In Wales the two main influences on the temperature are the sun and the sea. To understand what these do, let's take a look at some maps.
This map of Britain shows that in summer you need to go south to get warm. The north of Scotland has holiday temperatures that can go below 13°C, but in the south they are over 17°C. These are average temperatures so this means it can get hotter and colder than this!
Let's take a look at Wales. The map shows that South East Wales is a warm place to be with temperatures over 16°C, but the rest of Wales is cooler with the northern tip of Anglesey under 15°C.
So, what causes these differences in temperature patterns? Let's take a look at the diagram to get some clues.
As you can see, the diagram shows what happens when the sun's rays enter Earth’s atmosphere and strike the surface. Its journey through the atmosphere is longer at Point A, and shorter at Point B. The longer the journey, the less heat gets to the ground and the cooler the place will be. The long journey north of the UK is warmed up less than the short journey south.
Also, the sun's rays will be spread out at a low angle in the north and concentrated from above more in the south. This explains why it is warmer in the south and colder in the north during the UK’s summertime.
Point B is located on the line of the equator and as the atmosphere is thinner, the sun's rays are spread over a larger area than at Point A. This happens because light travels in straight lines, but then hits the Earth which is round.
This map shows a different trend! In winter it is colder in the east, sometimes below 4 °C and warmer in the west, sometimes over 7°C.
To the west of Wales and the UK is the Atlantic Ocean. During the winter, the Atlantic acts as a giant hot water bottle and helps keep western areas warm. To the east of the UK is a large continental area (Europe and Asia) separated by just a narrow sea.
Even worse, if air from the continent moves over us, it picks up moisture as it passes over the North Sea and then drops it on us as snow. This is what happened in the winter of 2010 when many schools in Wales were shut down because of the snow, but even more in Eastern England were shut down.
Temperatures have a big impact on many economic activities, like farming and tourism. In West Wales, warmer winter temperatures mean that the growing season starts early so farmers can make extra money by planting early season new potatoes and salad crops.
In the east, the colder winters mean that crops start growing later in the year. But, on the other hand, the hot eastern summers are perfect for ripening crops.
This year, 2010, has produced a bumper harvest for UK wheat farmers thanks to the warmer weather. The harvest was up by five per cent on 2009. Also, in February and March 2010 the Aviemore Ski resort in Scotland had the deepest and longest lasting snow, and the best skiing conditions for decades!
Draw maps or diagrams to explain the differences in the UK's temperature between summer and winter.
How do you think these temperature patterns might affect you?