5th Grade Science Unit 7

Vermilion Parish Schools "Connecting Students, Home and Schools"

Activity 7: Climate Zones around the World (SI GLEs: 11, 16, 19; ESS GLE: 36)

Materials List: Taking A Closer Look at Climate Zones BLM; class comparison chart; atlases that have maps showing physical features, global wind patterns, ocean currents, and temperatures of different climate zones; available resources such as textbooks, encyclopedias, Internet

Using what was learned from Activity 6 about differences in the climates for each zone, have students hypothesize about what causes these differences.  (nearness to a water body, altitude, latitude, center of large land mass, ocean currents, wind patterns, etc.) As students suggest possible causes for climate differences, list them on the board. Ask each group to gather further information about the climate zone previously researched to determine what factors affect its climate  Students should use textbooks, encyclopedias, or an Internet site to identify each of the factors that affect their climate zone and include the information in the Taking a  Closer Look at Climate Zones BLM. Have each group record what was learned about their climate zone on a class chart for comparison (see sample diagram below).

   Click on picture to enlarge

*Names of zones vary with references used.  Substitute the zones in the chart with ones used in your research.

Once students have investigated and listed the factors that affect a certain zone’s climate, have them use the recorded data on their chart to infer and predict trends, using the prompts below:

  • Does the location on Earth and the angle of sunlight affect temperature? (direct sunlight is more intense than sunlight that hits Earth at a greater angle; therefore, sunlight is bent over a larger area near the poles causing lower temperatures than near the equator where the Sun hits the Earth more directly; also regions far from the ocean experience greater extremes of hot and cold weather, and may also be drier.)

  •  How does temperature affect climate? (temperature affects the amount of evaporation, transpiration, and precipitation that occurs)

  • How does the size and shape of land (topography) affect climate?  (the temperature of air located in low and high altitudes and the direction and speed of winds created by temperature differences and land barriers are examples of how climate is affected by the land’s shape; air masses that develop or are located at the center of a large land mass will have different characteristics than air masses close to water bodies )

  • How does a water body affect the climate of an area?(water requires more energy to raise its temperature and takes longer than land to cool off once the temperature is raised, affecting the direction of the winds and the temperature of the air close to water bodies)

  • How does an area’s latitude affect the climate? (areas closer to the equator receive more of the direct rays of the sun than areas closer to the poles, creating large global temperature differences)

  • How does an area’s altitude affect the climate? (pressure and density of air molecules decrease as altitude increases; the temperature of the air becomes cooler as this occurs)

  • How do ocean currents affect climate?  (Ocean currents are either warm or cold. Warm water currents also warm the air, creating a warmer, moist climate. Cool air does not hold as much water, resulting in cooler and drier climates.)

  • How do global winds affect climate? (global winds move weather from one area to another and are created by the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface)

  • Explain how the interaction of the hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere all affect the climate of an area. (Have students synthesize information from each sphere to determine how each contributes to the climate of an area.)

  • Which climate zones are most affected by water bodies? By latitude? By landforms? By altitude?

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