Temperature Distributions


Factors Affecting Temperature Distributions

1. Differential heating of land and water

2. Ocean Currents

3. Altitude

4. Geographic position

5. Cloud cover and albedo

Note the uneven distribution of land and water in the northern and southern hemisphere.

Vancouver and Winnipeg are at approximately the same latitude but have very different annual temperature patterns. Why?

The reason has to do with the influence of ocean currents and the effect water along the coast of Vancouver has on the atmosphere.

Look closely at the direction of current flow. Where are the warm currents and where are the cold currents?

This is a satellite image of the Gulf Stream. The red colors depict warmer temperatures and the blue represents cooler temperatures.

Now look at the diagram and compare the temperature of Myrtle Beach with Los Angeles. Both cities are at equivalent latititudes. However, Myrtle Beach has mean temperatures that are about 10 to 15o warmer than Los Angeles.



Elevation plays a very important role in the temperature distributions on land. Compare these two Ecuadorian cities, both located very near the equator. One of the cities, Guayaquil has very little temperature variability, only about two degrees. But, the temperature is around 25o centigrade compared to Quito which has temperatures of around 13o C.

The difference between these two cities is Elevation. Guayaquil is only 12meters above sea level. Quito is at 2800 meters above sea level.

Geographic Location


What factors affect the different temperature patterns seen in the cities above?

In the case of Spokane and Seattle, Seattle receives the cooling prevailing Pacific winds. Spokane on the other hand does not because the winds are blocked by the Cascade mountain range.

Eureka and New York city are both at similar latitudes but Eureka is constantly cooled by the prevailing winds with blow off the Pacific whereas New York is not influenced by such winds.


Cloud Cover