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By Charles F. Gritzner

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There are many accounts of both Native Americans and European settlers suffering from the severe cold. During the early 1600s, ice remained on Lake Superior until early June. By comparison, severe cold during the winter of 2008–2009 caused the greatest freeze-over of Lake Superior in three decades. Nonetheless, shipping resumed in late March. In 1780, New York Harbor 2 30 CHANGING CLImATES froze over. Residents were able to walk across the Hudson and East rivers and between Manhattan and Staten islands.

Is it possible that natural forces, rather than “hot air” from politicians and others, really determine climatic trends? In the following chapter, you will learn about those forces that are responsible for changing climates. 31 3 CAuSES oF CLImATE CHANGE W eather and climate change constantly. Nighttime temperatures, for example, are usually cooler than daytime temperatures. This daily temperature cycle is caused by the simplest of all Earth-sun relationships. The sun is the source of insolation (incoming solar radiation).

Would you expect temperatures to be colder northward and warmer southward? Of course! You moved, but the climate did not change. As huge chunks of Earth’s surface slid about over the planet’s surface, they changed latitudinal locations. Antarctica, for example, has fossil remains of life that existed only in much warmer climates than the continent experiences today. That is possible because Antarctica drifted from a mid-latitude location to its present location in the South Polar region. Landforms and Climate Land features, particularly mountains, have a major impact on weather and climate.

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