from the area near where you live (it is not imported from another location).
(Hand out to the teams the descriptions of their family situations as cut from the Clothing & Food Note Cards attachment [see Figure 1].) This card lists examples of clothing your families wear and foods your families eat.
Take a few minutes to consider the clothing and food items, and think about what weather and climate conditions they might indicate. Write on the back of the card a description of the weather and climate conditions where your family lives, and your best guess at what type of climate you live in.
(Wait a few minutes.) Now, let's have one person from each family tell the class what characteristics they wrote down, while another person from that family writes them on the board (or on large-size chart paper). (Wait for students to list all of their characteristics.) Do you know in what climate your family lives? (Add more adjectives to the lists, as necessary. For example, tropical: warm and moist year round, lush, lots of precipitation; desert: little precipitation, hot days, cold nights; coastal: near large bodies of water, cool temperatures, winds; alpine: low temperatures, high altitude, winds, short growing seasons.) (Leave the student lists on the board or save if on chart paper, for easy reference during this lesson's hands-on activity or further climate, water and weather study.)
These are just some characteristics of a climate. Conditions change throughout the year as impacted by weather and seasons.
Why do you think that different climates exist? (Answer: There are different factors that contribute to making different climates, including weather and seasons.) Would you find an alpine climate on the beach? Would you find a coastal climate on top of a mountain? Why not? Well, because different factors determine the climate of different places. What are the different factors? There are five main factors that determine climate. Let's learn a little more about them. (Start a list on the classroom board with the heading, Factors that Affect Climate.)
Okay, which of these five factors relates to water? What about drinking water? Depending on the type of climate in which people live, from where might they get their water? Which factors relate to weather temperature and precipitation? How do people keep warm or cool? Dry? Where might people get clothing? How do different types of clothing help protect people from the weather? These are all things that we are going to think about today.
Do you think climatic regions and weather patterns affect how people live their lives? Yes, they do! While some people have found ways to engineer artificial climates (such as air conditioning the inside of a building), people all over the world still need to plan for the weather. We have already learned a little bit about how different climatic regions affect the types of clothes people might wear and their water source, but what types of clothes work the best in different climates and how can they be made? From where do you get drinking water if you live in the desert? Did you know that engineers can help people get clean drinking water? Engineers design water systems for cities and countries that are not located near a source of fresh water. Did you know that engineers can help design clothing? Well, they do. They develop clothing materials that help keep people warm or cool, depending on their climate. Engineers also develop new technologies to predict daily weather and protect people from weather elements such as rain, temperature changes and storms.
Lesson Background & Concepts for Teachers (Return to Contents)
Tropical climates mainly occur in the tropical zone, which is the region of the earth between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Every point within this region receives perpendicular rays of the sun for at least one day of the year. The entire zone receives sunshine more directly than other areas, which results in a higher average annual temperature and less-drastic seasonal changes than other zones. Instead of temperature changes, seasons are marked by rain changes, such as monsoon rains.
The tropic region also contains other climates, since other factors affect climate. This region also contains the largest tropical rain forests: the Amazon and Congo. These forests have high amounts and variety of vegetation due largely to monsoon rains. High temperatures and rainfall make rubber, tea, coffee, cocoa, spices, bananas, pineapples, oils, nuts and lumber abundant for use and export.
Some cities with tropical climates are: Bombay, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Nairobi, Kenya; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Desert climates generally refer to regions that receive little precipitation. Even so, they often have a wealth of life. Some of this life remains hidden during the daylight to preserve moisture. Soil in a desert region is often composed of sand, sand dunes, rocky terrain, and sometimes contains valuable mineral deposits. Desert classification is based upon a combination of the number of days of rainfall, total annual rainfall, temperature and humidity. In the currently accepted system, extremely arid (dry) lands have at least 12 consecutive months without rainfall, arid lands have less than 250 mm (10 inches) of annual rainfall, and semiarid lands have a mean annual precipitation of 250-500 mm (10-20 inches). Arid and extremely arid lands are deserts, whereas semiarid grasslands are called steppes.
However, there are places recognized as deserts that do not quite fall into these categories. This difference is described by a term called "potential evapotranspiration." This refers to the combination of water loss through atmospheric evaporation, combined with the evaporative loss of water through the life process of plants. Thus, evapotranspiration refers to the amount of water that could evaporate in any given region. There are also different forms of deserts. Cold deserts can be covered in snow; these regions do not receive much precipitation and what falls remains frozen. These climates are often referred to as tundra. Lastly, deserts can be classified by their geographical location and dominant weather patterns.
Nearly all of desert surfaces are plains where eolian deflation has occurred, which means that the removal of fine-grained material by the wind has exposed loose gravel. The remaining surfaces are composed of bedrock outcrops, desert soils, fluvial deposits, playas and desert lakes. Within deserts, there may be oases, which are vegetated areas that are moistened by springs, wells or irrigation.
Most desert plants are drought- or salt-tolerant. Some of these plants store water in their leaves, roots and stems. Others have long taproots that penetrate the water table, anchor the soil and control erosion. Rain falls occasionally in deserts, and storms are often violent.
Examples of deserts and desert climates are Moab, Utah; and the Rajasthan Desert, India.
