Friday, February 13, 2009

Teaching Climagraphs

Climagraphs, Climographs, Climograms, Climagrams! Which is it! Actually, I've seen all of the above. The most common is Climographs. They are lots of fun for kids once they begin to understand them.

Basically, a Climograph is a graph that plots temperature and precipitation on the same graph. Since temperature and precipitation are most often used to describe a certain climate, this graph can represent a climate in one distinct image that is instantly recognizable if you know how to read it. In the Climographs here, the Red represents Temperature and the Green represents Precipitation.

If you look at the graph above of Nashville, TN, you can see that it has rain at about the same amount all year long. Contrast this with the Climograph of Phoenix. (NOTE: Click on any of the Climographs to see an enlarged image.)

You can see that Phoenix doesn't get much rain ever, but does get less in April, May and June. There are definitely differences between Nashville and Phoenix as far as Precipitation goes.

But what about the Temperatures of the two different cities? Most kids can see that the Bell Curve is higher in Phoenix than in Nashville. They are similar in that both summers are hotter than the winters. But can you also see that both are quite steep curves? Compare the slope of both curves to that of San Francisco.

See how flat the curve is for San Francisco? The different between the two is an indication of a marine versus a continental climate. Marine = close to an ocean, Continental = in the middle of a continent. Kids love to know they can see these types of differences and relate them to the actual climates of different areas of the world.

Click here for a good source for Climographs for many different cities of the United States.
Click here for some World Climagraphs. Compare ones from the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. What causes such a big difference?
Click here for a good activity that compares Houston and Moscow.
Click here for one that compares West Palm Beach to Katmandu.
Be sure to check out my Teaching Earth Science website for games that play with the concept of Climographs!

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