SOLAR ENERGY & CONVECTION'S IMPACT ON CLIMATE (GLOBAL WINDS, JET STREAM, OCEAN CURRENTS)
6.E.2B.3 Develop and use models to represent how solar energy and convection impact Earth’s weather patterns and climate conditions (including global winds, the jet stream, and ocean currents).
The driving energy source for heating of Earth is solar energy. The rotation of Earth on its axis along with differences in the heating of Earth impact weather patterns and climate conditions.
• Land absorbs heat energy and releases heat energy quickly. Water absorbs heat energy and releases heat energy slowly. The differences in these heating patterns cause convection currents.
• Global convection currents are set up in the atmosphere because of the unequal heating of Earth’s surfaces. There are three atmospheric convection areas that influence the climate regions on Earth.
o the tropical region begins at the equator and extends to about 30 degrees latitude;
o the temperate region extends from there to about 60 degrees latitude, and
o the polar region extends from there to the north pole, 90 degrees latitude.
• Global winds occur in each of the climate regions and effect the direction of weather systems on Earth.
o Trade winds and westerlies effect the direction of tropical weather systems (hurricanes).
o Jet streams are fast moving ribbons of air that move from west to east in the Northern hemisphere.
The polar jet stream brings down cold polar conditions from the north.
o Ocean surface currents circulate warm and cold ocean waters in convection patterns and influence the weather and climates of the landmasses nearby.
The Gulf Stream influences the eastern Atlantic shoreline of the United States by bringing warm, moist air.
The cold California current influences its western Pacific shoreline by bringing cold, moist air.
• Global wind belts occur between climate regions because of the characteristics of the convection currents in those regions. The prevailing direction of the global winds in these large regions affects weather conditions.
Three major climate zones (tropical, temperate, and polar) are a result of these global systems.
• Earth’s winds move in a rotated pattern because of the rotation of Earth around its axis. This phenomenon is called the Coriolis Effect and is named after French engineer Gaspard Coirolis who died in 1843.
• Each climate zone has identifying characteristics. Organisms in these regions have adaptions to survive.
• Airplanes ride on jet streams to increase their speed and decrease the amount of fuel they use.
SOLAR ENERGY FACTS
GLOBAL WINDS & THE JET STREAM FACTS