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Planets Distance From Sun Diameter Characteristic Feature Number of Satellite

Mercury 58 million km 4,900 km No atmosphere.

Rocky, many craters.
Temp. –1700 C to 4000C —

Venus 108 million km 12,000 km Atmosphere is mostly

carbon dioxide.
Vast plains and high
Average temp. over 5000 C —

Earth 150 million km 12,750 km Atmosphere is mostly 1 satellite —

nitrogen and oxygen. Moon
Surface covered with water.
Temp. is 150C

Mars 228 million km 6,800 km Thin atmosphere, mostly 2 satellites —

carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Phobos
Surface has polar ice caps and Deimos
and dry river beds. Temp.
ranges from –1000 C to
about –300 C

Jupiter 778 million km 1,43,000 km Atmosphere is mostly 16 satellites called

hydrogen and helium. Galilean satellites.
No solid surface. Temp. 4 largest
ranges to –1250 C in the satellites are Io,
atmosphere. Europa, Ganymede
and Callisto

Saturn 1,427 million km 1,20,000 km Atmosphere is mostly 20 satellites —

hydrogen and helium. largest visible
No solid surface. satellite Titan
Average temp. in
atmosphere is
about –1800 C

Uranus 2,869 million km 52,000 km Atmosphere is mostly 15 satellites

hydrogen and helium.
No solid surface.
Average temp. in
atmosphere is about –2250 C

Neptune 4,505 million km 49,000 km Atmosphere is mostly 8 satellites

hydrogen. No solid surface.
average temp. in
Atmosphere is about –2200 C

Pluto 5,890 million km 2,300 km Atmosphere is mostly methane. 1 satellite

Surface is solid with unknown
Temp. is about –2300 C

Mineral Hardness (Based on Moh’s Scale)

Talc 1
Gypsum 2
Calcite 3
Fluorite 4
Apatite 5
Orthoclase 6
Quartz 7
Topaz 8
Corundum 9
Diamond 10

Name Chemical Formula Economic Uses

Boehmite AlOOH Ore of aluminium

Diaspore HAlO2 -do-
Alunite KAl2(SO4)2. (OH)6 -do-
Magnetite Fe3O4 Ore of iron
Hematite Fe2O3 -do-
Goethite HFeO2 -do-
Siderite FeCO3 -do-
Rutile TiO2 Ore of titanium
Ilmenite FeTiO2 -do-
Pentlandite (Fe,Ni)9 S8 Ore of nickel
Niccolite NiAs -do-
Chalcopyrite CuFe S2 Ore of copper
Chalcocite Cu2S -do-
Covellite CuS -do-
Azurite 2CuCO3.Cu(OH)2 -do-
Malachite CuCO3.Cu(OH)2 -do-
Cuprite Cu2O -do-
Copper Cu -do-
Galena PbS Ore of lead
Jamesonite Pb4FeSb6S11 -do-
Bournonite CuPbSbS3 -do-
Sphalerite ZnS Ore of zinc
Wurtzite — —
Smithsonite ZnCO3 Ore of zinc
Calamine Zn4(Si2O7)(OH)2.H2O -do-
Cassiterite SnO2 Ore of tin
Stannite Cu2FeSnS4 -do-
Cinnabar HgS Ore of mercury
Polyxene (Pt, Fe) Ore of platinum
Argenite Ag2S Ore of silver
Proustite Ag3AsS3 -do-

Incoming Solar Radiation Percentage

Absorption by O3 3
Absorption by H2O and aerosols 13
Absorption by clouds 2
Back scattered by clouds 24
Back scattered by air and aerosols 7
Back scattered by surface 4
Total 53
Absorption by ground
From the sun 25
From the atmosphere and clouds 22
Total 47
Total Incoming Radiation 100

Outgoing Terrestrial Radiation

Short Waves Nil
Back radiation from H2O, CO2 and clouds to outer space 31
Back radiation from ground to outer space 4
Total 35

Long Waves
Back radiation from ground 5
Back radiation from H2O, CO2 and clouds 60
Total 65

Total Outgoing Radiation 100

Surface Balance (as Percentage of Incoming Solar Radiation Outside the Atmosphere)

Incoming from
the sun 25
the atmosphere 26

Total 51
Outgoing to
the atmosphere
Long wave to H2O, CO2 and clouds 13
Latent heat 24
Sensible heat 5
Outer space
Back scattered from ground 4
Long wave 5
Total 51

Name Area Percentage Volume Percentage

(sq. km.) (cu. km)

I. Oceans
Atlantic Ocean 82,441,500 22.83 323,613,300 23.61
Indian Ocean 73,442,700 20.34 291,030,000 21.23
Pacific Ocean 1,65,246,200 45.77 707,555,000 51.63
Arctic Ocean 14,090,100 3.91 16,980,000 1.23

Sub Total 3,35,220,500 92.85 1,339,178,000 97.70

II. Inter-Continental Seas

Malay Sea 8,143,100 2.26 9,873,000 0.72
Central American Sea 4,319,500 1.21 9,573,000 0.70
Mediterranean Sea 2,965,900 0.82 4,238,000 0.30

Sub Total 15,428,500 4.29 23,684,000 1.72

III. Smaller Enclosed Seas

Baltic Sea 422,300 0.12 23,000
Hudson Bay 1,232,300 0.34 1,58,000
Red Sea 437,900 0.12 2,15,000
Persian Gulf 238,800 0.06 6,000

Sub Total 2,331,300 0.64 4,02,000 0.05

IV. Fringing Seas

Bering Sea 2,268,200 0.62 3,259,000
Okhotsk Sea 1,527,600 0.42 1,279,000
Japan Sea 1,007,700 0.28 1,361,000
E. China Sea 1,249,200 0.34 235,000
Andaman Sea 797,600 0.22 694,000
California Sea 162,200 0.04 132,000
North Sea 575,300 0.17 54,000
English Channel and Irish Seas 178,500 0.05 10,000
Laurentian Sea 237,800 0.06 30,000
Bass Sea 74,800 0.02 5,000

Sub Total 8,078,900 2.22 7,059,000 0.51

Grand Total 3,61,059,200 13,70,323,500

Unit I



ou have already been introduced to implications of location and arrangement of
geography as a part of social science in these phenomena for human beings.
secondary school. As such you learnt Over 6,000 million people live on the earth
about the world — its people and places; in innumerable places called villages, towns
distribution of various natural and cultural and cities spread over many continents and
features and phenomena over the earth’s countries. Continents, mountains, rivers,
surface; and the emerging patterns of human- plains and many other physical features are
environment interactions at local, regional and the outcome of natural processes in action,
global levels. Now, at this stage, you are being while countries, villages, towns, cities,
introduced to geography as a ‘discipline’ for the agriculture, industry, means of transport and
first time. In this chapter, you will get to know communication etc. are the products of
the nature and scope of geography and its human activities. A process is a sequence of
evolution over the years and the main change systematically related through a chain
branches. Soon you would realise that this of causes and effects. Human beings use the
fascinating area of study, offers immense natural resources of the earth such as land,
possibilities to use and apply the knowledge water, air, minerals, animals, forests and many
and skills required for living and working in others to make a living and to shape their
today’s world. culture. In doing so they change the earth
surface enormously. It is no longer natural in
NATURE OF GEOGRAPHY the real sense except in remote areas that are still
inaccessible, such as Antarctica. The inhabited
You must have noted that geography is part of the earth has a clear imprint of the human
concerned with the study of the earth’s surface use of nature.
where all life forms including human beings Geography thus, studies the sur face
live and all human activities take place. The features of the earth and their association with
earth’s surface includes the oceans, the one another and derives meaningful spatial or
atmosphere, the upper part of the earth’s crust regional patterns. It studies the factors and
and the biosphere. processes, which change these features; their
The earth’s sur face is ever changing, mutual relationships; and their spatial
sometimes slowly and imperceptibly, while at arrangement. And finally it studies the
others, rapidly and perceptibly. In general, the implications of the above changes for human
natural phenomena like mountains, rivers, beings and their activities.
lakes etc. change slowly while the cultural It would be pertinent to note that all
phenomena like buildings, roads, crops, etc. surface features of the earth that attract the
change fast. Geography studies the origin of attention of geographers are not visible; many
these changing phenomena; the processes of them are conceptual and, therefore,
that change them and have brought them to cannot be seen on the ground. For example,
the present state and arranged them in space we cannot see education, health, per capita
in the way they exist. It also studies the income as we can see rivers, mountains, roads

etc. We can, however, see their social • How have they come into being?
topography when we convert their intensities • How are they distributed and why?
into patterns on maps. Thus, we have maps that • How are they associated with each other?
show literacy, mortality, longevity of life, • Are the existing patterns of distribution
environment, prevalence of diseases, quality of conducive to human welfare?
life, etc. • What can be done to modify them?
Nature provides the base, the resources as • What are the implications of the proposed
well as the resistances. Human beings use these changes for humans?
natural endowments to evolve their cultures and To sum up, geography is a science that
civilisations. Culture is the cumulative product studies the spatial arrangement of things on
of experiences; it consists of values, norms, the surface of the earth resulting from a
beliefs, thoughts, ethical standards and styles dynamic interaction between humans and
of life and living. Civilisation is the physical nature. Unlike other disciplines, geography
manifestation of culture. Houses, villages, cities, cannot be defined by its subject matter for
means of transport and communication, anything present on the earth surface can be
agriculture, industry, etc. forms part of and is studied by it. Geography uses
civilisation. Apparently, the two are closely information provided by various disciplines,
related and almost inseparable. In our all the way from nuclear physics to, let us say,
discussion, we will use the term culture to ancient history, as raw materials to analyse
include civilisation. Culture is cumulative and the emerging patterns and structures of the
therefore, ever changing. earth sur face and their implications for
In ancient societies human interaction human beings.
with nature was rather direct: As time passed,
experience accumulated to give rise to various SCOPE OF GEOGRAPHY
kinds of cultures. Cultures are not only the Literal meaning of the term ‘geography’ is
outcome of the interaction between humans ‘description of the earth’ (geo = earth +
and nature but also among the humans living graphos=description). The term was first used
in different natural environments. It is an ever by Eratosthenes, a Greek geographer who
evolving and ever changing phenomenon. lived in Alexandria, Egypt during 276-192 BC.
That is why in similar natural settings, This is how geography was conceived in
cultures and civilisations are not always the ancient times. At present, it is no longer
same. The earth surface that geographer confined to the description of the earth. It has
studies is, therefore, not homogeneous or now acquired the status of a science that
isometric; it is marked by vast differences in explains the arrangement of various natural
both natural and cultural features. and cultural features on the earth surface. In
Geography is thus, a natural-cum-human this section we will examine the scope of
science engaged in the study of factors and geography in greater details.
processes, both natural and human, that Geography is often called the mother of
shape the earth surface and give rise to all sciences. There is some truth in it. Humans
different cultures and civilisations. It classifies in their early stages of civilised life had to cope
and delineates the earth features to arrive at with an omnipotent and omnipresent nature.
regional patterns and structures; it identifies Nature was most important object of curiosity.
the agencies and processes at work to change As apparent from ancient literary works of
the existing patterns; and predicts the practically all cultures, nature was often
possible outcomes of the processes at work. personified and its elements were presented
Thus, geography tries to answer the following as Gods and Goddesses, and devils and evil
questions: spirits, depending upon how they affected
• What are the natural and cultural features human life. Humans suffered from serious
on the surface of the earth? limitations imposed by nature because nature

