All About Chapter 4 By: Colton ward

The unequal heating of Earth is the driver of atmospheric convection currents. These air circulation patterns are further modified by the deflecting action of the Coriolis effect. The Global Circulation Patterns helps distribute heat and water vapor across the globe, therefore causing different climates and weather.

The difference in weather and climate is defined as the short-term conditions or the atmosphere, and climate is how the atmosphere behaves over relatively long periods of time.

These are the layers of Earth, from the surface outward. the first layer is the Troposphere, then the Stratosphere, followed by the Mesosphere, the Thermosphere, and the Exosphere. The top of the mesosphere is the coldest part of the atmosphere with temperatures averaging at negative 130 degrees F. The troposphere is the layer closest to Earth's surface. Air is warmer near the ground and gets colder higher up. The thermosphere temperatures can get up to 2,700 degrees, while the Exosphere is the coldest, and the stratosphere absorbs most of the suns rays.

Troposphere: the first layer in which earth's weather occurs. Temperature decreases as you reach the next layer

Stratosphere: earth's atmosphere above the troposphere, extending to about 32 miles above the earth's surface

Exosphere: the outermost region of a planet's atmosphere

Mesosphere:  earth's atmosphere above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere, between about 30 and 50 miles

Thermosphere: region of the atmosphere above the mesosphere and below the height at which the atmosphere ceases to have the properties of a continuous medium

The temperature in earths layers changes drastically as we move farther from earth's surface.

The Earth's Tilt: The earth's tilt and orbit around the sun causes seasonal changes in climate. The sun's rays striking various latitudes at different angles causes different amounts of solar energy. The Earth's axis is at a 23.5 degree tilt. During summer, the Northern Hemisphere is most directed at the sun and that is why we have summer. Although the opposite occurs as well, when we are not getting the suns rays directly, we have winter.

The percentage of incoming sunlight that is reflected from a surface is called that location's albedo. Places with fresh snow have the highest amount of albedo because the white snow reflects the light, whereas places like forests and grasslands do not have high albedos.

Convection Currents: Adiabatic cooling is the cooling effect of reduced pressure on air as it rises higher in the atmosphere and expands. Adiabatic heating is the heating effect of increased pressure on air as it sinks toward the surface of Earth and decreases in volume. Warming at Earth’s surface causes air to rise up into thermosphere where it experiences lower pressures, adiabatic cooling, and latent heat release. The cool air near the top of the atmosphere is then displaced horizontally before it sinks back to Earth. As it sinks, the air experiences adiabatic heating.

Albedo is the percentage of of incoming light reflected from a surface. According to the environmental science book, the tropics have a lower albedo than places with snow because white has a higher albedo than places with black surfaces do.

Planet earth is on 23° tilt, as a result of this tilt regions on earth experience a seasonal change. When the northern hemisphere is towards the sun it is summer, when the northern hemisphere is away from the sun it is winter. This is a result of the intensity or angle of sunlight each hemisphere is receiving!

Adiabatic heating is the heating effect of increased pressure on air as it sinks toward the surface. Adiabatic cooling is the direct opposite. Adiabatic cooling is the cooling effect of reduced pressure on air as it rises higher in the atmosphere. They relate to convection currents because the convection currents are the global patterns of air caused by unequal heating of the earth. A Hadley cell is a convection current in the atmosphere that cycles between the equator and 30 degrees N 30 degrees S. Polar Cells are convection currents that are formed by air that rises at 60 degrees N and Sand sink at the poles, 90 degrees N and S.

Two Hadley cells converge at the ITCZ

The ITCZ is the latitude which receives the most direct sunlight. It moves between 23.5 degrees N and 23.5 degrees S because of the earth's axis being tilted, at 23.5 degrees.

"The Coriolis effect is the apparent curvature of global winds, ocean currents, and everything else that moves freely across the Earth's surface. The curvature is due to the rotation of the Earth on its axis." The Coriolis effect makes storms swirl clockwise in the Southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.

Here is a video on the Coriolis effect!

An ocean gyre can be defined as a spiral ocean current. The more gyres that pop up in the oceans, the more change in your local climates and water climates may occur.

Upwelling: is known as the upward movement of ocean water toward the surface because of diverging currents in the ocean. Thermohaline circulation is responsible for distributions nutrients across the globe, because it's an ocean patterns that stirs waters across the globe!

