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Weather is defined as the day-to-day characteristics of these atmospheric conditions. Weather affects all of us, for example a rainstorm can cancel a cricket match, or a snowstorm may cancel school for a day. Over the years, records show weather patterns, which have occurred over long periods of time.


Climates influence where we live, what farmers can grow, which clothes we wear, and how we live. There are four main facts when considering Canadas climate. 1. Canada extends for a great distance from north to south. 2. Different elevations produce different climate conditions 3. Coastal regions have different climates from inland regions. 4. Wind and pressure systems move weather conditions form one part of the country to another.

The most southerly point in Canada is Pelee Island in Lake Erie at 41o N latitude. The most northerly point of the country is Alert at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island at 83o N latitude. Latitude has an effect on climate; distance form the equator is a key factor in weather a region is hot or cold. When energy from the sun hits the equator it is spread over a small area, however when its hits the northerly regions it is spread over a wider area due to the curvature of the earth.

Relief and Elevation

Relief refers to differences in the elevation of earths surface. Mountains ranges acts as barriers for movement of air masses. If you were to hike from sea level up a mountain you would notice a steady drop in temperature as you climb. Why do you get colder even though you are moving closer to the sun? This is because air masses move up mountains. As it rises it loses pressure, expands, and loses heat.

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Continental and Maritime Environments

Areas far from oceans and large lakes in the interior of landmasses have a continental climate. The temperature range is great because there is no large water body to moderate the range. Mean while coastal locations have maritime climate, which means that the average temperature range is small, and precipitation levels are high.

The Moderating effect of Water

Bodies of water have moderating effect on land temperatures. Water heats and cools at a slower pace than land, thus in the summer the water takes longer to heat up, and in the winter it takes longer to cool. Winds blowing of the water moderate the land temperature. Therefore, maritime locations have cooler summers and milder winters.

Ocean Currents
Ocean currents affect climate, because the temperature of the ocean current determines the temperature the air that moves above it. Where the air above two currents meets, the weather is often damp and foggy.

Air Masses
An air mass is a large volume of air with the climate conditions of the area it was formed in. Air which start from oceans contain moisture and as they move over land they release this moisture as precipitation. (This is why maritime regions receive more precipitation). Air masses which start inland are dry as they are far from water.

Winds and Pressure Systems

Air, is matter so it has a defined weight and volume. The weight is called air pressure. Air pressure differences are created when the earth is heated to different temperatures. Warm air, rising created an area of low pressure, while cool air falls to the earth and creates areas of high pressure. Air moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, this creates wind. Around the earth high and low pressure belts have created a pattern of prevailing winds. In Canada prevailing winds blow from west to east, known as westerlies. The cold Arctic winds and warm Mexican winds meet at the polar front. In the atmosphere this current of air flows from west to east at speeds of 300 to 500 km/h, at high altitudes. The warm air masses and cold air masses dont mix easily they, instead they battle it out with a storm.

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To understand why precipitation occurs you must remember two very important points. 1. Air-cools as it rises. 2. As air-cools, water vapor condenses more than it evaporates. Air may rise for any of the following reasons: 1. It rises to cross an area of high elevation. (Relief precipitation) 2. It rises to because it has absorbed heat from the earths surface. (Convectional precipitation) 3. It rises because there is a cooler, denser air mass flowing beneath it that forces it up. (Cyclonic precipitation)

Relief Precipitation

Mountains create relief precipitation. As moist air rises up the windward slope of the mountains, it expands and cools. The rate of evaporation deceases and the rate of condensation increases, as the air rises. This results in the formation of heavy rain drops, which fall to the ground (in colder temperatures as snow). Moisture is measured in terms of RH (Relative humidity). RH = (amount of moisture in air moisture hold capacity) 100% Cold air descends on the leeward slope the mountain becoming warmer so precipitation and cloud formation decrease.

Conventional Precipitation

Conventional precipitation is very common in inland locations such as the Prairies. Here, the land is subject to intense heating, this causes air to rise. As air rises it expands and forms small white clouds. As more air condenses the white clouds are turned into storm clouds. The clouds develop vertically as more water vapor condenses. The result is very heavy clouds, falling to the earth in form of violent downpours. In extreme cases, even tornadoes may develop in these storm clouds.

Cyclonic Precipitation
Air masses that are different dont mix easily, they have a front between them. This front a basically a battlefield and cyclonic precipitation develops here. A cyclonic storm is a large, low-pressure system that forms has warm and cold air collide. As the warm air moves inward toward the center of low pressure, it rises and cools creating precipitation. This results in extreme weather that can halt an entire region.

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