By Charles F. Gritzner
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If you are able to identify relationships between, say, climate, vegetation, and land use, you have taken a huge step in learning about systems—how things work together. The rest of this chapter looks at the ways in which climate affects other geographical elements. CLImATE ANd LANdFoRmS Geomorphologists (scientists who study landforms) often speak of land features in the context of the climates in which they form. For example, they study “desert” landforms, “tropical” land features, and “Arctic” terrain.
Human ecologists, regardless of their scientific background, study ways humans interact with the environment. Basically, they want to know how people adapt to, use, and change the environment in which they live. Impacts of Changing Climates Humans have been around for several million years. Obviously, our ancestors were confronted by and survived many changes in climate. Sometimes conditions were much warmer than today and at other times much colder. With each change, however, they managed to adapt to the new conditions.
1 percent. Even this tiny difference, however, is believed to influence Earth’s temperatures. When sunspot activity is at a maximum, warmer weather usually occurs. When there are few sunspots, temperatures tend to be cooler. Causes of Climate Change The 11-year sunspot cycle is not always as reliable as clockwork. Sunspot activity, for example, was minimal from 1645 to 1715, a period called the Maunder minimum. During the 70-year span, temperatures were also much colder than normal. Since minimal sunspot activity and a long period of cool temperatures coincided, some scientists believe they were related.