This example photo expresses the key concepts of the El Niño, which occurs every 3-7 years, in which tropical currents move the opposite direction as they usually do! It causes warm waters to be forced toward the United States and Mexico.

Rain shadows: when a mountain has two opposite climates, occur at a mountain when one side of the mountain has a dry climate and the other is more humid and rainy.



A cold and treeless biome with low-growing vegetation

Found in Russia, Canada, Scandinavia, and Alaska

Permafrost- An impermeable, permanently frozen layer of soil

Plants here are small woody shrubs, mosses, they have very low levels of soil nutrients

Boreal Forest

made up primarily of coniferous evergreen trees that can tolerate cold climates Found in Europe, Russia, and NorthAmerica

A very cold biome

Low soil nutrients

Very low precipitation

Temperate Forest

A coastal biome typified by moderate temperatures and high precipitation

Found on the west coast of North America, in Southern Chile, east coast of Australia and Tasmania, and on the west coast of New Zealand

Mild summers and winters

Low soil nutrients, low decomposition

Temperate Season Forest

A biome with warm summers and cold winters with over 39 inches of rain annually

Located in Japan, the eastern US, China, Europe, Chile, and eastern Australia

Warmer summers and colder winters than in temperate rainforests

Main trees are broad leaf deciduous trees, with some coniferous trees present

Fast decomposition


hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters

Located on the coast of Southern California, in Southern South America, in southwestern Australia, in Southern Africa, and a large region near the Mediterranean sea

12 month growing season, held back by low precipitation in summer

Wildfires and drought are common

Plants are drought resistance like the Yucca, scrub oak, and sagebrush

Low soil nutrient

Temperate Grassland/ Cold Desert

A biome characterized by cold, harsh winters, and hot, dry summers

Found in the middle of North America, in South America, in Central Asia, and eastern Europe

Low plant growth- grasses and some flowering plants

Very high in nutrients in soil

Tropical Rainforest

A warm and wet climate

Located in Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and Northern Australia

Very high productivity and rapid decomposition

Highest biodiversity of all terrestrial biomes

Tropical Seasonal Forest/Savanna

A biome characterized by warm temperatures and distinct wet and dry seasons

Found in Central America, the Atlantic Coast of South America, in Southern Asia, Northwestern Australia, and in sub-Saharan Africa

High decomposition rates, Low precipitation

Subtropical Desert

hot temperatures, extremely dry conditions, and sparse vegetation

Located in the southwestern US, the Sahara Desert in Africa, the Arabian desert of the middle east, and the Great Victorian Desert of Australia

Common plants are cacti, euphorbs, and other succulents

This biome has long recovery times when it is disturbed

Aquatic Biomes

​lakes and streams: lakes are nonflowing bodies of water bigger than ponds, streams are narrow small amounts of water flowing

Parts of the lake

​Littoral zone- the shallow zone of soil and water where most algae and emergent plants grow

Limnetic zone- a zone of open water in lakes and ponds

Profundal zone-a region of water where sunlight does not reach, below the limnetic zone in very deep lakes

Benthic zone- the muddy bottom of a lake or pond

Mangrove Swamp

A swamp that occurs along tropical and subtropical coasts, and contains salt-tolerant treeswith roots submerged

Importance of mangroves: often protect coasts from erosion

Salt Marshes: A marsh containing non- wood emergent vegetation, found along the coast in temperate climate

Coral bleaching: when algae inside corals die, causing the corals to turn white

Effects of Coral Bleaching: Fish will need to find new homes, and the coastlines will no longer get protection form coral reefs

The Role of Wetlands: Wetlands can help reduce the impacts from storm damage and flooding, maintain good water quality in rivers, recharge groundwater, store carbon, help stabilize the climate conditions and control pests.

Importance of Mangroves to Coastlines: They help stabilize the coastlines and prevent erosion from waves and storms. In areas where mangroves have been cleared, coastal damage from hurricanes and typhoons is much more severe. By filtering out sediments, the forests also protect coral reefs and sea grass meadows from being smothered in sediment.

The Open Ocean: Deep ocean water, located away from the shoreline where sunlight can not reach the ocean bottom

The photic zone: is the upper layer of ocean water that receives enough sunlight for photosynthesis

The aphotic zone: is the deeper layer of ocean water that does not have enough sunlight for photosynthesis

Sources:, Chapter 4 in Environmental Science for AP Second Edition by Friedland and Relyea starting on page 100.


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