Initial Publication Date: July 5, 2011

Climate, Weather, and Trees

Part A: Climate, Weather, and Plants in Your Region

It is time for a field trip! Let's start learning about climate, weather, and the biosphere by going outside and becoming familiar with the weather and plants just outside your own door. Before you go outside, download and print the linked recording sheet and cloud identification chart (below) to take along with you on your journey. To download a PDF file, right-click on the link and choose "Save File As" or "Save Link As..." or other similar command.

Once outside, locate a tree, shrub, cactus, or other long-lived perennialperennial: a plant that is long-lived and remains in the same location for many years. Trees, shrubs, and cactus are all perennial plants. plant in your study area. Use the recording sheet to record observations about your plant and its surroundings. Consider the influences that the local weather and other physical conditions may have on the plant. Look around the area (in all directions) while considering the following questions:

  • Is the plant near a parking lot or roadway?
  • Is it in a protected area or exposed to the wind?
  • Do large buildings or other trees shade it?
  • How might these factors influence the growth of the plant?

If possible, take a picture or sketch your plant.

Next, take a few minutes to describe the weather that you are experiencing today on your recording sheet. Look at the sky; are there clouds? Look at the leaves on a tree or flags in the area; is it windy? Is there precipitation? Is it humid? What is the temperature? Use a camera or make a sketch of the scene and any clouds that are in your view. Use the cloud chart to identify the types of clouds that you see.

When you are done recording your observations, return to the classroom or find a quiet place to reflect on your observations. Answer the following Stop and Think questions. (Note: these questions are also on the Recording Sheet)

Stop and Think

  1. Write a paragraph describing how you predict the weather in your study area will change over the next day, week, month, and year.
  2. How will the plant that you are observing change in these same time periods? You may want to sketch your predictions for plant growth or change.
  3. If possible, identify the age, species, and climatic needs of your tree. There are many helpful websites with information about trees; several are linked here:

If possible, return to your study every day for a week and record your weather and cloud observations. You might be amazed by how much the weather changes over the course of an average day and week.