was overpowering and the technological specialisation, which ultimately gave rise to
means to control it were primitive and systematic disciplines like physics, chemistry,
toothless. As such humans adjusted biology, economics, sociology, political science,
themselves to natural environment; they did etc. that once formed part of one unified
not try to transgress the dictates of nature; discipline called geography. Today there are
they cooperated with nature and felt one hundreds of disciplines and sub-disciplines
with it. aiming at unravelling the mysteries of nature
Domestication of animals and plants set in and human behaviour, not holistically, but
motion a great change in human life. It from one or the other perspective. They
culminated in Agricultural Revolution, which individually see part of the reality even if in
lasted until eighteenth century in Europe and great depth, not the whole of it.
nineteenth century in Asia, Africa and Latin The branching off of specialised disciplines
America. As the cultural base of humans did not, however, diminish the place and
expanded, their relationship with nature importance of geography. The need for a
changed from subservience to cooperation. discipline, which looked at the causes and
Their tools and techniques improved, as did consequences of the arrangement of various
their knowledge pool. By the seventeenth natural and cultural features of earth surface
century, they broke the shackles of nature holistically existed before and exists even
and ventured to control it to their advantage. today. Geography does not compete with
They developed a great variety of mechanical specialised sister disciplines; apart from
and chemical devices to usher in a change generating its own information, it takes
that is popularly known as Industrial knowledge generated by them and processes
Revolution. It took about three centuries, it to build up theories and principles to explain
eighteenth to twentieth to spread all over the the ongoing changes on the earth surface.
world. Geography is, therefore, a truly holistic and
The strength of the Industrial Revolution interdisciplinary field of study engaged in
lay in scientific inventions on the one hand understanding the changing spatial structure
and European discovery of the sea routes to at different territorial levels, global to local,
reach sparsely settled rich lands of Americas, and at different times, from past to the future.
Australia, Africa and highly advanced cultures
of Asia on the other. With increasing EVOLUTION OF GEOGRAPHY
interaction, knowledge about continents and As noted earlier, geography is perhaps the
oceans, mountains and plains, rivers and oldest intellectual preoccupation of man. Its
lakes, and peoples and places increased many foundation was laid by Indian, Chinese,
fold and measurements of distances, Greek, Arab, and other scholars of times
directions, heights, and depths along with immemorial who ventured out beyond their
details of cultural landscapes became own locale to write about other lands and
necessary for preparing maps and charts. peoples. Atharva Veda written around tenth
Geography became really global. The attitude century BC gives the details of the then known
of human beings changed and they started earth; its physical features, biogeography and
moving away from mythology to scientific human settlements. Indian Rishis went to
presentation of both natural and human different parts of the world to carry the
phenomena. message of Indian culture particularly of
Once the spirit of scientific enquiry was Hinduism and Buddhism to Central Asia,
kindled and information about the world East Asia, Southeast Asia, eastern coast of
became more copious, the urge for deeper Africa, etc. The Chinese scholars made similar
analysis of the processes that gave rise to such trips to different parts of the then known
a great variety of natural and cultural features world particularly to India, and so did the
in the world grew. This necessitated Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Arab

travellers. They were the first discoverers of the Humboldt and Karl Ritter played a leading role.
unknown lands. The experiential knowledge Prior to them Imanuel Kant, the great German
of these itinerants produced a unique culture, master of logical thought, had given geography
the imprints of which still persist in the its place in the overall framework of organised
commonality of certain human values in South, objective knowledge otherwise known as
Southeast and East Asia. One gets a sense of science. He enumerated five sub-fields of
unity in diversity . geography: mathematical geography; moral
In sixth century BC, Thales of Miletus, a (cultural) geography; political geography;
Greek geographer gave the size and shape of commercial geography, and theological
the earth; in second century BC, Ptolemy gave (religious) geography.
latitudes and longitudes for map making and Geography became a very popular subject
locating places. In first century BC, Strabo, a in schools because it gave knowledge about
Roman geographer gave detailed description the lands to prospective migrants, adminis-
of the world in 17 volumes. The contributions trators and traders. Gradually, along with the
of Indian astronomers and geographers were description of places and peoples, explanation
highly advanced for their times. Aryabhatta for varying responses of people to natural
propounded the theory of heliocentric environment was also presented. Thus,
universe a century before Copernicus, and geography, in the later half of the nineteenth
Bhaskaracharya mentioned about the gravity century, emerged as the study of the
of the earth, 1,200 years before Newton. dynamics of man-environment relationship
Kalidasa’s description of the geography of and its imprints on the earth surface.
central India in Meghdoota is highly Geographers were not however united on
professional. Arabs too made significant the question of man-environment
contributions and carried the known relationship. Those who postulated that
knowledge to far off places. In fourteenth environment controlled or determined human
century AD, Ibn Batuta, travelled to India and activities were called ‘determinists’. They were
wrote about its land and people. lead by Friederich Ratzel and Elsworth
During fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, Huntington. And those who said that man
discoveries of new lands and ocean routes could modify the environment to create new
generated vast amount of information about opportunities for himself were lead by Vidal
physical configurations of the world and the de la Blache and L. Febvre. They were known
places and people beyond the shores of as ‘possibilists.’
Europe. These details enabled Europeans to In early twentieth century, H.J.
migrate from overpopulated Europe to less Mackinder, a British geographer of German
populated lands of Americas, Australia and origin, looked at geography as a science of
parts of Africa relieving Europe from the relationships; as a study of arrangement and
growing pressure of population. It also association of things on the face of the earth
enabled the Europeans to politically and to form regional systems and structures. He
economically subjugate practically the whole strongly advocated for synthesis of physical
of the resource rich Asia, Africa, Australia and and cultural streams of geography into a
Americas. Control over the resources of the regional frame. According to him humans
world and the opportunity for emigration to could not exist without nature and nature
other lands, were the main factors behind the could not escape the influence of humans.
rise of Eur ope as the most developed The two together shaped the earth surface
continent of the world. and gave rise to regional patter ns and
By the end of the eighteenth century, structures. Thus, Mackinder defined
efforts were afoot to scientifically analyse the geography as an outlook, as a way of looking
geographical accounts available from various at the earth; it did not confine itself to any
sources. Two German geographers, A.V. specific domain of factual information; it

studied the spatial patterns on the earth became apparent in 1970s. It was Information
surface, the processes involved in their Revolution; its impact became apparent in
evolution, and the impacts they produced on 1990s. Apart from the fact that it enabled
humans and their activities. geographers to use their newly acquired
Thus, geography in the twentieth century quantitative techniques with greater ease and
became a discipline, which studied the earth swiftness, it produced immense amount of
surface from two perspectives: systematic information in photographs taken from several
and regional. The former produced sub- thousand metres above the earth otherwise
disciplines like geomorphology, climatology, known as remote sensing. Such photos were
biogeography, political geography, economic taken from aircrafts in post- World War II
geography, health geography etc., while the decades. To begin with, it was meant to secure
latter gave rise to regional geography, regional information about enemy positions and
science, regional development, regional movements during the war but soon it became
planning, area planning, etc. The first started an important source of information for
with systematic knowledge to arrive at development of agriculture, industry,
regional patterns, while the second started transportation, communication and public
with regions to arrive at systematic details. utilities. Along with the air photographs came
In both cases, humans remained a central photogrammetry, the technique of air photo
theme: how systemic processes and regional interpretation.
patterns affected humans and their activities. The 1980s brought artificial satellites,
In the second half of the twentieth century, which circled the earth at a set speed and
search for an acceptable definition of route, several kilometres above the earth to
geography was abandoned. It was realised take photographs of much larger chunks of
that no living discipline could be defined once the earth and with far greater precision and
for all. It must change with time. Geography sharpness than the aircrafts could ever do. It
too must change and no definition could be is possible to get satellite imageries
considered final. A group of geographers, (photographs) with a resolution of less than
economists, and statisticians under the one metre, that is to say that even a metre
leadership of Walter Isard of University of long thing could be photographed and
Pennsylvania, USA joined hands to evolve a identified. Further, practically all details of the
new and hybrid analytical discipline called earth surface, above it and below it, can be
Regional Science. It brought geography closer photographed. It is possible to image mineral
to other social sciences and mathematics and deposits and sources of ground water, to chart
triggered of f what is now known as weather conditions, to locate various features
quantitative revolution in geography. of the earth surface and changes therein, and
As quantitative methods and techniques to trace the movement of people, armies,
of Regional Science penetrated other social goods and services from place to place The
sciences, an environment of cross-fertilisation satellite imageries have made air photograph
set in and quantitative geography became a antiquated. The information they provide is
craze during 1960s and 1970s. It provided unimaginably vast and detailed. They have
scientific tools to study the relationship enabled geographers to develop Geographic
between physical and human phenomena, Information System (GIS), Land Information
and carry out regional analysis with a System (LIS), and Global Positioning System
precision never attempted before. It enabled (GPS) as location decision, administrative and
geographers to handle large number of factors managerial tools. Geography of the twenty-first
and processes together to discern meaningful century is set to enter a new era of Spatial
patterns and structures. Information Technology (SIT). Geographers of
Along with quantitative revolution, the tomorrow would be trained not only in
signs of another major revolutionary change answering the question what is where and

why but also in what should be where and why; Physical Geography
not only in generating information for decision
Physical geography can be divided into four
making but also in actively participating in
main sub-branches:
decision making. • Geomorphology;
The last quarter of the twentieth century • Climatology;
has put geography on a new trajectory of • Hydrology;
development with SIT as the main source of • Soil geography.
information and information processing. It Geomorphology is a genetic study of
was also a period when concern about the landfor ms like continents, mountains,
deteriorating environment became vocal. plateaus, plains, river valleys, and a vast
Pollution of land, water, and air reached an number of other features. Climatology is the
alarming state. Environment had always been systematic study of climate and its constituent
a major concern of geography. Environmental elements like temperature, pressure, winds,
geography thus, emerged as a major branch rainfall, storms, etc. and their distribution.
of geography. Hydrology is the study of the role water plays
in nature and human life through oceans,
BRANCHES OF GEOGRAPHY rivers, glaciers, and water vapour. Soil
geography is the study of soil formation, its
Today geography is the only discipline that
typology and distribution.
brings all natural and human sciences on a
common platfor m to understand the
dynamics of the spatial configuration of the
earth surface. It is an interdisciplinary and The main sub-branches of biogeography are:
integrative science having numerous • Plant geography;
branches (Fig.1.1). Space in geographic • Zoogeography;
terminology is the congregation of places • Human ecology; and
on earth sur face to form patter ns and • Environmental geography.
structures, which support life particularly Plant geography studies the distribution
human life. of various kinds of forests and grasslands.
Zoo geography studies the distribution of
Systematic Geography animals and micro-organisms, and human
ecology studies the changing human-nature
Geography looks at the earth surface from relationship and its consequences for human
two perspectives: systematic, and regional. life and living. Environmental geography
A study of specific natural or social studies the quality of the living environment
phenomenon that gives rise to certain spatial and its implications for human welfare.
patterns and structures on the earth surface
is called systematic study. There can be as Human Geography
many systematic branches of geography as Human beings working with the nature create
the phenomena studied. Ordinarily, a great variety of cultural phenomena like
systematic geography is divided into four main villages, towns, cities, countries, factories,
branches: roads, houses, etc. They are also responsible
• Physiography, conventionally known as for destroying many things through conflicts
physical geography; and wars. Study of location and distribution
• Biogeography, including environmental of all such phenomena fall under the purview
geography; of human geography. The main sub-branches
• Human geography, also referred as of human geography are:
cultural geography; and • Cultural geography;
• Geographic methods and techniques. • Social geography;

t t
Systematic Regional

t t t t t t t t

Physical Bio Human/ Methods and Techniques Regional Regional Regional Regional
Cultural of Geography Studies Planning Analysis Development

t t t t
Plant Zoo Human Environmental
Ecology t t t t
Field Cartography Quantitative Geo-Informatics

t t t t
Geomorphology Climatology Hydrology Soil

t t t t t t t t t t
Cultural Social Population Urban Rural Economic Agricultural Industrial Political Geography of
Trade and

