Chelsea DeRouchey GEO100Module 2 Paper 01/06/18″Explain the reasons for the change in climate from season to season. Why do different regions of the contiguous US have different climates?”One of the easiest and earliest ways of marking passing time as humans has been by the seasonal changes that occur every year- from the budding and hopeful spring, to glorious summer, into the burst of color that is fall, and finally into blustery winter. But what causes seasons, and why do seasons vary in intensity from region to region? Further questions arise when pondering why different regions in the US have different climates.
Changes in climate from season to season are caused by the Earth’s 23.5 degrees tilt in axis (Dahlman, 2015). As Earth rotates around the Sun this axial tilt means that for half the year the Northern Hemisphere is pointed more directly at the Sun, and the other half of the year the Southern Hemisphere is.
This results in opposite seasons for the two hemispheres. Generally, regions around the equator see very little seasonal changes because the angle that the Sun strikes changes minimally throughout the year, but as distance from the equator increases, the cooler the summer and winter temperatures become (Connors, 2016). Were the Earth to not have this axial tilt, and instead be at a right angle in correlation to the Sun, day and night would be equal year round and there would be no seasonal changes (Connors, 2016). If this were the case, population would likely be much more dense around the equator, as survival at higher latitudes would be difficult, if not impossible, due to consistently harsh and unforgiving climates (Dahlman, 2015). The orientation of a hemisphere in relation to the Sun changes both the duration and intensity of solar radiation, or insolation, thus resulting in seasons (Pidwirny, 2006). When a hemisphere is oriented towards the Sun it receives more intense solar radiation because the Sun’s rays are striking the Earth at a more direct angle, and this angle also produces days with more hours of sunlight (Dahlman, 2015). This solar radiation results in summer.
The opposite is true when a hemisphere is pointed away from the Sun. Caused by the reduction in the angle of incidence, the Sun’s energy is distributed over a larger area and the intensity of solar radiation becomes less, and thus results in cooler days with less hours of daylight (Pidwirny, 2006). The United States may not be the largest country in the world, but it does feature impressive cultural diversity as well as geographically diverse climates. In the contiguous United States, nine distinct regional climates have been identified (Franco, 2013).
The climate of a region depends on a variety of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, the distance from the sea, physical topography of the region, and the distance from the equator (U., 2013). Regions that are coastal feature cooler and wetter climates than their inland counterparts.
The physical geography of a region plays a large role in determining climate as well. Areas like the Rocky Mountains, with higher altitudes receive more rainfall than low lying areas because as air rises it cools leading to condensation and precipitation. Mountainous regions will also experience cooler temperatures than those closer to sea level due to air thinning and thus less able to absorb and retain heat (U., 2013). Another key factor is a location’s distance from the equator. As distance from the equator increases, the sharper the angle of the sun’s rays that reach it, causing the sun’s rays to spread over a greater area (Latitude, 2015). Hence, higher latitudes, i.e.
the northern states, are colder than states closer to the equator. As mentioned previously, the United States also has very diverse culture, and climate is a contributing factor to this. Climate influences a variety of aspects of life in a region as humans adapt to the environment.
The climate dictates everything from clothing worn, architecture, and agriculture (Society, 2012). Climate and seasonal changes from region to region are due to the amount of solar radiation a region receives, as well as latitude, altitude, physical topography of a region, as well as a multitude of other factors. The axial tilt of the Earth causes the seasonal changes that allow for life at relatively high latitudes and is responsible for the amount of daylight and solar radiation a location receives.