Climatology is the study of climate and its variabilities. It analyzes long-term weather patterns over time and space and the controls that produce Earth’s diverse climatic conditions. Observed patterns of climatic conditions are grouped into areas that are at the core of climate classification.
Climatology, also known as climate science, is the scientific study of the Earth’s climate, which is typically defined as weather conditions averaged over at least 30 years. This modern field of study is classified as an atmospheric sciences branch and a subfield of physical geography, which is classified as an Earth science.
Various elements such as atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation in the previous chapters. All these factors interact with each other and shape the weather of a particular place. In turn, a place’s weather and climatic conditions determine what we wear, what we eat, and where and how we stay. Let us now understand the difference between two commonly used terms- weather and climate.
Weather is the temporary atmospheric condition of a location. It results from the interaction between different factors such as temperature, pressure, and humidity. On the other hand, the climate is the average weather conditions of a large area for the past several years.
Read More: Equatorial Climate Region
Factors Affecting Climate
Places at lower latitudes are warmer than places located at higher latitudes. The sun’s rays fall vertically on the equator and oblique on the temperate and polar regions.
The earth’s atmosphere gets heat mainly from terrestrial radiation. The air near the surface gets more heat than the upper part of the atmosphere. For a vertical rise of 165 meters, there is an average decrease in temperature at the rate of 1°C. Thus the temperature decreases with an increase in height.
3. Distance from the Sea
Water has high specific heat and takes longer to get heated and cool. Due to the presence of the sea, a moderating effect can be felt in the coastal areas. This reduces the daily range of temperature and increases humidity.
4. Nature of the Prevailing Winds
On-shore winds coming from the sea bring moisture and cause rainfall in the area through which they pass. The off-shore winds coming from the land are dry, help evaporation, and do not cause precipitation.
5. Cloud Cover
The cloudless areas receive comparatively higher insolation, and terrestrial heat radiated also escapes fast. Due to this fact, sunny regions witness a high diurnal range of temperature, whereas, in cloudy areas, the diurnal range of temperature is low.
6. Ocean Currents
Warm ocean currents raise the coast’s temperature and add moisture to the air, which sometimes causes precipitation. The cold oceanic currents decrease the temperature of the beach and the moisture-carrying capacity of air. The onshore wind blowing through the ocean can raise or lower the temperature of the interior.
7. Mountain Ranges
The mountain ranges act as a natural windbreak. Wind laden with moisture ascends along with mountain ranges and causes rainfall. The wind is descending on the mountain’s leeward side, driving very little rain. The mountain ranges also block the very chilled or hot wind and save from the extreme effects of this wind. If the mountain range runs parallel to the direction of the prevailing wind, then it causes very little rainfall. Example: Aravalli.
8. Nature of Soil and Vegetation Cover
Rocky or Sandy soils are good conductors of heat, whereas black soil absorbs heat more rapidly. The bare surface of the earth radiates heat rapidly and has a high range of diurnal temperature than places with vegetative cover. Forest cover, due to the transpiration mechanism, adds moisture to the air and sometimes causes precipitation.
Heat concentration is high at the gentler slope, e.g., in plains which raises the air temperature over it. Its lower concentration on steeper slopes reduces temperature.
Climatic Regions Classification
Classification is the process of ordering or grouping data or phenomena into related classes. Such generalizations are essential organizational tools in science and are especially useful for the spatial analysis of climatic regions.
A genetic classification of climate is one that is based on causative factors, such as the interaction of air masses. This approach explores the “why” question about the mix of climatic ingredients in specific locations. An empirical classification is one that is based on statistics or other data derived from measurements of observed effects. The empirical approach is demonstrated by climate classifications based on temperature and precipitation.
Geographers and applied climatologists have devised several classification systems to group the climates of individual locations into distinctive climate types. Like all other scientific models, these scientific classification systems are not exact replicas of the real-world environments they represent, but they provide a useful method for summarizing, communicating, and exchanging information about them.
For example, the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus created a classification system for describing plants and animals by genus and species (Homo sapiens), which biologists still use as the universal framework for their discussion of species. Because classification systems reflect the methods and values of the scientists who create them, they can be more or less appropriate for different purposes.
One climate classification system still in wide use today was developed by the Austrian climatologist Vladimir Köppen in 1918 and modified by Rudolf Geiger and Wolfgang Pohl in 1953. Primarily designed to capture the variability of vegetation around the globe, it features a system of letters to label and defines climates by mean annual precipitation and temperature and precipitation in the driest month. The Köppen climate system is easy and convenient to use, given monthly weather data, but it is not directly related to the underlying processes that differentiate the Earth’s climates.
The selection of criteria or causative factors used to draw lines between categories is the foundation of any classification system. Some climate elements used include average monthly temperatures, average monthly precipitation, total annual precipitation, air mass characteristics, ocean currents and sea-surface temperatures, moisture efficiency, insolation, and net radiation. The boundaries between zones can be considered transition zones of gradual change.
Climatology & Climate UPSC
The study of the atmosphere and weather patterns over time is known as climatology. This branch of science is concerned with recording and analysing weather patterns all over the world, as well as understanding the atmospheric conditions that cause them. It is frequently confused with meteorology, which is the study of weather and forecasting. Climatology, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the natural and man-made forces that influence long-term weather patterns. Climatologists are scientists who specialise in this field. This article will explain the basic concept of climatology, which will help you prepare for the UPSC Civil Service exam’s Geography syllabus.