Introduction: (Initial Observation)
The north pole is always cold and near the equator is always warm. As we distant ourselves from the equator and go towards the north pole, the weather gradually changes and becomes colder. It seems that our proximity to the equator is an important factor on the general weather condition of any region. This general weather condition is known as the climate for that specific region. Climate is the meteorological conditions, including temperature, precipitation, and wind, that characteristically prevail in a particular region.
Although the distance from the equator is an important factor on the climate, it is not the only one. There are many cities in the United States from the east coast to the west coast that are on the same latitude, and therefore are the same distance away from the equator, and yet they have completely different climates.
In this project we will investigate the factors that affect the climate.
Climate: average condition of the atmosphere near the earth’s surface over a long period of time, taking into account temperature, precipitation (rain), humidity, wind, barometric pressure, and other phenomena.
Climate, its changes and the way that it affects our lives has been the subject of research for many years and by many organizations.
Each organization performing research on climate usually focus on a certain aspect of climate research. For example:
- U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program (CCSP) – investigates the rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and its potential impact on future climate.
- U.S. Global Change Research Program – seeks to increase the skill of predictions of seasonal-to-inter annual climate fluctuations and long-term climate change.
- U.S. Global Change Data and Information System (GCDIS) – is a federal multi-agency site for Global Change-related data, policy, research, and news.
- U.S. National Assessment – studies the regional and sectoral consequences of climate change for the nation.
For a quick search on more organizations in charge of climate research, click here.
In the past few years, climate research has gained special respect and attention because of a sudden increase in the Earth’s temperature. This is also known as global warming. Global warming is when polar ices melt and therefore raise the water level in the world’s oceans. Raise of water level will expand oceans in a way that many dry lands will be covered by water. Many cities, farms, factories and roads will become part of ocean and the world map will change for ever. Because of the importance of these events, many organizations are doing research on the causes of global warming and some others are trying to predict the effects of these events.
Factors that affect climate and the effect of climate in our lives is the subject of this ScienceProject.
What affects the climate?
No one can doubt that the sun is the chief driving force for our terrestrial climate. The annual march of the seasons, as the Earth’s axis of rotation tilts toward or away from the sun’s direction, is sufficient proof of that. It is apparent that global climate is sensitive to relatively small changes in the distribution of sunlight.
Oceans also affect the climate and rainfall. Oceans interact with the atmosphere in two main ways. The first way is physically, through the exchange of heat and water. Covering more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and containing about 97 percent of its surface water, the ocean stores vast amounts of energy in the form of heat. Moreover, the ocean has a relatively large temperature resistance to change. Earlier scientists perceived the ocean as an unchanging “desert” due to its slow circulation (relative to the circulation of the atmosphere) and its low biological productivity. Yet, today we know the biological and physical functioning of the ocean system can change quickly over both small and large areas. Since it often drives the timing and patterns of climate change, the ocean was recently labeled by some scientists as the “global heat engine.” Click here for more information.
The purpose of this project is to identify the factors that affect the climate and the effect of climate on our lives. We will attempt to design experiments to explain the cause of seasons and various climates on the Earth.
Variables that may affect the climate of a region are:
- The proximity to the equator
- The proximity to the ocean
- The elevation
- Amount of forests and vegetation
The above variables may affect the average weather condition such as temperature, rain, wind, humidity, hours of daylight.
My hypothesis is that the sun is the main energy source for the earth and the hours of sun-light is a main factor on the climate of an area, however other factors such as ocean, forests and mountains affect on the absorption and distribution of the heat and as a result they affect the climate too.
Design an experiment to test each hypothesis. Make a step-by-step list of what you will do to answer each question. This list is called an experimental procedure. For an experiment to give answers you can trust, it must have a “control.” A control is an additional experimental trial or run. It is a separate experiment, done exactly like the others. The only difference is that no experimental variables are changed. A control is a neutral “reference point” for comparison that allows you to see what changing a variable does by comparing it to not changing anything. Dependable controls are sometimes very hard to develop. They can be the hardest part of a project. Without a control you cannot be sure that changing the variable causes your observations. A series of experiments that includes a control is called a “controlled experiment.”
