Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536



Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536
Textbook Problem

List the important controls of temperature variation and distribution over Earth’s surface. Which control is most important and why is this so?

To determine

The important controls of temperature variation and distribution over the Earth’s surface, the control that is most important, and the reason for the same.


A land surface absorbs and loses heat at a fast rate compared to that of water. The surface characteristics below the air might affect the heating or cooling of the air above the surface. Hence, the temperatures on the land or over water bodies that is exposed to oceanic winds, common in maritime locations, may be more moderate than those of continental interiors located within the same latitude. This proves that differential heating of the land and water controls the distribution and variation of temperature over the Earth.

The latitudinal location of a place affects the Earth’s temperature distribution. As it is farther from the equator, the angle of incidence of solar rays would be smaller and vice versa. The incident angle of the Sun’s rays away from the equator would be less than 90 degrees; hence, solar radiation would spread over a greater area and cause less intense heating, leading to lower temperature. On the contrary, smaller incident angle of the solar radiations imply a larger distance for the rays to pass through the atmosphere. If more heat absorption by the atmosphere take place or if more radiations get reflected back into space, the heat reaching the surface of the Earth would be less.

Usually, thin air is seeen at high altitudes. The air would be composed of less concentrations of moisture, dust, and gas at greater altitudes, while at the sea level, denser air exists...

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