The weather at Earth’s surface impacts our lives every day. The day’s temperature determines what we might wear (parka or t-shirt) or do (swimming or sledding) on a particular day. Weather changes hourly, daily, and seasonally, but if we want to understand broader patterns we can look at climate. For temperature, we can see patterns by averaging the temperature over longer periods, typically about 30 years, of time.

Temperature varies primarily due to changes in latitude or elevation or proximity to water. Locations closer to the equator are warmer than those near the poles and places at a higher elevation are cooler than those nearer to sea level. Additionally, locations near large bodies of water experience slower temperature changes as it takes more energy to heat or cool water compared to land. 

Can you see these patterns on the map? Name a city that is warm because it is nearer the equator? Name a city that is cool because it is located in a high elevation.

This map layer shows Earth’s mean surface air temperature averaged from 1981-2010 as calculated by the Copernicus Climate Change Service. The data was collected from the Copernicus satellite and validated with temperature readings from weather stations. Scientists averaged all of the temperatures occurring in one year together to determine the average annual temperature, then averaged all of those numbers together to develop this map.


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Noun

the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

annual
Adjective

yearly.

average
Verb

to calculate the middle amount among a group of numbers.

climate
Noun

all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

elevate
Verb

to raise higher than the surrounding area.

estimate
Verb

to guess based on knowledge of the situation or object.

mean
Noun

mathematical value between the two extremes of a set of numbers. Also called the average.

Northern Hemisphere
Noun

half of the Earth between the North Pole and the Equator.

satellite
Noun

object that orbits around something else. Satellites can be natural, like moons, or artificial.

satellite data
Noun

information from images, calculations, and measurements taken from outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Noun

base level for measuring elevations. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a 19-year cycle.

Southern Hemisphere
Noun

half of the Earth between the South Pole and the Equator.

Noun

degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

unsustainable
Adjective

unable to be continued at the same rate for a long period of time.

weather pattern
Noun

repeating or predictable changes in the Earth's atmosphere, such as winds, precipitation, and temperatures.

weather station
Noun

area with tools and equipment for measuring changes in the atmosphere.