How many different climate zones can you spot in the movie above?


  • Name, describe and explain the occurance of the world’s major climatic zones
  • Describe and explain the seven factors that affect climate using real world examples

Part 1) The Earth’s Climatic Zones

The earth can be separated into different climatic zones. The zones are shown on the map below.

MAP 1: THE EARTH’S MAJOR CLIMATE ZONES   Click on the map to find out more about each zone.

Task 1:

  1. Use the information from the map and link above to complete the table in your workbook.
  2. Look carefully at your map and your descriptions. Describe what happens to the temperature as you move away from the equator?
  3. Which climate zones do you find furthest from the sea?
  4. Define the word, “Arid,” in your own words.

Look carefully at the map below. It shows the global population density. Population density is the number of people living in 1km squared. In your workbook write a comparison between the climate map and the population density map. Which climate zones are the most and least densely populated? Can you explain why?

Map 2: World Population Density (the darker the red, the higher the population density.

Part 2) Why do we have different climate zones?

  • What are the seven factors that affect climate?

1) How does Latitude affect climate?

From the work you did in task 1 you will see that the average temperature falls as we move away from the equator. As the equator is 0 degrees latitude and the poles have a latitude of 90 degrees north or south we can say that temperature decreases as latitude increases. Why is this? 

The diagram below shows why temperatures decrease as you travel north or south from the equator.  Latitude or distance from the equator

Figure 1: The amount of sunlight hitting the Earth’s surface is affected by the tilt of the Earth and its atmosphere. —Credit: Peter Halasz.

Task 2:

In the diagram above, a and b represent equal amounts of solar energy

  1. Which band of energy, a or b, affects the smallest area on the earth’s surface? 
  2. Why is the suns energy not spread over an equal amount of the earth at a and b?
  3. Which would be the warmest/coldest a or b
  4. As the energy from the sun reaches the earth it must pass through the atmosphere. The further the energy must travel through the atmosphere, the more energy is lost. Will more energy be lost at a or b?
  5. Find Agadez, Basel and Murmansk on this map and explain in your own words why there is a difference in their average temperature? 

2) How does Altitude affect climate?

Altitude or height above sea level has a considerable impact on temperature and therefore climate. 

In simple terms, the higher you get, the colder it gets. That’s why there is often snow on top of the tallest mountains all year round but why is this?

The video below explains. 

Task 3:

  1. What happens to temperature as you go up a mountain? 
  2. What is the approximate change in temperature per 100-150m? 
  3. What is the name given to rate of temperature change? 
  4. Find Grindelwald and the Jungfraujoch on this map. At what altitude is each location. 
  5. What is the temperature difference between Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch? 
  6. Try to calculate the lapse rate based on the difference in altitude and temperature for the two locations. 
Photograph 1: Grindelwad lies at the foot on some of the highest mountains in the Alps.
  1. What happens to the air pressure as you move up through the atmosphere? 
  2. How does this affect the temperature of the air? 
  3. In the previous unit you learned that the sun’s energy heats the earth and the earth then heats the air. What does this mean for the temperature of the air as you go up? 

Web search: 

See if you can find out the answers to the following questions. Keep a record of the sites you visit and don’t rely on one source of information. 

How cold can it get? What are the coldest temperatures ever recorded and where were they? How much higher is Everest than the jungfraujoch? How cold is it at the top of Mount Everest?How long could someone survive on top of Mount Everest?Why is the cold the not only problem you would have to deal with when trying to survive on the summit of Everest?

How long could someone survive on the summit?

3) What is Aspect

Slope aspect is an important factor in avalanche prediction.
Photograph 2: Why does the snowline vary around from one side of the valley to another?

Look at photograph 2 above. You will notice that the snowline varies as you move around the valley. This is due to the Aspect of the slope. The aspect is the the direction the slope faces.

Figure 2: The aspect of the slope affects the amount of sunlight the ground receives.

Task 4: 

Try to explain in your own words why the Aspect can affect the temperature. Refer to the photograph in your answer.

The video below may also give you some ideas? 

4) Distance from the Sea

Compare the weather for the three locations below. Now find them on this map

Task 5: 

  1. What do Nantes, Basel and Ulaanbaataar have in common in terms of their location? 
  2. Use measuring tool to calculate how far the cities are from the nearest ocean? 

The sea takes longer to heat up and cool down than land. 

3. Using the statement above as the opening to your answer, try to explain why there is difference in temperature between Basel and Ulaanbaataar.

 4. How would summer and winter temperatures in the three locations compare? 

The difference between the highest and lowest temperatures is known as the temperature range.

