Initial Publication Date: July 5, 2011

Climate, Weather, and Trees


New England, a region located in the northeastern corner of the United States, is well-known for gently rolling hills and mountains, small stone walls ringing green meadows, and beautiful deciduous forests, which are a result of the unique climate of the region. An iconic tree in the region's forests is the sugar maple, known for both its beautiful fall foliage and delicious maple syrup. If you were in another region of the country, such as Montana, the forests would look very different, in large part because Montana has very different climatic conditions.

In this opening Lab, you will become familiar with weather by recording observations about the weather conditions and the plants in your own schoolyard or neighborhood. After this introduction, you will begin a case study investigation to explore climate's impact on trees. In this case study, you will learn about the weather and climate of New England, and Vermont in particular. You will also learn more about the sugar maple tree as you observe short- and long-term trends in climate and consider the relationship between climate and the production of maple syrup, an important agricultural product loved by millions.

After completing this Lab, you should be able to:

  • define weather and climate, and describe how they can be determined at various spatial scales and for various time periods;
  • distinguish between weather and climate; and
  • explain the relationship between climate and the biosphere, especially trees.

Keeping Track of What You Learn

In these pages, you'll find three kinds of questions.
  • Checking In questions are intended to keep you focused on key concepts. They allow you to check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
  • Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation.
  • Discuss questions are intended to get you talking with your neighbor. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation.
Your teacher will let you know which questions you should answer and turn in.