Section 10: Global Climate Systems

SLOs: climate classification and Mediterranean Dry-Summer climates, climate change, local microclimates.

Lesson 1:


Climate is defined as the pattern of weather in a given location over a long period of time.   For a review of weather issues and related subjects, of which climates are based, refer to Sections 7-9.  In climatology, or the study of climates, multiple climatic regions are identified all over the Earth.  Even sub-regions, termed microclimates, identify specific climate types for local areas.  The main global climate classification system is termed: the Koppen-Geiger Climate Classification System.  This system takes into account latitude, temperature, and moisture conditions; ranging from tropical, warm, wet climates to polar, cold, dry climates.  According to the Koppen-Geiger Climate Classification System, all of Ventura County is considered a Mediterranean Dry-Summer Climate.  The Mediterranean Dry-Summer Climate is known to be located in mid-latitude regions, with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers.  The presence of chaparral, a drought-resistant variety of vegetation that is dependant upon occasional wild fires, is expected to exist in Mediterranean Dry-Summer climates.                   

Photos and Images
 (chaparral in the Los Padres National Forest)     (chaparral in the Santa Monica National Recreation Area)


Using the Christopherson text, or another source on climates, list and define the major characteristics of the other (non-Mediterranean Dry-Summer) Koppen-Geiger Climate Classification System types.  The name and a brief summary based on latitude, temperature, and moisture will suffice. 


Lesson 2:


Climates are ever changing, sometimes slowly and at times very quickly.  Climatic shifting, through global warming or cooling, glacial melting or accumulation, sea level rising or falling, and so on, is expected to occur naturally over long periods of time.  Currently, because of human influences on our planet Earth, climates world-wide are noticeably changing much faster than they have been for thousands of years.  These influences include global warming, glacial melting, and sea level rise caused by excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.  It is widely agreed upon in the scientific community that humans are at fault for global climates' rate of change today.  More climate change and consequences are assured because of the aforementioned influences unless we, humans, do something significant about our general pollution and atmospheric emissions problems soon.  Some of the most notable effects are occurring in the biosphere; many living things are going extinct at an unprecedented rate.  It is possible that human-induced climate change coupled with other human influences may cause a mass extinction in the near future.  Remember that our lives are dependent upon other living beings to survive, such as agricultural plants and domestic animals for food or forests that consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen so that we can breath!  Even here in Ventura County, global climate change has caused problems in the last few decades;  think of the El Nino storms that have become stronger and more frequent.         

Photos and Images

 (the hillside above La Conchita after a mudslide)


Recently, El Nino came in the form of strong storms with major amounts of rainfall.  In La Conchita, multiple people were killed by a mudslide; in El Rio, a tornado touched down; and in Ojai, flooding destroyed much of Highway 150.  What problems or inconveniences did you encounter or remember from the latest El Nino?  List them and explain how they affected you.    


Lesson 3:


There are six microclimates within Ventura County.  These microclimates are classified as:

1) highlands and mountains (within the Western Transverse Ranges)

    2) coastal plains (within the Oxnard Plain)     

3) coastal strip (along the coastline)

4) interior valleys (within the Ojai Valley)

5) interior valleys with coastal influence (within the Santa Clarita Valley) 

6) interior valleys without coastal influence (within the Conejo and Simi Valleys)


Photos and Images

(valley in Ojai) (McGrath State Beach) (valley between Moorpark and Simi) (agriculture in Oxnard) (Los Padres National Forest) (valley near Santa Paula)



Based on the definitions of the microclimates in Ventura County, match the photographs above with each microclimate name.  What physical features do you notice in each photograph that exemplify each microclimate?     

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2006 Jessica Douglas