Fig1.1 : Geography — Branches and Sub-Fields


• Population geography; planning for problem areas and regions, are

• Urban geography; some of the principle concerns of regional
• Rural geography; geography. The main sub-branches of regional
• Economic geography; geography are:
• Agricultural geography; • Regional studies;
• Industrial geography; • Regional analysis;
• Political geography; • Regional development;
• Geography of trade and transport. • Regional planning including area and
Each of these studies the distribution of community planning.
the relevant elements, tries to find out the Regional studies encompass study of
processes involved in their origin and uneven selected areas and regions to bring out their
distribution, delimits the patter ns of geographic personality and potentials. They
distribution, and predicts the emerging include regional surveys. Regional analysis
patterns and structures. is far more technical than regional studies
both in terms of methodology used and the
Geographic Methods and Techniques scope. Regional analysis uses highly advanced
statistical and mathematical techniques in
Under geographic methods and techniques
analysing the data and lays greater emphasis
on interregional relations and flows to
• Field studies (physical as well socio-
determine the potentials of a region for future
economic surveys);
development. Regional development is a
• Cartography;
branch of study that focuses on the processes
• Quantitative geography;
of development in a region and suggests
• Spatial information system (GIS, LIS,
policies and programs, which can help the
region overcome its problems. Regional
planning is a technical exercise involving the
Regional Geography
theory and practice of area planning for urban
Unlike systematic geography, regional as well rural areas.
geography starts with the spatial imprints of To sum up, geography is a unified field of
one or all the systematic geographic processes study known for its approach and point of
discernible as regions of different sizes. view rather than for its subject matter. It
Regions could be based on a single factor like studies the spatial structure of the earth
relief, rainfall, vegetation, per capita income, surface and its implications for human life
literacy and so on. They could also be and living. As such the branches of geography
multifactor regions created by the association listed above are not exhaustive; they are only
of two or more factors. Administrative areas indicative. There can be as many branches
like states, districts, tehsils/taluks, revenue as the subject matters studied to arrive at
villages also can be treated as regions, even if meaningful scientific conclusions about the
they have no rationale other than causes and consequences of the existing or
convenience. For planning and development emerging spatial patterns and structures of
purposes, one can form specialised regions. the whole or part of the earth surface.
Identification of the relevant geographical There are two ways of studying geographic
characteristics of a region; study of interplay problems. One of the ways is to select a
between nature and human and its regional geographical factor such as climate and study
implications; delimitation of regions using its mechanism to evolve typologies and to
given criteria; tracing of mutual relationship examine the causes and consequences of their
among the regions, both vertical and spatial distribution on the surface of the earth.
horizontal; finding regional structures of The focus in this case is on climate and
economy, society, and polity; and regional climatic types as modified by local and

regional factors. Such a study falls within the of human mind working on the physical
purview of systematic geography. Alter - base of the earth rather than of nature working
natively, one can start with a region, let us on man.
say a state of India, or a river basin, and then Movement from the theory of environmental
study it from different perspectives to determinism to that of social determinism did
understand its uniqueness, to diagnose its play a balancing role and made geography
problems and to suggest policies and plans once again a broad based discipline but it
to solve the problems. In either case region is induced a mindset which treated natural
a common denominator. Scientific study of the environment — land, water, air, soils,
causes and consequences of the spatial vegetation, animals etc. — as mere resources
structure of the earth surface forms the core to achieve economic progress. Resource
of geography. exploitation became a desirable activity. This
led to the destruction, pollution and shortage
IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY of practically all natural resources including
free gifts like air.
This book pertains to physical geography. It By 1950, humans realised the damage
covers all that is natural— lithosphere, they had done to their own future. They
atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. realised that natural resources constituted the
Lithosphere covers land forms, atmosphere life support system on the earth. Their
deals with climates, hydrosphere is the study destruction could lead to extinction of all life
of water features and biosphere focuses on on planet earth. Geographers in India, under
living things like plants, animals, micro the influence of American geographers and
organisms and human beings. Soils are the guided by theories of economic growth
products of all the four elements of physical deemphasised physical geography. In the
geography. light of the new situation emerging from
Modern geography, as it emerged in environmental crisis, geography has sought
Europe, was oriented to physical aspects. This to return to its physical base. Geography of
tradition continued almost till the end of the the twenty-first century has once again
nineteenth century. Colonial era was marked become a balanced, integrated and
by over emphasis on physical environment as comprehensive discipline giving equal
a determining factor in human behaviour, but importance to both physical and human
there were dissenting voices particularly from geography. There can be no geography
France and the United States where geographic without physical geography; nor there can be
patterns were considered primarily as products one without human geography.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) Who first used the term ‘geography’?
(ii) Why is geography often called the mother of all sciences?
(iii) Why was the need felt for specialisation, which gave rise to systematic disciplines?
(iv) Why did geography become a popular subject in schools by the end of the eighteenth
(v) Name the two major revolutionary changes in geography, which influenced it most
during the second half of the twentieth century.
(vi) What are the two ways of studying geographic problems?

2. Distinguish between:
(i) Culture and civilisation;
(ii) Systematic and regional geographies;
(iii) ‘Deterministic’ and ‘Possibilistic’ schools of thought;
(iv) Physical geography and biogeography.
3. Write short notes on the following:
(i) Geography in the twentieth century;
(ii) Geographic methods and techniques;
(iii) Contributions of ancient Greek and Indian scholars to geography.
4. Discuss the scope of geography with changing times.
5. ‘There can be no geography without physical or human geography’. Explain this statement
by giving suitable examples.

Project Work
Collect information regarding some eminent Indian geographers of the twentieth century and
their contributions.

Unit II


iewed from space, the planet earth Collision Hypothesis : Sir James Jeans and
appears as a round ball that shines Sir Harold Jeffreys, well-known scientists of
bright and blue. Aristotle, a Greek England, came forward with the collision
philosopher, believed that the earth was at the hypothesis. According to this hypothesis,
centre of the universe and that the moon, sun, gaseous material was pulled away from the
planets and stars orbited around it. Indian pre-existing sun by the gravitational
astronomer Aryabhatta, however, believed in attraction of a passing star. Giant tongues of
heliocentric solar system. Today, we know that matter came out. These tongues broke
the sun is a star and the planets revolving into small chunks or planetesimals, which
around it came out of it in the distant past. The went flying as cold bodies into orbits around
sun, its nine planets and the satellites of the the sun in the plane of the passing star.
planets constitute the solar system. By collision and gravitational attraction,
Planets differ in size, constituent matter the larger planetesimals swept up the
and temperature. All these characteristics are smaller pieces, and thus, were formed the
related to their respective distances from the planets.
sun. The earth is one of the small inner
planets, along with Mercury, Venus and Mars. THE BIRTH OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Inner planets comprise of heavy elements and
The earth was formed at the same time as the
are closest to the sun. The earth is, however, the
sun and the other planets of the solar system.
only planet with conditions favourable for the
The entire solar system, consisting of the sun,
sustenance of life.
nine planets, and their satellites form a very
small part of the galaxy that consists of many
stars (Appendix I). Innumerable such galaxies
Nebular Hypothesis : In 1755, Ger man form the universe. Our galaxy is popularly,
philosopher Imanuel Kant hypothesised that called the Milky Way. The pressure and
slowly rotating cloud of gas, called Nebula, in temperature at the centre of the Nebula that
some unspecified fashion condensed into a produced the solar system became so great,
number of discrete and globular bodies. The that it triggered a nuclear reaction. Some of the
great French mathematician Laplace also hydrogen in the cloud fused into helium,
proposed, more or less, the same theory in releasing great amount of energy.
1796. According to Kant and Laplace, the The gaseous cloud exploded to form a
original mass of gas cooled and began to supernova. The explosion caused shock waves
contract. The rotational speed increased as a that pushed the denser portions of cloud to
consequence of the law of conservation of collapse under their own gravity. The dense
angular momentum. Thus, successive rings of core grew larger and hotter as its gravity
gaseous material were spun off from the attracted more material. In the process, the
central mass by centrifugal force. In the final hot core developed into a protostar. Finally, the
stages the rings condensed into planets. protostar became the infant sun.

