Cold Environments - Glaciers Notes for Geography

Cold Environments - Glaciers Notes for Geography

Fators for making a glacier

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  • Created on: 27-11-12 04:54
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Educational Resources--Cold Environments
Climate factors that cause cold climate environments
The low temperatures that characterise cold climate environments are
the result of four factors: latitude, altitude, continentality and the tem-
perature of ocean currents.
Latitude: In high latitude areas (i.e. 60-90°N/S of the equator) the
angle sun in the sky is low (Fig 1). This means that incoming solar en-
ergy passes through a greater thickness of atmosphere than in temper-
ate (30-60°N/S) or tropical (0-30°N/S) regions, and as a result a rela-
tively large proportion of solar energy is lost due to, absorption, back
scattering or reflection (Fig 2). Furthermore, the low angle of incidence
means that the remaining solar energy is spread over a wide area, and
much of this incident energy is immediately reflected back into the at-
mosphere from the surface of snow and ice (Fig 1). Therefore. polar
areas, experience relatively little surface heating and the climate is Fig 2 Schematic diagram of the atmospheric energy budget in polar areas
particularly cold during mid-winter when these regions are in perpetual
darkness. Altitude: Temperatures decline with altitude because air becomes
thinner with height, and hence is less able to trap heat. Furthermore,
Fig 1
there is less land to absorb and re-radiate heat from the sun. The de-
crease in temperature with altitude is known as the environmental
lapse rate and on average are 6.4oC per 1000m. This dramatic fall in
temperature explains why Mount Kilimanjaro (5895 m) in central Afri-
can is crowned with an ice cap while the surrounding lowland plains are
tropical grasslands.
Distribution of Land and Sea (Continentality): The ability of land
and sea to absorb heat and radiate it back into the air above varies
greatly. In general, land (soil and rock) warms up more quickly, and is
able to release the stored heat at a faster rate, than water. This con-
trasting nature has a dramatic effect on the pattern of seasonal climate
around the world. For example, continental interiors are much warmer
than coastal areas during the summer because heating is more intense

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In Climatic Characteristics of Cold Environments
contrast, continental interiors are much colder than
Glacial Environments: The
coastal areas during winter because the land has lost
climate of glacial environ-
its stored heat, whereas, the sea is still radiating heat that it absorbed
ments is extremely variable
during the previous summer.…read more

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Alpine: The climate in high alpine areas (Photo 3) is
characterised by very low temperatures, high precipi-
tation and winds speeds that frequently exceed hurri- Region Latitude Altitude of Treeline
cane force. Under such harsh climatic conditions trees can not survive Kilimanjaro o
0N 4500 m
and hence this dis- o
Himalayas 20 N 4000 m
tinctive cold climate
regime lies above European Alps 40oN 2000-4000 m
the treeline (Table Iceland 60 N Sea Level
1) (the upper alti-
tudinal limit of
trees).…read more


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