Chapter 3:

Learning Objectives

Each statement represents the primary learning objective for the corresponding section heading within this chapter.  After you complete this chapter, you should be able to:


Temperature is one of the basic elements of weather and climate. When someone asks what the weather is like outside, air temperature is often the first response. From everyday experience, we know that temperatures vary on different time scales: seasonally, daily, and even hourly. Moreover, we recognize that substantial temperature differences exist from one place to another. In Chapter 2 you learned how air is heated and examined the role of Earth–Sun relationships in causing temperature variations across seasons as well as across latitudes. In this chapter, you will examine several other factors that act as temperature controls. In addition, you will learn how temperature is measured and how temperature data can be useful. Applications of temperature data include evaluating energy consumption, measuring crop maturity, and expressing levels of human comfort.

Chapter Outline

For the Record: Air-Temperature Data

Cycles of Air Temperature

Why Temperatures Vary

Global Distribution of Temperature

Temperature Measurement

Applying Temperature Data