Homogeneous Accretion Hypothesis : The volatile rich nucleus and more metal-rich and
homogeneous accretion hypothesis maintains devolatilised outer rings.
that the earth accreted from an intimate mixture
of silicate particles and metal particles. The ORIGIN OF THE SATELLITES (MOON)
material was assumed to have been formed in A discussion on the origin of the earth will be
the solar nebula by a complex series of chemical incomplete without discussing the origin of the
and physical processes which had occurred moon. In this case also there are many
prior to the accretion of planets. According to hypotheses. Radiometric dating of the rocks
hypothesis, accretion of the earth occurred over from the moon show that it was born along
a sufficiently long period (107 – 108 years) so that with the earth. It is not younger. Apparently
its gravitational potential energy was efficiently then, there are two possibilities. It either came
radiated away and it formed in an initially ‘cool’ out of the sun in a gaseous form but being too
and unmelted condition. small was attracted by the earth, or it flung out
Subsequently, heating by long-lived of the earth due to a huge meteorite falling on
radioactive elements occurred, leading to the earth. The area where the meteorite fell,
melting of the metal parts and its segregation a huge hollow was created, which is now filled
into the core. The major element composition up by the ocean and the landmass flung to the
of the earth and its depletions in volatile outer space created the moon.
elements can be explained through this In all fairness, several possible courses for
hypothesis. It also explains the approximate our planet’s evolution are presented here. In
chemical uniformity of the mantle formed after general, there is fair agreement in the course
the formation of the core. of events. Looking for the plausible
Heterogeneous Accretion Hypothesis : explanation to the earth’s evolution is like
According to heterogeneous accretion making a house out of a variety of blocks. The
hypothesis, the composition of the material constraint is that each block has to fit with the
from which the earth accreted changed with ones under it and over it and that the whole
time giving rise to layered structure of the structure has to stand up, but there may be
earth. According to this model, the earth more than one way to build the house.
formed ‘inside out’, with a cool, oxidised, and


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) Why do planets differ in size, constituent matter and temperature?
(ii) What is a Nebula?
(iii) What are planetesimals?
(iv) Who first proposed Nebular hypothesis?
(v) Name our galaxy.
(vi) What is a protostar?
(vii) How is it known that the moon was born along with the earth?
2. Write short notes on:
(i) Collision hypothesis; (ii) Homogeneous accretion hypothesis; and (iii) Origin of the moon.
3. Discuss various hypotheses for the evolution of planets.
4. Describe the evolution of the solar system.


lthough earthquakes can have two types; they travel more or less together,
catastrophic effects, they can also but with different motions (Fig. 3.1). One type
reveal a great deal about the earth’s consists of Rayleigh waves, named after the
internal structure. The shock waves arising English physicist, Lord Rayleigh. They can be
from earthquakes pass through the interior of visualised as water waves travelling across the
the earth in different ways and provide the surface of a still pond after a pebble has been
evidence about the inaccessible interior tossed into the water. The second type of
regions of the earth. Several kinds of wave surface waves is the Love wave, named after
motions (P and S waves) produced by the the physicist A.E.H. Love. Motion in the Love
earthquakes are of a class called body waves wave is entirely horizontal, at right angles to
because they travel through the solid body of the direction of wave motion.
the earth. Body waves are distinguished from The waves travel at different rates from a
surface waves, which move along the free common source. Therefore, time interval
upper crust of the earth. Surface waves are of between their arrival at the recording station
will also vary. Besides, the density of rocks and
nature of the medium, whether solid or liquid,
through which the P and S waves pass, also
affect the propagation of waves. Based on
these observations, the earth’s interior has
been divided into three layers – crust, mantle
and core (Fig. 3.2).


Study of seismogram (a seismograph record)
has confirmed the existence of a spherical core
at the earth’s centre and has added insights
into its physical nature. In case the earth were
entirely solid, both P and S waves would travel
through in all directions. The body waves of
any large earthquake could be recorded
directly opposite its focus. It was, however,
found that there is a region on the globe
opposite the earthquake focus where S waves
are not received. That means, the S waves
cannot pass through the central part of the
Fig.3.1 : Forms of Surface Seismic Waves
earth because this part is made of a medium
A. Rayleigh Waves; and B. Love Waves

Fig.3.2 : Dimensions of the Earth’s Mantle and Core

which is not solid. Physicists have proved THE EARTH’S MANTLE

through experiments that S waves cannot be
The P waves make abrupt drop in velocity at
sent through a liquid medium. This proves that
the mantle-core boundary, whereas S wave
the earth’s core is in liquid state in contrast to
terminates at the mantle-core boundary
the surrounding mantle which is solid.
(Fig.3.3). Thus making a plane of dis-
The seismic waves bend as they travel
through the core and therefore, P waves are continuous surface between the core and the
not directly received in a zone, known as mantle known as Gutenberg discontinuity.
shadow zone, between 1030 and 1430 distant Through the earth’s mantle, upto nearly 2,900
from the focus. Also, S waves are not received km, the speed of earthquake waves is so high
there because they do not travel through the that only a very rigid and dense rock will
liquid core. Only surface waves are received in satisfy the observed conditions. Solid or rigid
this shadow zone. Beyond 1430 only P waves in this case means either crystalline or glassy.
passing through the core and surface waves It also means that, when subjected to the
travelling along the surface are received. From sudden twists and bends of earthquake waves,
the extent of the shadow zone, the earth’s core the rock behaves as an elastic solid, that is, it
is calculated to have a radius of 3,470 km, a changes shape when shear stresses are
little more than half the earth’s total radius. applied, but returns exactly to its former

shape when those stresses are removed. Thus,

the mantle consists of solid rock.
Based on the behaviour of seismic waves,
the mantle is sub-divided into two major parts
— the upper mantle and the lower mantle. The
upper mantle, extending from the crust to a
depth of about 650 km, includes the
asthenosphere, which occupies the upper 300
to 400 km. Rocks in the asthenosphere behave
as both a plastic solid and an elastic solid. The
matter possessing these remarkable
properties is an elastic-viscous substance —
it can be elastic and plastic at the same time,
depending on whether the forces that tend to
deform it are applied and released suddenly or
steadily. The presence of the soft layer or
plastic layer in the upper part of mantle was
suspected as far back as 1926 by
Temperature (K)

distinguished seismologist Beno Gutenburg.

He noticed that earthquake wave velocities are
slowed down below 150 km, after first
increasing rapidly from the surface to that
depth. This region is referred to as the low-
velocity zone.


The crust is distinguished from the mantle by
the presence of abrupt change in the velocity
of seismic waves. This corresponds to the
abrupt change in rigidity of the rock from crust
to mantle. The change in rigidity in turn is due
to change in mineral composition or in
physical state of the rocks. The P waves near
the surface travel at about 6 km per second
and this velocity increases gradually or
abruptly to the base of the crust, where it is
7 km per second. The surface of sudden
increase in wave velocity, which separates the
crust above from the mantle below, is the
Mohorovicic discontinuity, also called
Moho discontinuity or M discontinuity. It is
Fig.3.3 : The Earth’s Interior
named after the Yugoslav seismologist,
A. Increase in pressure with depth; B. Increase in
temperature with depth; C. Increase in density with Mohorovicic, who first recognised the
depth; and D. Velocity of P and S Waves. discontinuity in 1909.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) Name the three layers of the earth.
(ii) What is a seismogram?
(iii) Name two types of surface waves.
(iv) How do the rocks of the earth’s mantle behave when subjected to the earthquake waves?
(v) What is asthenosphere?
(vi) What is the radius of the earth’s core?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Body waves and surface waves;
(ii) Rayleigh waves and Love waves;
(iii) Gutenberg discontinuity and Mohorovicic discontinuity.
3. Write short notes on:
(i) Shadow zone; and (ii) The earth’s crust.
4. Discuss how do seismic waves suggest layering of the earth’s interior.
5. Describe the earth’s mantle.


he earth is constantly undergoing lithospheric plate boundaries is remarkably
change. Some changes are fast and strong.
some are slow. Earthquakes and
volcanoes are endogenic forces which cause TYPES OF SEISMIC WAVES
sudden changes on the earth. Weathering and
We have already discussed earthquake waves in
agents of sculpture are exogenic forces which
Chapter 3. In this section, we propose to examine
bring about slow changes. In the following
them in greater details. There are three types of
pages a description has been given about the
seismic waves generated by earthquake called
earthquakes and volcanoes.
Primary, Secondary and Long waves designated
as P, S, and L respectively. P waves are fast
travelling waves; they arrive first. S waves are
Earthquake is the trembling of the earth slower; they take almost twice as long to travel.
initiated by sudden shock. Sometimes it is so In fast travelling P waves, the individual particles
violent that it damages or destroys strong vibrate to and fro in the direction of wave
buildings. The devastation caused on propagation whereas in S waves the particles
26 January 2001 in Bhuj, Gujarat speaks of vibrate up and down at right angles to the
the violent nature of earthquakes. Most of the direction of propagation (Fig. 4.1).
shocks that cause the earth to tremble are The P waves travel through the body of the
associated with diastrophic movements. The earth at an average rate of 6 km/sec. They are
sudden slippage of rocks along the faults and faster at depth (about 8 km/sec to 11 km/sec)
also in some cases faults reaching the ground than near the surface. They travel through
surface, displace the objects on the ground. In
other cases, crustal rocks bend elastically and
set waves in motion.
The place where the earthquake originates
inside the earth is called its focus. The point
on the earth’s surface vertically above the
focus is called the epicentre. The waves travel
away through rocks in all the directions.
Shaking is the strongest near the epicentre.
Great accumulation of elastic strain is built up
constantly along active lithospheric plate
boundaries, particularly along converging
(where two plates meet) boundaries. Slippage
of opposed plates in these converging zones
release enormous quantities of energy in the
form of great earthquakes. The relationship Fig.4.1 : Earthquake Waves — Particle Motions
between earthquake activity or seismicity and in P Waves and S Waves

both solid and liquid medium. The S waves also somewhat larger in height than the P waves.
go through the body of the earth but at a slower Following it, smooth waves that increase
rate of 3.5 km/sec. L waves follow the greatly in amplitude to a maximum and then die
circumference of the earth and travel at more slowly are recorded. These are the surface
or less constant rate. They are also known as waves. Two measurements are made directly
surface waves. Thus, P and S waves travel by from the seismograph: (a) amplitude in mm of
a direct path through the earth (Fig. 4.2) while the largest (highest) wave recorded; and
L waves follow its circumference. (b) time in seconds elapsed between arrivals of
the P and S waves.

Earthquake Prediction
Two approaches have been adopted in
earthquake prediction. One approach is the
measurement of several kinds of significant
physical changes that take place immediately
prior to an earthquake. The second approach
is historical i.e. long-term seismic history of
the affected region. The physical changes are:

P Wave Velocity
Numerous small earthquakes are expected to
cause change in the velocity of P waves that
return to normal immediately before the large
earthquake. This change is monitored on

