Key Idea: The air temperature at any place depends on the amount of energy that is transferred to that place by sunlight, the amount of thermal energy transferred to it by currents in the ocean and atmosphere, how high the place is above sea level, and how close it is to a large body of water.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. Air temperature follows a pattern such that places that are the same distance from the equator (where the greatest amount of energy is transferred from the sun to earth over the course of a year) tend to have about the same average daily temperature, and the average daily temperature tends to decrease the farther a place is from the tropical region. Several additional factors can disrupt this pattern, including the transfer of thermal energy by air and ocean currents, how high the place is above sea level, and how close a place is to a large body of water.
  2. The air temperature during a day tends to rise and fall less at places that are close to the ocean than at places at the same latitude that are farther from the ocean. And the average air temperature tends to rise and fall less over the course of a year at places that are close to the ocean than at places at the same latitude that are farther from the ocean.
  3. Currents in the ocean and atmosphere transfer thermal energy so that currents with little thermal energy can make a place cooler than it would be if there were no circulation of air and water, and currents with a lot of thermal energy can make a place warmer than it would otherwise be.
  4. The temperature of air decreases the higher the air is above sea level (with all other factors that influence air temperature being equal) such that the greater the altitude of a given place, the cooler the air is.