(Select one or more experiment of your choice)
Experiment 1: For the main experiment of this project, we record the climate of our town for a period of time such as a week or a month.
It is good if you use your own equipment and actually observe and record temperature, air pressure, wind and rainfall. You may also use information that others have gathered and published in your local newspaper or on the Internet.
Record the results in the table similar to the following.
|14/3/2001||41° F||29.91 in||WNW at 6 mph||0|
Such information can be found at http://www.worldclimate.com/
For today’s information use http://www.weathersite.com
Experiment 2: (The effect of mountains in climate)
In mountains, heat energy from the sunlight needs to be distributed into a larger surface area. This will therefore reduce the average weather temperature in mountains. In this experiment we will build a model of a mountain and a model of a flat land to see how the sunlight distributes heat in these two regions.
Use two same size deep trays for this experiment. Trays can be made of plastic or metal.
In one tray put a layer of sand about one inch thick.
In the other tray construct a mountain using small stones, gravel and sand. If you want a permanent model you may bound stones to each other using glue or cement; otherwise, simply place them on the top pf each other to form the mountain. (Since stones are heavy, you may not be able to take your model to school; however, you can take pictures of your experiment setup and include the pictures in your display.)
Very light gravels known as perlite may be available at your local hardware store or craft store.
Place one thermometer in each area and turn on a flood light above each tray.
Make sure the lights are identical and are the same distance from the tray. Turn on the lights and start recording the temperature every 5 minutes for one hour. Then turn off both lights and continue to record the temperature every five minutes for another one hour.
Since your mountains are very small, the changes in temperature will also be small.
It may not be possible for everyone to construct a mountain from stone, gravel and sand. The following is an alternative procedure for making mountains from paper.
Use black or dark color heavy paper to build a flat surface and a mountain in a small space of about 8 x 12. Place one room thermometer in each section. Turn on a desk lamp right above the dividing line of these two sections in a way that both sections will get equal amounts of light and heat.
Read the thermometer and see how the temperature increase in these two regions.
Usually mountains create a lot of shadow that reduce the rate of temperature increase.
Using electrical lamps will require adult supervision and support.
Experiment 3: (The effect of ocean in climate)
This is by far the most important experiment in this project. Experience shows that areas close to the ocean or any large body of water have milder climates. The days are not very hot and the nights are not very cold. Summers are not very hot and winters are not very cold. Is it possible that water is effective in balancing the temperature and reduce the changes in temperature? This experiment will test the effect of water on climate.
Use two same size deep trays for this experiment. Trays can be made of plastic or metal.
In one tray put a layer of sand about one inch thick.
In the other tray also put about 1″ sand, but then move the sands to one side and fill the other side with about 1″ water. This must look like a shoreline or coastal area.
Place one thermometer in each area (over the sand) and turn on a flood light above each tray.
Make sure the lights are identical and have the same distance from the tray. Turn on the lights and start recording the temperature every 5 minutes for one hour. Then turn off both lights and continue to record the temperature every five minutes for another one hour.
Using electrical lamps may require adult supervision and support.
Experiment 4: (How does the tilted axis of the Earth affect the climate?)
The tilted axis of the earth will cause different hours of daylight and different angles of sunshine.
Use a Styrofoam ball as the Earth and mount it on an axis that is tilted about 23 degrees. (Make it tilted away from sun). Paint the ball with black paint. Draw equator and latitude lines on the ball. Use a focused flood light to be the sun. Use a thermometer to check the temperature in the upper and lower hemispheres before you turn on the light bulb and after about 30 minutes. Compare the results.