Ground Uplift
Slow movement of crustal masses before the
Fig.4.2 : Cross-Section of the Earth — Paths of
earthquake causes a large volume of rock to
P Waves; S Waves; and Surface Waves
become riddled with countless minute cracks
or microcracks. The ground water moves into
The Seismograph the newly created microcracks. The presence
The seismograph is a sensitive instrument that of water acts like hydraulic jack; the rock mass
records earthquakes thousands of kilometres swells and the ground surfaces experience
distant and so weak that their vibrations could doming or uplift before major earthquakes.
not possibly be recognised by the human This change is referred to as dilatancy.
senses. The seismograph design is based on the
principle of inertia — the tendency of any mass Radon Emission
to resist a change in a state of rest or of uniform
Emission of radon gas increases just before a
motion in a straight line is greater, the greater
major earthquake takes place. Monitoring of
the mass of the object.
the emission of radon gas can serve as
The first indication that a severe
forewarn to the major destruction.
earthquake has occurred at a distant point is
the sudden beginning of the Primary waves
Animal Behaviour
(P waves). These waves then die down
somewhat for a few minutes; then a second It has been observed that prior to the major
burst of activity sets in with the arrival of earthquake, animals especially burrowing
Secondary waves (S waves) which are animals, behave unusually. The ants, termites

and other burrowing animals shift their hiding Towards the base of the earth’s crust, hot
places. The birds chirp loudly and animals rock maintains its solid state because of the
such as dogs howl and bark very regularly. pressure from rock above it. When pressure is
reduced by a crack in the earth or rock that
Induced Earthquake lies above, the hot rock can change to a liquid
in small chambers known as magma
In a number of cases human activities have set chambers. Zones of weakness, regions of
off earthquake. The pumping of fluids into the lessened pressure or already existing fissures
oil fields to raise the hydrostatic pressure and are perfect paths for the passage of magma.
to increase oil recovery is responsible for Gas pressure in pockets in the earth forces the
setting off minor earthquakes. Human beings magma to move. Sometimes as magma moves,
are responsible for setting off earthquakes by it melts overlying rocks or forces them aside.
building large dams on major rivers. The load
of water from new lakes impounded behind the Volcanic Features
large dams is responsible for triggering
earthquakes. Extrusion of lava takes place from an opening
called volcanic vent. A saucer shaped
DISTRIBUTION OF EARTHQUAKE ZONES depression is created around the vent, which
is known as crater. On occasion, the explosive
Abundance of large earthquakes in a ring eruption of a volcano blows out an enormous
surrounding the Pacific Ocean, known as mass of magma and previously solidified lava
Circum-Pacific Belt is a line of intense volcanic from a considerable depth. Such explosion is
activity as well as seismic activity. The second associated with the collapse or subsidence of
belt of intense seismicity stretches from the central part of the crater. A steep sided
Mediterranean Sea to the Indonesian region, crater is formed by the destruction of the
corresponding to tectonically active boundary crater formed by the gradual construction of
between Eurasian Plate and the African and volcanic matter (Fig. 4.3). This steep-sided
Australian Plates. A third belt of high crater is known as caldera. Besides the lava
seismicity runs down the middle of the Atlantic that flows out from a volcano, rock and
Ocean basin through the Indian Ocean and mineral fragments are also blown out from a
across the southern Pacific Ocean. volcano known as pyroclastic material. The
pyroclastic material range in size from solid
VOLCANO blocks to fine dust. Spindle or spherical
shaped masses are known as volcanic bombs.
The molten material coming out from inside Sometimes fluid or plastic lava falls close to the
the earth through a pipe or vent and vent after being thrown in the air to form
accumulating around the pipe in the form of spatter cone. Smaller particles of lava, ranging
a mound, is called a volcano. All volcanoes from 4 to 25 mm, are called volcanic lapilli
result from magma, molten material below the whereas particles under 4 mm constitute
earth’s surface, which is brought to the volcanic dust or ash. Volcanic ash, when
surface as lava or volcanic fragments. thrown up in air, remains in suspension for a
Volcanoes show considerable variation in size, long period of time. It is either drifted away by
shape and the kind of material ejected. Most wind or falls down with rainfall and is
volcanoes produce lava. Lava is at very high transported by running water to be deposited
temperatures, between 800 0 and 1,200 0 as sedimentary layers called tuff.
celsius and it contains steam and many other
gases. Eruptive Styles
Let us find out how does magma,
originating inside the earth comes to the Magma may cool enough to solidify before it
surface as lava. reaches the surface of the earth, or it may cool

fissures and does not build cones. Deccan

Plateau in India is an example of the fissure lava
eruption that took place about 60-62 million
years ago.

Central Eruption
The central eruptions are much like point
source eruptions, unlike the linear sources of
fissure eruption. The lava or pyroclastic
material erupts from a central vent or pipe and
gives rise to a cone. Viscous lava can barely
flow and produce volcanic domes.

Types of Volcanoes
On the basis of frequency of eruption, there are
three types of volcanoes: active, dormant and
extinct volcanoes. The volcanoes that erupt
frequently as compared to others are called
active volcanoes. The Barren Island of
Andamans in India is an example of active
volcano. The volcanoes that erupt
inter mittently are known as dor mant or
sleeping volcanoes. The volcanoes that have
not erupted for a very long time and have no
record of eruption in historic times are known
as extinct or dead volcanoes. The dormant
volcanoes may get activated suddenly and are
Fig.4.3 : Formation of Caldera by Collapse therefore dangerous. Krakatao in Indonesia
of Volcano erupted in 1883 (the world’s greatest recorded
A. Magma fills the reservoir and stands high up in
volcanic pipe as the final eruption begins; B. Violent Global Pattern of Volcanism
eruption of gas and pumice occurs as the magma from
reservoir drains downwards; and C. Collapse of the cone Chains of volcanoes are always associated
fills the vacated space with a mass of broken blocks. with places where the crust of the earth is
actively changing. The longest chain
surrounds the Pacific Ocean and is called the
after it flows down the side of a volcano. If
‘Ring of Fire’. Another group exists in the area
eruption is violent, lava is hurled high into the
of the Mediterranean and in the Rift Valley in
air, with solid rocks. Volcanoes may remain
eastern Africa. Whole groups and chains of
dormant for thousands of years and then
islands are sometimes formed in the ocean by
suddenly erupt when the pressure has built up
volcanoes that erupt time and again. This is
beneath the ground. Eruption takes place in two
how the Hawaiian and Aleutian Islands were
ways — fissure eruption and central eruption.
created. The effects of volcanic activity are not
all bad. The ejected material that comes from
Fissure Eruption
inside the volcano is unbelievably fertile.
The lava or pyroclastic material emanates from Another important product of volcanic activity
long, narrow fissures or a group of such is geothermal heat, a source of alternate
fissures. The fluid lava flows away from the power.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What is an earthquake?
(ii) What is focus?
(iii) Which of the earthquake waves travels fastest?
(iv) Name the wave that follows the circumference of the earth.
(v) Which two measurements are taken directly from the seismograph?
(vi) How do human activities induce earthquakes?
(vii) What is a volcano?
(viii) How does hot rock at the base of the earth’s crust maintain its solid state?
(ix) Name the two ways in which volcanic eruption takes place.
(x) What is the ‘Ring of Fire’?
(xi) Name the three types of volcanoes.
2. Give one word for the following:
(i) The point on the earth’s surface vertically above the focus.
(ii) The earthquake waves, larger in height than ‘P’ waves but having a slower rate of
(iii) Spindle or spherical shaped masses thrown out from a volcano.
3. Distinguish between :
(i) ‘P’ waves and ‘S’ waves;
(ii) Magma and lava;
(iii) Vent and crater;
(iv) Dormant and extinct volcanoes.
4. Discuss main characteristics of various seismic waves.
5. Describe the two approaches followed for the prediction of the earthquakes.
6. Describe the distribution of earthquake prone regions in the world.
7. What are the probable causes of the volcanic eruptions? Describe the volcanic activity and
the major features associated with them.

Finding out
Collect information about the earthquake prone regions of India and the major earthquakes of
the country during past ten years. Prepare a report supported with a map of India showing the
location of these occurrences and the areas affected by the earthquakes.


lfred Wegener, in 1912, proposed that Pangaea had evolved some 280 million years
all land masses of the world had formed ago, at the end of the Carboniferous Period and
from one super–continent, called by mid-Jurassic, 150 million years ago,
Pangaea (Fig. 5.1). The super -continent, Pangaea had split into a northern continent
called Laurasia, and a southern continent
called Gondwanaland. About 65 million
years ago, i.e. at the end of Cretaceous,
Gondwanaland further broke up to give rise to
several other continents such as South
America, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica
(Fig. 5.2). India broke apart and followed an
independent route moving towards northeast.


There are evidences that suggest the
existence of Pangaea. The ancient mountain
belt, 470 to 350 million years old, were created
by a continuous belt of geological activity.
These mountains are now separated by the
Atlantic Ocean. Some fossils also tell us that
the continents were once joined. For example,
fossils of the plant Glossopteris and the
animals Mesosurus and Lystrosaurus have all
been found on all continents of Gondwanaland
that are now widely separated.

Geological Matching
Significant observation is the occurrence of
gold deposits within river alluvium in the
Ghana coast (Africa) and the absolute absence
of source rocks in that region. However, across
5,000 km wide ocean, there are gold-bearing
veins in Belen Sau in Brazil (South America)
but no gold deposits within alluvium in the
adjacent coastal belt. Placing Africa and South
Fig.5.1 : Wegener’s Map of Continental Drift — America together, the solution emerges with
Fitting of the Continents Bordering the stunning effectiveness. The gold bearing
Atlantic Ocean sediments were transported down the slope in











Fig.5.2 : Formation of Present Day Continents from Pangaea — Five Stages of the Break-Up
Arrows indicate the direction of the movement of the lithospheric plates.

Brazil and deposited in the belt which is today South America, Africa, south India, south
the Ghana coast. Australia and Tasmania. The uniformity in the
nature of sediment indicates that these
Palaeoclimatic Unity continents/countries were together in the
Thick glacial deposits of Permo-Carboniferous geological past and experienced similar
age are exposed at Uruguay and Brazil in climatic conditions. Today, these countries are

situated in various types of climatic zones,

from temperate to tropical and are widely
separated from each other by large oceans.
Similarly, corals thrive in warm waters
between the latitudes 300N and 300S. However,
remnants of some corals found on the continents
away from the region strengthen the view that
these continents were nearer to the equator in
the geological past. The continents have moved
northwards and are experiencing cold and frigid
climatic conditions today.

Polar Wandering
One of the strongest line of evidence that the
continents were formerly united in Pangaea
came from palaeomagnetism. The magneti-cally
susceptible minerals such as magnetite,
haematite, ilmenite, pyrrhotite in lava/magma
and unconsolidated sediments have the
tendency to align themselves parallel to the
magnetic field prevailing at that time. This
property is retained in the rocks as permanent
magnetism. There has been periodic change in
the position of magnetic pole that is recorded
in rocks by way of permanent magnetism.
Unraveling the signatures of such changes in
the geologically old rocks by scientific methods
provides the changing position of poles in
geological time scale. This is known as polar
wandering. The polar wandering clearly
demonstrates that the continents have Fig.5.3 : Stages in Continental Rupture and the
frequently moved and changed directions of Opening-Up of a New Ocean Basin
their motion from time to time. The vertical scale is exaggerated to emphasise
surface features.
SEA FLOOR SPREADING A. The crust is uplifted and stretched apart causing it
to break into blocks that become tilted on faults;
The present distribution of the continents has B. A narrow ocean is formed between the faults;
taken place in the last 65 million years. The and C. The ocean basin widens.
drift of continents still continues. The ridges
down the middle of ocean floors have been
will widen to produce a new ocean millions of
emitting lava actively (Fig. 5.3). These mid-
years in future. The widening South Atlantic
oceanic ridges, are cracks on the floor of ocean
Ocean has separated Africa and South America.
where molten rocks push up to form new
crust. The crust spreads away from the ridge
and the ocean basin widens. This phenomena
is known as Sea Floor Spreading. The Atlantic According to the global plate tectonic theory, the
Ocean is getting wider by several centimetres lithosphere is broken into a number of
a year, the Pacific Ocean is getting smaller, and moderately rigid plates (Fig.5.4). The plates
the Red Sea is part of a crack in the crust that move continuously and have relative direction

