What Factors Control Your Local Climate?
ES2101  Comparing Climates: Phoenix, Arizona and
Flagstaff, Arizona

One way to learn how climate control factors influence an area's local climate is by comparing a series of paired examples from different locations.

  !   Click the red dot to view location information climate graphs for Phoenix. The Phoenix table is annotated to help you find the information to enter in Data Table 1. Click the red dot for Flagstaff and follow the example to gather Flagstaff data.

Bryan Aivazian, with data from ESRI

Complete the Phoenix and Flagstaff sections of Data Table 1 on your answer sheet, using the climate data provided on the pop-up screen for each location.

How to determine which climate control factors cause major differences in climate between Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Compare each of the climate variables in Data Table 1 for which you recorded data. Next, identify the climate variables that are the most different between the two locations. For this example, significant differences exist in the amount of snow precipitation that falls in Flagstaff compared to Phoenix. There are also major differences in the minimum and maximum temperatures for January as well as July.

Now, think about which climate control factors (latitude, elevation, water, ocean currents, topography, prevailing winds, or vegetation) are likely to cause these major differences between the local climates of Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Notice that there is a large difference in elevation between Phoenix and Flagstaff, but not much difference in latitude. Elevation must therefore play a major role in determining the local climate for each place, because these two cities are not very far away from each other.

Some climate control factors have greater influence than others, depending upon the location of the place being considered. For example, water has little influence on the climate of Phoenix and Flagstaff because no major bodies of water are located near either of these places.

In Data Table 2, indicate which climate control factors (latitude, elevation, water, ocean currents, topography, prevailing winds, or vegetation) appear to have major influence on the local climates of Phoenix and Flagstaff. Next, indicate which climate control factors appear to have minor influence.

2. Provide a justification for each factor you indicated as having major influence on the climates of Phoenix, Arizona and Flagstaff, Arizona.


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