Areas close to the sea have a smaller temperature range than those in the centre of a continent. Sea’s and oceans heat up in the summer and the water cools the air. In winter the sea releases the heat slowly, thus keeping the air warmer. Areas close to the sea have cool summers and mild winters.

Land heats up and cools down quickly and therefore areas away from the sea tend to have hot summers and cold winters.

5) Ocean Currents

Map 3: Warm and cold ocean currents in the Atlantic have a huge influence on the climate.

We have already seen that Nantes is on the French Atlantic coast. Now find St John’s, Newfoundland on the map. 

Task 6: 

  1. What is the difference in temperature between St John’s Newfoundland and Nantes? 
  2. Mark the two locations on the map in your workbook. 
  3. Explain how ocean currents at the two locations affect their temperature. 


Use the internet to find the name of the warm ocean current that affects the west coast of Europe and how it forms.

6) The prevailing wind

The prevailing wind is the most frequent wind direction a location experiences. In Europe the prevailing wind is usually from the west, which brings warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean. This contributes to the frequent rainfall.

Task 7: 

  1. Why does the prevailing wind in Europe result in lots of rain? 
  2. Look at map 4 below. How does the prevailing wind contribute to the formation of the Sahara desert? 
Map 4: The prevailing wind in the Sahara is from the north east. This blows over land.  

Extension: Prevailing Wind, The Föhn

 Use this link and other websites to explain what the Föhn Wind is, how it is formed and the effect it has on the weather of Switzerland.


  1. What affects the climate at each of the locations marked on the map
  2. Create a summary of the different factors that affect the climate using the mind map below. Add locations from the map above to the most relevant factor.

Factors affecting climate brainstrom.png


Further learning opportunities and activities.

In this extension section you will 

  • Explain what clouds are; name and identify three basic cloud types
  • Describe the key steps in the formation of rain
  • Name the three types of rainfall (convectional, relief and frontal) and say how each is formed
  • Explain in simple terms what air pressure is; describe high and low-pressure weather in summer and winter
  • Explain what a front it; give an example of how the arrival of a front leads to a change in the weather
  • Explain what satellite images are; draw conclusions about the weather in a place, from a satellite image

b) Look at the map below that shows the capital cities of Europe. Now use the information above to answer the following questions.

i) Why is Oslo colder than Monaco?

ii) Why does it rain more in Lisbon than Madrid?

iii) Why is the winter much colder in Kiev than in London?



Task 5: Types of Rainfall

First of all, a quick revision of the water cycle.


Convection Rainfall

Convection rainfall.png

Convection Rainfall is associated with the formation of Cumulonimbus clouds. Watch the clouds form in the video below.


Orographic Rainfall:

relief rainfall.png


1) Insert the image above into your notes under the title, Orographic/Relief Rainfall. Once you have done this, use the diagram to explain why the climate on the south side of the Alps (The Ticino) is much drier than the northern side.

2) Find photographs of the Ticino and areas on the north side of the alps. Use Google maps to help you.

Frontal Rainfall:

frontal rainfall.png

3) Complete the worksheet below. If you are in an extra English class, do the ESL worksheet first.

Frontal Rainfall Worksheets



Rainfall Summary

4) Complete the 3 types of rainfall worksheet using the information above.

The 3 types of rainfall.docx

Task 6: Air Pressure

What causes high and low pressure?

High Pressure: Anticylones

brighton beach.jpg

frosty trees.jpg


1) Insert the two images above into your notes under the heading, “Air Pressure.”


2) You are now going to play a game of spot the difference. Try to find the similarities and differences between the two photographs. Annotate (label) the diagrams to show the similarities and differences you spot.


Both photographs were taken during periods of high pressure known as ‘Anticyclones.’ The air is cold and sinking. Cold air cannot hold very much water and therefore there are very few clouds. As the air sinks, it warms and therefore condensation doesn’t take place. No condensation means no clouds and therefore no rain.

Anticyclones tend to give fine settled weather which may last several days. They can cover huge areas. In summer they bring hot and sunny weather. In winter they bring clear skies, low temperatures and a risk of fog and frost.

3) Use this page to help you complete the worksheet below.


Low Pressure: Depressions

Low Pressure means bad weather.jpg

click here to see a simulation of a warm and cold front.


4) Now do the activity on this webpage.

Air Masses:


Unit Summary and Learning Goals

This document can be used as a check list for your revision.

Weather and Climate unit summary.doc


BBC Bitesize weather and climate pages with test. This is an excellent revision page. Although the emphasis is on British weather, the information is the same for most of western Europe.