Fig.5.4 : The Mid-Oceanic Ridge System and Related Fracture Zones


of motion. Based on the relative motion of plates, volcanoes are formed over a hot spot but then
three kinds of plate boundaries or marginal move away from the magma source and become
zones are recognised — (i) zones or margins of extinct. These extinct volcanoes form a chain
divergence or spreading; (ii) zones or margins of that is record of the plate motion.
convergence; and (iii) fracture zones or
transform faults. Plate Boundaries
Zones of divergence are boundaries along
Plate boundaries are the most significant
which plates separate and in this process of
structural features of the earth. To understand
separation molten material upwells. This is
plate tectonics, it is necessary to learn the
commonly observed along linear ocean ridges
geography of plate boundaries.
where new lithosphere is created in the form
Plate boundaries are not dif ficult to
of new ocean floors. Active volcanism and
shallow focus earthquakes mark such identify; they are marked by major topo-
boundaries. graphic features.
Zones of convergence are boundaries along As given in Fig. 5.5 the outer rigid layer of
which the edge of one plate overrides the other. the earth — the lithosphere — is divided into
The overridden plate slips down into the a mosaic of seven major plates and a number
mantle and is absorbed. This process is known of smaller sub-plates. The major plates are
as subduction. Besides volcanism and shallow outlined by young mountain systems, oceanic
to deep focus earthquakes, these boundaries ridges and trenches. These include:
also produce deep trenches/ basins and • Pacific Plate;
folded mountain chains. • Eurasian Plate;
There is neither creation nor destruction • Indo-Australian Plate;
along the transfor m fault (Fig. 5.5). The • African Plate;
lithospheric plates slide past each other. • North American Plate;
• South American Plate;
Causes of Plate Movement • Antarctic Plate.
The largest among them is the Pacific Plate
Arthur Holmes, in 1928, proposed that sub-
which is composed of oceanic crust almost
crustal convection currents invoke the
entirely and covers about 20 per cent of the
mechanism of thermal convection that acts as
earth’s surface. The other plates have both
driving force for the movement of plates. Hot
continental and oceanic crust. No plate consists
current rise, then cool as they reach the
surface. At the same time, cooler currents sink of only continental crust. Plates range in
down. This convectional movement moves the thickness from about 70 km beneath oceanic
crustal plates. Owing to current movements, areas to 150 km beneath continents.
the rigid plates of the lithosphere, which ‘float’ Plates are not permanent features. They
on more mobile asthenopshere, are in change in size and shape and the ones which
constant motion. There are no direct evidences do not contain continental crust can become
to prove the existence of such mechanism victims of subduction. A plate can split or weld
below the crust. However, small centres of past with another adjoining plate.
volcanic activity and often located far from any Each tectonic plate is rigid and moves as
active plate boundary suggest the effect of a single unit. Nearly all major tectonic activity
convection currents on the lithosphere. These occurs along the plate boundaries and that is
centres of volcanic activity are called the hot why geologists and geographers focus their
spot. W. Jason Morgan proposed the attention on the plate boundaries.
hypothesis of hot spot in 1971. According to
him, the source of magma in the mantle Indian Plate
remains fixed in position while the lithospheric Indian Ocean floor presents striking
plate above it moves steadily. In this way, topography, consisting of a number of elevated





American Indo-
Plate Australian

Plate boundaries
Divergent boundary Transform fault Convergent boundary

Fig.5.5 : Lithospheric Plates of the World

Note the movement of the Indian plate marked by arrows with respect to other plates.

ridges and plateaus. Two of the ocean ridges, been along the Indus and Brahmaputra
namely the Ninety-east ridge and the Mascarene rivers.
Plateau, Chagos-Maldweep-Lakshadweep
island ridge are said to be volcanic tracts of two
hot spots. The northward extension of Ninety- Geological Facts
east ridge ended in the trench which consumed
the sea floor to the north of the Indian continental • Australia has nearly turned completely
mass. The Chagos-Lakshadweep ridge linked round from its original position and is now
the ancient Carlsberg ridge with southeast moving northward. In 50 million years
Indian ridge during Eocene period (50 million time it will be touching the landmass of
years ago). The mid Indian Ocean ridge has been Eurasia.
spreading faster, estimated at a speed of about • About every 40,000-500,000 years, the
earth’s magnetic poles reverse.
14-20 cm/year.
• It has taken about 200 million years to
Consequent to the Carlsberg-southeast separate South America from Africa and
Indian Ocean Ridge, the collision between create the Atlantic Ocean, and about
Indian Plate and Eurasia Plate took place 40 million years for Australia and the
north of the Indian Plate giving rise to the Antarctic to move apart to their present
Himalaya. The suture between Indian and position.
Eurasian Plates in the Himalaya region has


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What is a Pangaea?
(ii) Who first propounded the theory of continental drift?
(iii) What is meant by sea floor spreading?
(iv) How do lithospheric plates behave along the transform fault?
(v) What acts as the driving force for the movement of plates?
(vi) Name the major plates of the earth.
(vii) Which plate is composed of mainly oceanic crust?
(viii) How did the Himalaya rise?
2. Give one term for the following:
(i) Name of the southern continent, which broke from Pangaea.
(ii) Centres of volcanic activity.
(iii) Periodical change in the position of magnetic pole.
(iv) The process in which one plate overrides the other and the overriden plate slips down
into the mantle and is absorbed.
3. Discuss the evidences that support the continental drift.
4. Explain the plate tectonic theory and its mechanism.
5. Describe the main features of the Indian plate.

Finding Out
Collect more information about the continental drift especially the movement of the Indian plate.


he earth’s solid layer, called lithosphere, crystals and slow cooling in large crystals.
is about 100 km in thickness. The word Extremely sudden cooling will result in the
‘lithosphere’ literally means ‘a sphere of formation of a natural glass which is non-
rocks’. Down to a depth of 16 km from the crystalline. Large bodies of magma, trapped
earth’s surface, 95 per cent of the earth beneath the surface, cool very slowly because
materials consist of rocks. The rocks are made the surrounding rock conduct the heat slowly.
of individual solid substances called minerals. Rapid cooling occurs in lava that loses heat
Each mineral usually contains two or more rapidly to the atmosphere or to the overlying
elements, of which the whole earth is made of. ocean water.
The crystals large enough to be seen with
ROCKS naked eyes or with the help of a hand lens are
called phaneritic textured crystals whereas
Petrologists (scientists who study rocks) define
those too small to be distinguished without the
a rock as any natural mass of mineral matter
aid of a microscope are called aphanitic textured
that makes up the earth’s crust. All rocks are
crystals of the igneous rocks. Where crystals
not hard. Clay, for example, is a type of rock
in the rock are all within the same size range,
that is soft. Chalk is still softer.
the texture is described as equigranular.
Where a few large crystals, called as
Rock Types
phenocrysts, are embedded in a martix or
There are three main groups of rocks: Igneous; groundmass of smaller crystals, the texture is
Sedimentary; and Metamorphic Rocks. porphyritic.

Igneous Rocks Sedimentary Rocks

These are formed from lava hurled out of a These are made from sediments formed by the
volcano or from the cooling of hot magma erosion and weathering of other rock types.
below the crust. Granite is coarse-grained Wind, water and snow erode rocks and carry
igneous rock that is formed by the slow cooling the sediments to low lying areas. When
of magma. Basalt is fine-grained igneous rock, deposited in the sea they are compressed and
almost black, that is formed by quick cooling hardened to form layers of rocks. Sediment is
of lava. Igneous rocks are classified on the fragmented mineral and organic matter
basis of chemical composition and texture. derived directly or indirectly from pre-existing
Chemical differentiation of magma gives rise rocks and from life processes, transported
to mafic and felsic types of igneous rocks. and deposited by air, water or snow/ice.
Texture relates to the sizes and patterns of the Sandstone is made from grains of sand,
mineral crystals present in the rock. The size which have been naturally cemented
of mineral crystals in an igneous rock depends together. Chalk is made up of millions of tiny
largely upon the rate of cooling of magma. As calcium carbonate (lime) skeletons of
a general rule, rapid cooling results in small microorganisms.

Throughout the geologic past, layers of The heat and/or pressure alter the
sediment have accumulated to great thickness characteristics of the original rock by forming
in certain favourable areas on the continents new minerals. Clay when subjected to heat and/
and on the ocean floor. As new layers are or pressure gets metamorphosed to slate.
added, the underlying layers experience Similarly, limestones give rise to marble.
progressively deeper burial. Under increasing The metamorphic rocks can be broadly
pressures imposed by the overlying load,
grouped into two major classes: cataclastic
water is excluded from the sediment. They
rocks and recrystallised rocks. Cataclastic
become denser and strongly coherent.
Ultimately, hard rock layers are produced, a rocks are formed by mechanical disruption
process ter med lithification. In some (breaking and crushing) of the original
instances, chemical changes also occur in the minerals without appreciable chemical
sediments following deposition. All processes change. The process is described as dynamic
of physical and chemical change affecting metamorphism. The recrystallised rocks are
sediments during its conversion into solid rock formed by the recrystallisation of the original
are called diagenesis. minerals. Minerals with different chemical
The first level of classification of sedi- formulae and crystal lattices are produced due
mentary rocks is into clastic and non-clastic to recrystallisation. The recrystallised rocks
divisions. The adjective “clastic” comes from are further divided into two subclasses:
the Greek word “klastos”, meaning “broken” contact and regional metamorphic rocks. The
and describes clastic sediments consisting of contact metamorphic rocks are formed by
particles removed individually from a parent
recrystallisation under high temperature
rock source. The naming of clastic rocks
caused by the intruding magma. The rocks
depends in part on the size of component
mineral grains. A system of grading of mineral are not subjected to bending and breaking but
grains has been established by geologists, new mineral/s, emanating from magma are
which is known as Wentworth Scale. added to metamorphosed rocks. The regional
The non-clastic sedimentary rocks are metamorphic rocks undergo recrystallisation
made of sediments of two basic types, during the process of being deformed by
chemical precipitates and organically derived shearing, often under conditions of high
sediments. Chemical precipitates are solid pressure or high temperature or both.
mineral matters precipitated from an aqueous As metamorphism continues a large
solution in which the component ions have percentage of the minerals assume plate-like
been transported. The rock salt and gypsum shape and are assembled in parallel
are its examples. The organically derived orientation in the rock, a structure known as
sediments consist of remains of plants or
foliation. Strongly developed foliation is known
animals as well as mineral matters produced
as schists. In schists, crystals of certain
by the activities of plants and animals. Coal
and limestone are very good examples of this minerals grow in size. These large crystals are
kind. Important non-clastic sediments are the referred to as porphyroblasts. Another
carbonate minerals, compounds of calcium or structure found in metamorphic rocks is
magnesium ion or both. Sulphate compounds lineation. In this, mineral grains are drawn out
are also minerals of the chemical sediments, into long, thin, pencil-like objects, all in
anhydrite (calcium sulphate) and gypsum parallel alignment. In another for m of
(hydrous calcium sulphate) are important structure, known as banding, minerals of
minerals. different varieties or groups are segregated
into alternate layers. These layers are usually
Metamorphic Rocks of light or dark shades, making the banding
These types of rocks are formed when a rock conspicuous. Gneiss and schist have well
is subjected to heat and/or pressure (Fig. 6.1). marked banded structure.