Alpine climates are generally above tree line, which is the altitude at which trees stop growing. At these high elevations, the climate becomes colder. This is described by the lapse rate of air, which refers to the phenomena of air getting colder as it rises, since it expands. The dry adiabatic lapse rate, which is temperature change that occurs over elevation, is 10°C per km of elevation or altitude. However, this relationship is approximate as other factors can also modify the climate.
Biotemperature refers to the mean annual temperature, where all temperatures below 0°C are treated as 0°C. If the mean biotemperature is between 1.5-3°C, then the climate is quantified as alpine. Alternatively, it is classified as subpolar if the low temperature is caused by latitude.
Examples of alpine climates are the Tibetan Plateau and Vail, Colorado.
The oceanic climate is typically found along west coasts at the middle latitudes of all of the continents, and in southeastern Australia. Similar climates are also found at higher elevations in the tropics. These climates are characterized by a narrower range of temperatures and receive significant amounts of precipitation in the summer. Thus, precipitation is adequate and reliable at all times of the year. They are also usually classified as humid with respect to precipitation, except for Patagonia. Examples of oceanic climates are Barbados and the Galapagos Islands.
Groundwater simply refers to water that comes from the ground. Its source is any precipitation that soaks into the ground, including rain, snow, sleet and hail. Gravity moves this water down into the ground, eventually reaching a depth at which the ground is filled with water. The top of this zone is called the water table. Groundwater is stored in the ground within materials such as gravel or sand. An aquifer is an area that holds a lot of water and can be pumped with a well. People use wells to pump groundwater from the aquifer to cities, houses or crops.
Surface water refers to water in lakes, rivers or oceans. Sometimes groundwater and surface water trade places as groundwater moves through the ground into a lake or stream. Alternatively, water in a lake can soak down into the ground and become groundwater.
Vocabulary/Definitions (Return to Contents)
Associated Activities (Return to Contents)
Lesson Closure (Return to Contents)
Everyday, climate and weather influence us. From precipitation and temperature, weather affects the way we live our lives. Weather can affect what we wear as well as our daily activities, such as travel to school. In what kind of climate do we live? Is it usually hot? Cold? Rainy? Windy? How did our climate and weather have an effect on what we wore to school today? How did our climate and weather have an effect on the design of our school building and our homes? Our climate also affects what we drink and how we get our water. Why do engineers need to know about climate and weather? That's right; engineers design materials to protect people and technologies to provide clean drinking water. Engineers also design technologies that make our lives better by predicting weather, so we have advance notice of weather changes and storms.
Attachments (Return to Contents)
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Brainstorming: As a class, have students engage in open discussion. Remind them that in brainstorming, no idea or suggestion is "silly." All ideas should be respectfully heard. Take an uncritical position, encourage wild ideas and discourage criticism of ideas. Have students raise their hands to respond. Write their ideas on the board. Ask the students:
The Inflatable Globe Exercise: This exercise requires an inflatable globe. Toss the globe around the room and ask students to say the name of the country and/or city that their right index finger lands on. Ask the student what sort of weather patterns s/he might expect at this location and what climates might be observed there and why. After the student is finished, s/he tosses the globe to another student, to do the same. To review and show the variety around the world, have another student write the countries/cities on the classroom board along with the predicted weather and climates.
Drawing: Randomly assign groups of students different climatic regions. Ask them to draw the following, identifying the specific regional characteristics and features:
Lesson Summary Assessment
Follow the Monsoon: Johnny Monsoon is a materials engineer from South Africa. The monsoon season in most of the world has ended, but a sudden, unexpected seasonally shift in wind patterns has caused a monsoon rain that has taken shape in much of the world. Mr. Monsoon has been called upon to help people respond to protecting themselves from the increase in torrential rains in the hot and humid regions of the world. Unfortunately, the rains have also influenced global travel and while Mr. Monsoon needs to follow the monsoon all over the world to help people, he finds himself all over the place, not quite knowing where he is. Help him to get back on track by following the clues:
Lesson Extension Activities (Return to Contents)
Have students research a specific location and develop a project that takes into consideration that location's climate, weather, people, food clothing, water, etc.
Create a data collection activity that requires students visit NOAA, GLOBE, etc., websites to find comparative temperatures and precipitation statistics for different climatic regions.
Expand the contrast and comparison exploration of climates to include other climates, such as steppe, mid latitude and tundra.
References (Return to Contents)
Alpine Climate. Last modified March 14, 2006. Wikipedia Online Free Encyclopedia. Accessed March 14, 2006. (Source of teacher background Information on alpine climates) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpine_climate
Desert. Last modified March 14, 2006. Wikipedia Online Free Encyclopedia. Accessed March 14, 2006. (Source of teacher background Information on desert climates) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_climate
Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Accessed March 14, 2006. (Source of some vocabulary definitions, with some adaptation) http://www.dictionary.com
Oceanic Climate. Last modified March 7, 2006. Wikipedia Online Free Encyclopedia. Accessed March 14, 2006. (Source of teacher background Information on oceanic climates) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oceanic_climate
Tropics. Published January 2004. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. New York, Columbia University Press, 2001-2005, Bartleby.com. Accessed March 14, 2006. (Source of teacher background Information on tropical climates) http://www.bartleby.com/65/tr/tropics.html
ContributorsJay Shah, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, Denise W. Carlson
Copyright© 2006 by Regents of the University of Colorado.
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder
Acknowledgements (Return to Contents)
The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.