Check the latitude line that you have drawn. Compare the latitude line of the northern hemisphere and those of the southern hemisphere. Which one gets more light and which one gets less?
Using electrical lamps require adult supervision and support.
Additional Experiment Designs:
For additional experiment as part of this project, we try to make a few equipment used at a weather station.
Make a Anemometer:
- five 3 ounce paper Dixie cups
- two straight plastic soda straws
- a pin
- hole puncher
- small stapler
- sharp pencil with an eraser
Take four of the Dixie cups, and use the hole puncher in order to punch one hole in each, about a half inch below the rim.
Take the fifth cup and punch four equally spaced holes about a quarter inch below the rim. Then punch a hole in the center of the bottom of the cup.
Take one of the four cups and push a soda straw through the hole. Fold the end of the straw, and staple it to the side of the cup across from the hole. Repeat this procedure for another one-hole cup and the second straw.
Now slide one cup and straw assembly through two opposite holes in the cup with four holes. Push another one-hole cup onto the end of the straw just pushed through the four-hole cup. Bend the straw and staple it to the one-hole cup, making certain that the cup faces in the opposite direction from the first cup. Repeat this procedure using the other cup and straw assembly and the remaining one-hole cup.
Align the four cups so that their open ends face in the same direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) around the center cup. Push the straight pin through the two straws where they intersect. Push the eraser end of the pencil through the bottom hole in the center cup. Push the pin into the end of the pencil eraser as far as it will go. Your anemometer is ready to use.
Your anemometer is useful because it rotates at the same speed as the wind. This instrument is quite helpful in accurately determining wind speeds because it gives a direct measure of the speed of the wind. To find the wind speed, determine the number of revolutions per minute. Next calculate the circumference of the circle (in feet) made by the rotating paper cups. Multiply the revolutions per minute by the circumference of the circle (in feet per revolution), and you will have the velocity of the wind in feet per minute. The anemometer is an example of a vertical-axis wind collector. It need not be pointed into the wind to spin.
Read a Thermometer:
How hot or cold is it during a day? You can find out by measuring the temperature on a thermometer. Temperature is measured in both Centigrade and Fahrenheit. With just a little practice, it is easy to read both.
- printed copy of the “Thermometer”, below
- heavy cardboard
- yarn, white and red
To print the picture of thermometer:
Drag the picture of thermometer to an empty place on your desktop. This will create an Icon. Double click on this Icon and a new window will open with a thermometer on it.
CUT out the thermometer.
PASTE it to the heavy cardboard, and cut away the extra cardboard to the size of the thermometer.
PUNCH OUT the two black dots on the top and bottom of the thermometer.
MEASURE the distance between the two holes.
CUT a piece of white yarn and a piece of red yarn, both two inches longer than the distance between the two holes.
TIE the white yarn to one end of the red yarn.
On the side with the numbers, THREAD the yarn through the top and bottom holes, making sure the red piece is at the bottom and the white on top.
TURN the thermometer to the back, and loosely tie the yarn ends together.
MOVE the yarn up and down to show different temperatures on the face of the thermometer.
PRACTICE reading the temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. If it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit, how many degrees Celsius is it?
Make a Barometer
Do you know what the air pressure is today? You can find out for yourself by measuring the air pressure on a barometer.
small coffee can
COVER the top of the can with plastic wrap. USE a rubber band to hold the plastic wrap in place. The cover should be taut making the can airtight.
PLACE the straw horizontally on the plastic wrap so that two-thirds of the straw is on the can.
TAPE the straw to the middle of the plastic wrap.
TAPE the index card to the can behind the straw.
Carefully RECORD the location of the straw on the index card.
After 15 minutes, RECORD the new location of the straw on the index card.
Continue CHECKING and RECORDING the straw location as often as desired.
Be careful not to place your barometer near a window, as the barometer is sensitive to temperature as well as air pressure.