Fig.6.1 : Rock Cycle

MINERALS Crystal Structure

The mineral is a naturally occurring Mineral crystals fall into six crystal systems
homogeneous solid that is an inorganic (Fig.6.2), each of which is defined in terms of its
substance, having an orderly atomic structure crystallographic axes.
and a definite chemical composition. The basic (i) Isometric System : Three axes of crystal are
source of all minerals is the hot magma in the of equal length and lie at right angle to each
interior of the earth. When magma cools, other, e.g. Halite mineral.
crystals of minerals appear. These first (ii) Tetragonal System : Three axes make right
crystals may sink in the magma so that the angles with each other. The two horizontal
composition of the magma changes with axes, a and b, are of equal length but the
depth. Thus, a sequence of minerals is formed third, c axis, is of different length, e.g
in the rocks as the magma cools. Besides, Zircon mineral.
certain minerals such as coal, petroleum and (iii) Hexagonal System : Four axes are present.
natural gas are organic substances found in Three of the axes are horizontal and of
solid, liquid and gaseous forms respectively. equal length, intersecting in angles of 600
and 1200. The fourth axes is perpendicular
Physical Properties of Minerals to other axes and is of different length, e.g.
Beryl mineral.
Minerals can be identified by their hardness, (iv) Orthorhombic System : Three axes inter-
colour, the way they reflect light (lustre), the sect at right angles to each other, but they
way they break (cleavage and fracture), and are of unequal lengths, e.g. Staurolite
their density. mineral.

(v) Monoclinic System : The three axes are of lacking cleavage break along various types of
unequal length. Two axes intersect at right fracture surfaces. For example, the curved
angles whereas the third axis intersects fracture surfaces of a glass constitute
obliquely forming an acute angle, e.g. conchoidal fracture, that is seen in mineral
Gypsum mineral. quartz.
(vi) Triclinic System : The three axes are of
unequal length and intersect at oblique
Specific Gravity
angles, e.g. Albite mineral.
Each mineral has a certain specific gravity which
Cleavage and Fracture is the ratio of its density to the density of water
The smooth planar surfaces of weakness along at 40 Celsius. Specific gravity of minerals is a
which a mineral has pronounced tendency to property of great importance because it
split is known as cleavage planes. It bears a determines the density of a given rock and rock
close relationship to internal atomic structure density in turn determines the gross layered
and external crystal form of mineral. Minerals structure of the earth.

Fig.6.2 : Mineral Crystals — Various Forms


Hardness resources. The most basic group, essential

resources, comprises soil and water. Energy
The degree to which a mineral surface resists
resources can be divided into the fossil fuels
being scratched is known as its mineral
(crude oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and tar
hardness. Hardness is geologically important
sand) and the nuclear fuels (including
because it determines how easily a mineral is
uranium, thorium and geothermal power).
worn away by the abrasive action of streams, Metal resources range from structural metals
waves, wind and glaciers in the processes of such as iron, aluminum and titanium to
erosion and transportation. Ten standard ornamental and industrial metals such as
minerals constitute the Mohs Scale of gold, platinum and gallium. Industrial
hardness ranging from the softest to the minerals include more than 30 minerals, such
hardest (Appendix II). as salt, asbestos and sand (Appendix III).
Mineral deposits have two geological
Lustre characteristics that make them a real
The appearance of a mineral surface under challenge to modern civilisation. First, almost
reflected light is referred to as its mineral all of them are non-renewable resources. The
lustre. It is described by several descriptive geological processes that form them are much
adjectives, such as metallic (metal like), slower than the rate at which we exploit them.
adamantine (diamond like), vitreous (glass There is no likelihood of our ability to grow
like), resinous (oil like), pearly or silky (pearl mineral deposits at a rate equal to our
or silk like). consumption. Second, mineral deposits have
a place value. We cannot decide where to
Colour extract them; nature made that decision for us
when the deposits were formed.
Certain minerals possess a distinctive mineral
colour that facilitates recognition. The
impurities present in the mineral provides Facts About Minerals
shades of colour to a mineral.
• There are at least 2,000 minerals that
have been named and identified. However,
most rocks are made up of not more than
When a mineral is rubbed across the white 12 different classes of minerals.
porceline plate, known as streak plate, it may • The most common element in the earth’s
leave a streak of mineral powder of distinctive crust is oxygen. The second most
common element is silicon. Mineral
colour. The colour of powder of mineral may
Quartz is silicon dioxide and is very
sometimes be different than the colour of the common mineral.
mineral. • The largest diamond ever found was the
Besides physical properties, minerals are Cullinan diamond, discovered in a mine
also identified on the basis of their optical in South Africa in 1905. It was 3,106
properties. These optical properties are carats, which means it weighed more
evaluated by means of a microscope using than 600 g.
• Diamond and Graphite are both forms of
polarised light rays and are of great value in
carbon but their atoms are arranged
mineral identification. differently. Diamond is the hardest
mineral whereas Graphite is soft, black
Economic Importance of Minerals and feels greasy.
• Under the sea, minerals dissolved in
Mineral resources can be divided into four
water crystallise around the vents of
main groups: essential resources, energy faults or fissures.
resources, metal resources, and industrial


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) Define a rock.
(ii) Name the types of rocks.
(iii) Which are the two main types of igneous rocks?
(iv) What is meant by ‘texture’ of the rocks?
(v) What is lithification?
(vi) Name the scale that grades the size of mineral grains.
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Rocks and minerals;
(ii) Chemical precipitates and organically derived sediments;
(iii) Cataclastic rocks and recrystallised rocks;
(iv) Foliation and lineation.
3. Give a word for the following:
(i) Few large crystals embedded in a matrix of smaller crystals.
(ii) The processes of physical and chemical changes affecting sediments during their
conversion into solid rocks.
(iii) Structure of a metamorphic rock in which mineral grains are drawn out into long, thin
pencil like objects, all in parallel alignment.
(iv) The smooth planar surfaces of weakness along which a mineral has pronounced tendency
to split.
4. Classify the following rocks into igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic:
(i) Granite;
(ii) Slate;
(iii) Marble;
(iv) Limestone;
(v) Clay;
(vi) Basalt;
(vii) Sandstones;
(viii) Coal;
(ix) Chalk;
(x) Gypsum;
(xi) Gneiss; and
(xii) Schist.
5. Write short notes on:
(i) Sedimentary rocks;
(ii) Types of metamorphism;
(iii) Economic importance of minerals.
6. Describe the formation of igneous rocks giving suitable examples of various types.
7. Discuss physical properties of minerals.

Finding Out
Collect rock samples of different kinds and write their main features as seen through naked eyes.


oils are products of a complex mixture Parent Material
of weathered and eroded rock materials
Soils from weakly cemented sandstone will be
on the one hand and organic residues
sandy and soils from shales will be shallow
on the other. Weathering changes consolidated
and fine-textured. Similarly clay formation is
mass (rock) to an unconsolidated (loose)
favoured more by a high percentage of
material. The decomposition of plants and
decomposable dark minerals and less by
microorganisms releases organic chemicals
quartz. The parent material, thus, influences
(humus) that interact with the loose material,
the soil formation by their different rates of
giving rise to various kinds of soils. These
changes involve addition, loss, transformation
and translocation. Additions are made by
water (rainfall, irrigation), nitrogen from Climate
bacterial fixation, energy as sunlight, sediment Acidic soils are formed in humid areas due to
from wind and water, salts and organic intense weathering and leaching. Alkaline
residues. Losses result from chemicals soluble soils are formed in areas of low rainfall due to
in soil water, eroded small-sized fractions, the accumulation or retention of lime. The
nutrients removed in grazed and harvested climate is an increasingly dominant factor
plants, water losses, carbon losses as carbon in forming varied type of soils especially
dioxide and denitrification loss of N 2 . because of the effects of temperature and
Transformations happen because of many precipitation. It also plays an indirect role in
chemical and biological reactions that the formation of soil by way of its influence on
decompose organic matter. Water and vegetation.
organisms move within the soil causing
translocation of substances at dif ferent Biota
depths. Organic soils develop from an
accumulation of plant residues that are The decomposition of organic wastes and
preserved by the low oxygen environment of residues and the activities of living plants and
shallow and stagnant waters. Non-soils are animals have marked influence on the soil
surface material that do not support plant life, development. Burrowing animals, such as
such as the salt flats of Great Salt Lake and moles, prairie dogs, earthworms, ants and
rock barrens. termites help soil development slowly by
decomposing organic matters and forming
SOIL FORMING FACTORS weak acids that dissolve mineral faster. The
roots of living plants and decomposed plant
All soil forming processes involve weathering,
material releases weak organic acids that help
There are, however, several other factors that
in weathering and soil development.
influence the end product of weathering. Five
of them are primary factors. They singly or
jointly are responsible for the development of
various types of soils. These factors are: Steep hillsides have thin soil cover because of

surface runoff that results in the erosion of SOIL HORIZONS

surface. On the other hand, gentle hillsides
Horizons are soil layer that are approximately
preserve appreciable soil cover due to the parallel to the soil’s surface. Each horizon is
luxuriant vegetation and sufficient water different from other. Boundaries between
passing in vertically to deeper levels. The horizons range from indistinct to abrupt and
landlocked depressions receive high amount clear. Horizons are for med because of
of runoff water that favours appreciable differences in the degree of depth, amounts of
vegetation cover but slower decomposition humus accumulated, translocation of colloids
because of oxidation deficiency. This results by water and loss of colloids. Capital letters,
in the formation of soil that is rich in organic A,B,C,E,O and R are used to designate master
matter. The topography influences the soil horizons. Lowercase letters are used as
formation through its relationship with water suffixes to indicate specific characteristics of
and temperature. the master horizon.


