Science - 2017-18

ES.12 - Energy Transfer & Weather

The student will investigate and understand that energy transfer between the sun and Earth and its atmosphere drives weather and climate on Earth. Key concepts include
a) observation and collection of weather data;
b) prediction of weather patterns;
c) severe weather occurrences, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and major storms; and
d) weather phenomena and the factors that affect climate including radiation, conduction, and convection.

Bloom's Levels:  Analyze; Understand

Adopted: 2010


  • Radiation, conduction, and convection transfer energy through Earth's systems.
  • Weather is a short term pattern in atmospheric circulation patterns; climate is a long-term pattern.

  • I can read a weather map and determine what clothing to wear for the day.
  • I can decide if I should walk home or take the bus this afternoon by looking at the clouds.
  • I can use satellite images to pack for a weekend at the beach.
  • I can plan a trip to a warm destination at various times of the year.


  • Energy transfer between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere creates the weather.
  • Weather and climate are different. Both weather and climate are measurable and, to a certain extent, predictable. Weather describes day-to-day changes in atmospheric conditions. Climate describes the typical weather patterns for a given location over a period of many years. Instrumentation is used to collect weather and climate data.
  • The four major factors affecting climate are latitude, elevation, proximity to bodies of water, and position relative to mountains. Earth’s major climatic zones are the polar, temperate, and tropical zones. Areas near the equator receive more of the sun’s energy per unit area than areas nearer the poles. 
  • Earth’s surface is much more efficiently heated by the sun than is the atmosphere. The amount of energy reaching any given point on Earth’s surface is controlled by the angle of sunlight striking the surface and varies with the seasons.
  • Winds are created by uneven heat distribution at Earth’s surface and modified by the rotation of Earth. The Coriolis effect causes deflections of the atmosphere due to the rotation of Earth. Global wind patterns result from the uneven heating of Earth by the sun and are influenced by the Coriolis effect. 
  • Convection in the atmosphere is a major cause of weather. Convection is the major mechanism of energy transfer in the oceans, atmosphere, and Earth’s interior.
  • The conditions necessary for cloud formation are air at or below dew point and presence of condensation nuclei. Cloud droplets can join together to form precipitation. 
  • A tornado is a narrow, violent funnel-shaped column of spiral winds that extends downward from the cloud base toward Earth. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone (counterclockwise movement of air) characterized by sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour) or greater. 


In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students will

a)  identify and describe the direction of local winds (land, sea breezes and jet stream).

     read and interpret data from a thermometer, a barometer, and a psychrometer.

     read and interpret a weather map containing fronts, isobars, and isotherms.

     read and interpret weather station models.

     identify types and origins of air masses, fronts, and the accompanying weather conditions.

b)  predict weather based on cloud type, temperature, and barometric pressure.

c)  analyze the impact of satellite technology on weather prediction and the tracking of severe storms, including hurricanes, and evaluate the cost and benefits of this technology in terms of lives and property saved. Predict the impact on storm preparedness if there were no weather satellites.

d)  read and interpret climate graphs.

     label a diagram of global climate zones and the surface movement of ocean currents.

     label a diagram that demonstrates the interaction of Earth’s atmosphere and energy transfer (conduction, convection, and radiation).


air mass, anemometer, barometer, cirrus, climate, cold front, condensation, cumulus, dewpoint, evaporation, freezing rain, freezing, front, global warming, greenhouse effect, hail, humidity, hurricane, lightning, melting, polar zone, precipitation, rain shadow effect, relative humidity, saturated, stationary front, stratus, temperate zone, temperature, thunder, tornado, tropical zone, urban heat island, warm front, warming, watch, weather, wind vane, hygrometer

Updated: Nov 28, 2017