Chapter 2 The Physical World
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Why to understand physical features?
Major Land and Water Forms
Latitude and Longitude
Each degree of latitude is approximately 111km apart. Since the shape of the earth is not a perfect sphere but an oblate ellipsoid, there is variation.
The world can be divided into hemispheres in two primary ways – Eastern/Western and Northern/Southern.
To locate the coordinates of a point;
For Longitude: Find the prim meridian. Determine if the city is East or West of the Prime Meridian. (E or W)
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
What Time Zone Is It?
International Date Line
When the International Date Line is crossed from the east to the west, a calendar day must be added. When the line is crossed from the west to the east, a calendar day must be subtracted.
For example, in a trip to the US from Japan on a Monday morning, when the International Date Line is crossed, the day changes to Sunday. On a reverse trip on a Tuesday morning, when the line is crossed, the day changes to Wednesday.
Factors affecting climate
Tropical Zone: the area between “Tropic of Cancer” (23,5° North Latitude) and the “Tropic of Capricorn” (23,5° South Latitude). There are only minimal changes in warm temperatures throughout the year.
North Temperature Zone: the area between the Arctic Circle (66,5° North Latitude) and the Tropic of Cancer.
North Polar Zone: the area between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole.
The effects of mountains
Mountains, because of their height, prevent many weather patterns from crossing from the windward (the side of a mountain that the wind hits, generally wetter and greener ) to the leeward (the side of a mountain that is sheltered from the wind, generally drier than the other side) side. Thus on opposite sides of mountain ranges, considerably different levels of precipitation can be found.
Proximity to water
Wind and ocean current patterns
E.g. Water is much colder in Los Angeles than southern shores of Japan. The Caribbean Sea and the eastern coast of the US has warmer water than Europe’s Atlantic beaches (at the same latitude).
On the north and south of the tropics in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres respectively, the wind currents move from west to east (colder) “jet stream” E.g. from Istanbul to Ankara. (West is colder, e.g. Iceland is warmer in winter than locations in Greenland and Canada on the same line of latitude). However, in the tropics, they generally move from east to west (warmer) “trade winds”.
The seasons are then the result of this tilt of the Earth's axis. There are differences in how the rays (sun light) from the sun hit the earth throughout the year. When the rays coming from the sun is relatively direct, the weather gets warmer and the days are longer.
Seasons at Northern and Southern Hemispheres
Climates of the World
A - Tropical humid (tropical rain forest climates); monthly temperature is above 18°C throughout the year. There is no real winter. Rainfall is high, precipitation exceeds evaporation which produces lush vegetation.
E - Polar (Ice Climates); which have no true summer. Average temperatures during the warmest month is below 10°C.
Some Important Terms
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