Table of Contents. Part 1: Climate Graphs Activity Part 2: Texas Climate Handout

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1 Table of Contents Part 1: Climate Graphs Activity Part 2: Texas Climate Handout Maps for transparencies: a. Texas Average Annual Temperature b. Texas Average Annual Precipitation c. Texas Climate Regions Base Map: Major Cities in Texas

2 Activity 1 CLIMATE GRAPHS AND CLIMATE REGIONS OF TEXAS Background: Climate graphs (sometimes called climagraphs) summarize many kinds of environmental conditions. Geographers, and others, use climate graphs to understand climate and phenomena that rely upon climate such as vegetation. Climate graphs provide clues to weather conditions in particular places. They can help answer questions such as: How much does it rain and/or snow? What time of the year is wet/dry? What kind of vegetation can grow? (Trees grow naturally in wetter places; grasses are the rule if precipitation supply and demand are nearly the same; desert plants survive if temperatures are high when there is little rain), What months see a moisture deficit and requires people to store water and irrigate? What months show a moisture surplus, rivers form, and flood prevention may be necessary? Objective: Your objectives are 1) to be able to summarize some basic principles of Texas climate, 2) to be able to describe the characteristics of the climates of Texas, and 3) to be able to identify and explain the factors which shape patterns of climate in Texas. Assignment: The National Weather Service has divided Texas into ten divisions, regions of similar geography and climate (see the accompanying map). Data on the average monthly temperature (degrees F) and precipitation (inches) for each climate division is provided. Your task is to: 1. Make a climate graph for each set of data. Ten climate graphs are provided. You may choose to do this on a computer or use graph paper. 2. Match the climate graph to the correct climate division using deductive reasoning. Label each climate graph by division name. Hint: Calculate the total precipitation and the average annual temperature for each region to help the decision making process. 3. Below each climate graph write 2-3 sentences explaining your deduction. What was your reasoning in making your selection? Be sure to use the factors listed below in your reasoning process, that is, latitude, continentality, seasonality, and quantity. Two additional factors may help you to make your decision: vegetation and elevation.

3 Hints: To make a climate graph, plot the data on precipitation as a bar graph; plot temperature as a line graph. An example is shown below: Climagraph, Moline Illinois J M M J S N PPT Temp Factors Which Influence Climate Here are some questions to ask yourself to help match places with the climate graphs. Be sure to use these factors in the explanation of your deductive process. Latitude. Looking at the temperature curve and the average temperature (Calculate and enter on the data table below), check the distance from the equator. Warmer temperatures in the winter mean a location closer to the equator. Continentality. Water is slow to heat up and slow to cool down; land cools and heats quickly. Places that are close to water will be moderated by its effects. Thus, temperatures at the beach are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The "maritime" effect decreases with distance away from the coast. Locations far inland have more extreme temperatures: hot summers, cold winters. Quantity. How much precipitation falls? What is the general trend east to west in Texas concerning precipitation? What is the general trend from north to south? Seasonality. When does the climate division receive its precipitation? Remember, it rains for three reasons: orographic ppt (because of mountains), convection ppt (e.g., afternoon thunderstorms), and frontal ppt (e.g. Northers, hurricanes). Watch the Weather Channel for a while to get the hang of this. Elevation. Higher places are cooler and more moist than places lower in elevation. Vegetation. What kind of plants grow in each climate division? Forests need rain, grasses survive on half as much rain as trees, deserts even less. Apply what you know about vegetation to help decide climate patterns. But remember, vegetation is an EFFECT of a climate, not the CAUSE of it.

4 CLIMATIC DATA FOR TEN PLACES, TEXAS, 1996 Data 1 J F M A M J J A S O N D Total PPT / Average Temp. Temperature Precipitation Data 2 Temperature Precipitation Data 3 Temperature Precipitation Data 4 Temperature Precipitation Data 5 Temperature Precipitation Data 6 Temperature Precipitation Data 7 Temperature Precipitation Data 8 Temperature Precipitation Data 9 Temperature Precipitation Data 10 Temperature Precipitation Weather Highlights, 1996 Late February: unseasonably high temperatures over entire state Early April: blizzard in Midland, Abilene May-June: Drought conditions state wide with record breaking heat and extremely low ppt. Heat causes evaporation to eat away at available water supplies water supplies not replenished by rainfall because of extremely dry conditions. Late August: Hurricane Dolly hits Tampico, MX and significantly affects TX weather with much needed ppt almost state wide.

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18 Name: Period: Date: Texas Climate Instructions: For this activity you will be using maps of Texas average annual precipitation and Texas average annual temperature to determine climate regions. Prediction: 1. Look at the outline map of Texas titled Major Cities in Texas. What city do you think has the coldest average annual temperatures? What city do you think has the warmest average annual temperatures? What city do you think has the highest amount of precipitation? What city do you think has the lowest amount of precipitation? Comparison: Get the transparencies with the titles Texas Average Annual Temperature and Texas Average Annual Precipitation from your teacher. 2. Place the Texas Average Annual Temperature map over the Major Cities map. Look at the overall temperature patterns. Describe the pattern you see. 1

19 3. Rank the cities from the highest temperature to lowest temperature. City Abilene Ranking Temperature: Highest to Lowest Amarillo Austin College Station Dallas/Ft.Worth Eagle Pass El Paso Galveston Houston Longview San Angelo San Antonio 4. Of the factors affecting temperature listed in your book, which do you think has the most influence in Texas: latitude, altitude, distance from large bodies of water, or ocean currents? Why? 5. Now look at the overall precipitation patterns by placing the Texas Average Annual Precipitation map over the Major Cities map.. Describe the pattern you see. 2

20 6. Rank the cities from the highest precipitation to lowest precipitation. City Abilene Ranking Precipitation: Highest to Lowest Amarillo Austin College Station Dallas/Ft.Worth Eagle Pass El Paso Galveston Houston Longview San Angelo San Antonio 7. Of the factors affecting precipitation listed in your book, which do you think has the most influence in Texas: prevailing winds or mountain ranges? Why? Overlay: Place the Texas Average Annual Temperature map over the Major Cities in Texas map. Then place the Texas Average Annual Rainfall map over those. 8. What relationship do you see between the patterns? 3

21 Climate Region Delineation: Overlay the Texas Climate Regions map with the Major Cities Map. 9. What Climate Region do each of the cities fall in? City Climate Region Abilene Amarillo Austin College Station Dallas/Ft.Worth Eagle Pass El Paso Galveston Houston Longview San Angelo San Antonio 10. Now return to the Climate Graphs you created in class. Use the information you have just discovered to assign the name of the Climate Region to each Climate Graph. Analysis: Based on what you ve learned in class and this assignment answer the following questions. 11. What type of weather would you expect Austin to have if it was in a valley? 12. If there was a mountain range between Houston and College Station, what weather changes would you expect in College Station? 4

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