High pressure will make the plastic wrap cave in, and the straw go up. Low pressure will make the plastic wrap puff up, and the straw go down. Check your measurements with a real barometer.
What happens to your barometer when a big storm comes? Can you use your barometer to predict a storm?
How can you measure air? Can you see pure air? Can you feel it? Air pressure is the weight of air pressing on every part of your body, and everything around you, right now. Do you think you can use air pressure to predict a storm? Use the barometer that you have made to measure air pressure.
In a hurricane, there is very low air pressure. How does pressure change during other storms? Watch what happens to your barometer during a storm.
Measuring Wind Speed
Watch a flag as it billows in the wind. Can you use the flag to estimate how fast the wind is moving? Use the wind scale below to find out.
This table helps you to estimate the wind speed. Reproduce it and use it on your display.
|0 MPH||Smoke rises|
|1 – 3 MPH||Smoke drifts|
|4 – 7 MPH||Flags stir|
|8 – 12 MPH||Leaves move|
|13- 18 MPH||Branches Move|
|19-24 MPH||Trees sway|
|25 – 31 MPH||Flags beat|
|32 – 38 MPH||Flags extend|
|39 – 46 MPH||Difficult walking|
|47 – 54 MPH||Antennas Break|
|55 – 73 MPH||Trees uproot|
Rain clouds are made of droplets of water so small that there are billions of them in a single cloud. How much rain falls during a shower, or during a day, week, or month? You can find out by measuring it with a rain gauge.
Rain gauge is a cylindrical container with a ruler on the side that shows the height of water collected on that. If you have an empty can or a cup that has a mouth the same size as the bottom, you can insert a ruler in it and use it as a rain gauge.
Materials and Equipment:
List of material can be extracted from the experiment section.
Thermometers can be purchased from MiniScience.com.
Weather equipment can be purchased from Franklin Time and Weather.
Results of Experiment (Observation):
Experiments are often done in series. A series of experiments can be done by changing one variable a different amount each time. A series of experiments is made up of separate experimental “runs.” During each run you make a measurement of how much the variable affected the system under study. For each run, a different amount of change in the variable is used. This produces a different amount of response in the system. You measure this response, or record data, in a table for this purpose. This is considered “raw data” since it has not been processed or interpreted yet. When raw data gets processed mathematically, for example, it becomes results.
Summary of Results:
Summarize what happened. This can be in the form of a table of processed numerical data, or graphs. It could also be a written statement of what occurred during experiments.
It is from calculations using recorded data that tables and graphs are made. Studying tables and graphs, we can see trends that tell us how different variables cause our observations. Based on these trends, we can draw conclusions about the system under study. These conclusions help us confirm or deny our original hypothesis. Often, mathematical equations can be made from graphs. These equations allow us to predict how a change will affect the system without the need to do additional experiments. Advanced levels of experimental science rely heavily on graphical and mathematical analysis of data. At this level, science becomes even more interesting and powerful.
Using the trends in your experimental data and your experimental observations, try to answer your original questions. Is your hypothesis correct? Now is the time to pull together what happened, and assess the experiments you did.
Related Questions & Answers:
What you have learned may allow you to answer other questions. Many questions are related. Several new questions may have occurred to you while doing experiments. You may now be able to understand or verify things that you discovered when gathering information for the project. Questions lead to more questions, which lead to additional hypothesis that need to be tested.
If you did not observe anything different than what happened with your control, the variable you changed may not affect the system you are investigating. If you did not observe a consistent, reproducible trend in your series of experimental runs there may be experimental errors affecting your results. The first thing to check is how you are making your measurements. Is the measurement method questionable or unreliable? Maybe you are reading a scale incorrectly, or maybe the measuring instrument is working erratically.
If you determine that experimental errors are influencing your results, carefully rethink the design of your experiments. Review each step of the procedure to find sources of potential errors. If possible, have a scientist review the procedure with you. Sometimes the designer of an experiment can miss the obvious.