Under ideal conditions, a recognisable soil Plant nutrition is the process of absorption
profile may develop in 200 years and under and utilisation of essential elements by plants
less favourable circumstances, it may extend for growth and reproduction. Most plants need
to several thousand years. The rate of soil at least 16 essential elements — carbon,
development is determined by the effects of hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium,
time and other distinct factors – climate, nitrogen, sulphur, calcium, iron, magnesium,
parent material, topography and biota. boron, manganese, copper, zinc, molybdenum
and chlorine. Plants utilise hydrogen, oxygen
Soil Forming Processes and carbon from air and water. Nitrogen,
phosphorus and potassium are absorbed from
Several processes are involved in soil
soil and fertilisers. Chlorine, copper, boron,
formation and may, to some extent, affect the
iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc are
soil profile. These processes are:
micronutrients that are absorbed in lesser
quantity. Nitrogen is most often the limiting
Eluviation element in plant growth. It is utilised by plants
It is the mechanical translocation of clay or as ammonium or nitrate. The fertility of soil
other fine particles down the profile. depends upon the presence of essential
elements as well as the organic matter in
Illuviation sufficient amount.
It is the accumulation of the washed down
(eluviated) material in the lower horizons of the
soil profile. Soil taxonomy or classification of soils, is the
grouping of soils on the basis of their
Cheluviation morphology (texture and structure),
appearance, for m and fertility. The first
It is the downward movement of material,
complete US taxonomic classification was
similar to leaching but under the influence of
published in 1938 and modified in 1949.
organic complex compounds.
Although the US system has application
worldwide, many countries — France,
Leaching Canada, China, India, Brazil and Russia use
It is the removal and downward movement of their own systems. The present US
material from a horizon in solution. classification organises all soils into 11 orders,

54 sub-orders, 238 great groups, 1,922 Black Soil

subgroups and then families and series.
It is popularly known as black cotton soil and
In traditional classification, the major
is developed on basaltic rocks of Deccan
divisions of soil are Zonal, Intrazonal and
Plateau. Cotton being the major crop of the
Azonal. soil, hence, it is called black cotton soil. The
colour of soil ranges from deep black to gray.
Zonal Soils It swells when wetted and shrinks when dried.
These soils reflect climate and vegetation to a Because of this characteristic the soil develops
large degree, hence, their name. They are wide cracks. Black soils are well developed in
formed on well drained sites on non-extreme Maharashtra, western Madhya Pradesh, parts
parent material. Polar desert soils, Podzols, of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and
Brown earths, Prairie soils, Chernozem, Tamil Nadu.
Chestnut soils, Brown and gray semi-arid
soils, Grumusols, Red earths, and Lateritic Red and Yellow Soil
soils fall under zonal category. This soil is relatively sandy and reddish in
colour. Red colour is essentially due to the
Intrazonal Soils presence of iron oxides. It is derived from the
These are well developed soils formed where old crystalline and metamorphic rocks. Wheat,
some local soil forming factor is dominant. millet, cotton, potatoes and coarse grains are
Soils in this category belong to four main widely grown in this soil. Tamil Nadu,
groups, namely saline, hydromorphic, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa have
calcareous and organic. Each group consists large extent of land with red sandy soils. Yellow
of a variety of soil types. and red soils are found in parts of Orissa and
Madhya Pradesh and southern part of the
Azonal Soils Gangetic Plain.

These have poorly developed profiles because Laterite Soil

some factor of soil formation has inhibited soil
formation. Lithosols, alluvial soils and dry The warm climate with seasonal rainfall helps
sands fall in this category. remove fast the humus content from the soil.
This makes the soil more acidic and rich in
SOILS OF INDIA aluminium and iron oxide. This soil is known
as laterite. Laterites are not naturally fertile
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research enough for growing food crop. Application of
(ICAR) classified Indian soils into eight groups fertilisers and manures are required to make
— alluvium, black, red and yellow, laterite, arid, it crop worthy. Laterite soil can be cut into
saline, peaty and organic, and forest soils. This blocks that are used as bricks for house
classification is based on genesis, colour, construction. It is well developed in coastal
composition and location. margins and plains of southern peninsula
from West Bengal to southern Maharashtra.
Alluvial Soil
Alluvial soil is the most productive one in India Arid Soil
though, low in nitrogen content. It is fertile Arid soil ranges from red to brown in colour.
enough to support crops for good yield. It is a It is well developed in western Rajasthan. It is
depositional soil transported by streams and generally, sandy and alkaline. High
winds. Its colour varies from light gray to ash temperature and accelerated evaporation
gray. It is found in the Great Indian Plain, river decreases the moisture and humus content in
valleys, coastal plains and deltas. it. Because of the concentration of calcium

downward, its lower layers become Forest Soil

impermeable. Irrigation increases the soil
Forest soils are formed in forested areas where
moisture and makes the soil crop worthy.
sufficient rainfall is available. In this soil too
organic matter is high and pH value is low. It
Saline Soil
is mostly for med in the forest areas of
Because of dry climate and poor drainage mountains.
conditions, this soil acquires more salt. It is
widespread in wester n Gujarat (Rann of
Kuchch), deltas of East Coast and Sunderban Some Facts About Soil
areas of West Bengal. Gypsum diminishes the
salinity of soil and makes it useful for crops. • The branch of science that deals with the
study of soil is called as pedology.
• Based on the study of palaeosols in India,
Peaty and Organic Soils
Pakistan and Nepal, onset of Indian
Area of high rainfall are marked with good Monsoon in Asia has been established at
growth of vegetation. As the organic matter about 8 million years ago.
accumulates and decomposes, it gives rise to • Enrichment of water with nutrients,
primarily phosphorus, causing abundant
humus rich soil. The high content (40-50 per
aquatic plant growth is called
cent) of organic matter gives the name to soil.
The soil is normally black in colour and • A vertical section of the soil through all its
alkaline. It occurs widely in northern part of horizons and extending into the parent
Bihar, Almora area of Uttaranchal, coastal material is called soil profile.
areas of West Bengal, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What are soils?
(ii) How is soil different from a rock?
(iii) What is humus?
(iv) How do organic soils develop?
(v) Name the primary factors responsible for the development of soils.
(vi) What is leaching?
(vii) How many essential elements are required by plants?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Eluviation and illuviation;
(ii) Cheluviation and leaching;
(iii) Intrazonal and azonal soils;
(iv) Arid soil and saline soil.
3. Discuss the factors responsible for soil formation and also the processes involved.
4. What are the bases of classifying soils of India, as used by the ICAR? Describe the distribution
of major soil types in our country.

Finding out
Collect soil samples from different areas. Find out their main characteristics and write a brief

Unit III


he surface of the earth constitutes a the book Theory of the Earth with Proof and
great assemblage of physical features, Illustrations (1785) recognised the cyclical
each having a form, dynamics, and nature of geological changes. He postulated
uniqueness. It is called landform. No landform that ordinary processes, operating over long
is permanent, each is changing — some slowly time intervals could effect great changes. He
while others fast. Landforms vary in size from reasoned from observation that rocks slowly
continents to minor rivulets. decayed and disintegrated under the action of
A host of internal and external forces are water and air. Hutton observed mountains
involved in the creation of landforms. Tectonic being eroded, rivers carrying debris to the sea,
forces crumple rocks and push up continents ocean waves pounding rocks, sands and mud
and mountain ranges. Moving water, air and settling to the bottom and then being buried
ice erode rocks and transport the eroded on the sea floor. Nature behaves in a uniform
debris to depositional sites and thus, change fashion all the time. Charles L yell called it
the appearance of the landscapes with the Principle of Uniformitarianism. Actually what
passage of time. The intensity of these agencies remains uniform are the physical and chemical
varies from one region to another depending laws that govern geological activities.
on climate, vegetation and altitude.
Geomorphology is the genetic study of LANDFORM TYPES
landfor ms. T raditionally, the study was Landforms that result from crustal movements
essentially confined to origin and evolution of are of tectonic type. No sub-aerial relief can
landforms. According to some, the study and occur until tectonic uplift has raised land
interpretation of records left by erosion above sea level or they are constructed by
constitute the major part of the science of depositional (volcanic or sedimentational)
geomorphology. While others view geo- processes.
morphology not merely as a study of Terrestrial land forms can be classified
landforms but also interaction, at the contact into the following hierarchy: first order
surface, between the lithosphere and the land forms, second order land forms, and third
atmosphere. Two great geomorphologists, order land forms.
S.W. Wooldridge and W.M. Davis considered The first order landforms include the
that landforms were the best indicators of the continents and ocean basins that comprise the
earth’s history. largest units of the earth’s relief. In the
The view of the earth’s history proposed by light of Plate Tectonic Theory (discussed in
the catastrophists of the early nineteenth Chapter 5 of this book), the continents are
century was of a succession of abrupt large masses that are rafted and rooted in the
upheavals culminating in a great flood. These mantle. As a consequence of this process new
paroxysms were interpreted as the result of oceans are formed.
Divine intervention. In contrast, C. Lyell and The second order landform includes the
J.Hutton hypothesised slow changes involving tectonic mountain belts, plateaus and plains.
a number of natural processes. J. Hutton in Under the second order relief, the landscapes

are characterised primarily by their tectonic or that has penetrated joint planes and other
structural unity. The second order relief is natural openings in the rock expands when
generally, created by internal or endogenic earth transformed into ice crystals. The pressure of
processes driven by the energy source in the growing mass of such crystals cause joint
form of volcanism and/or tectonic activity from blocks to be heaved up and pried free of the
deep inside the earth. The Himalaya mountains parent mass.
and the Deccan Plateau are examples of the In the dry climates of low and middle latitudes,
second order landforms. an important agent of rock disintegration is salt.
The third order landform includes the The dry climates have long droughts in which
features produced by erosion such as carved evaporation can occur continuously causing
mountains, hills and valleys. Atmospheric water deep in the rock to be drawn surfaceward
weathering and erosion are largely responsible by capillary force. Near the rock surface, this
in giving rise to the landforms by destructional moisture steadily evaporates permitting dissolved
or erosional processes. Complex series of salts to be deposited in openings of the rock.
reactions take place when rocks are exposed to Although minute in size and appearing fragile, the
water and air in the planet’s gravitational field. growing salt crystals are capable of exerting
The third order landforms are shaped by the powerful stresses. Temperature changes are also
external or exogenic earth processes. External a factor in the disintegration of rocks. Daily
processes, driven by solar energy, act through the temperature changes may not cause rock
atmosphere and oceans where air and water disintegration, but repeated expansion and
come in contact with the lithoshpere. contraction assist in breaking up of rocks already
affected by other stresses and by chemical decay.
WEATHERING The action of the roots of growing plant,
exerting pressure upon the confining walls of
The world’s different landscapes have been regolith or rock is yet another kind of mechanical
made mainly by the action of weather on rocks. weathering. This process is especially important
The term rock weathering is used to describe in the breakup of rock already weakened by
chemical decomposition and physical other physical and chemical means.
disintegration of rocks. L ying above the Rocks break in different ways. Rocks
bedrock may be a layer of loose material, the composed of coarse grain fall apart grain by grain.
regolith (rego — blanket, lith — rock). Regolith Some rocks disintegrate like skins of onions,
is a term that can be used broadly to refer to any called exfoliation. Others break along joints as in
layer of relatively loose or soft material lying on block separaton or along new surfaces producing
the bedrock. When regolith is formed by angular pieces as in shattering (Fig. 8.1).
decomposition and disintegration of the
bedrock that lies directly beneath it, it is called Chemical Weathering
residual regolith. The regolith transported by
streams, ice, wind and deposited elsewhere is Chemical weathering consists of several chemical
called transported regolith. reactions, which may occur more or less
Weathering takes place in three ways: by simultaneously. Oxidation is one of the most
physical or mechanical action, by chemical typical exothermic, volume increasing reactions.
action and by biochemical or biological action. Especially common is the reaction of iron bearing
minerals with oxygen dissolved in water. Other
typical weathering reaction is carbonation. It is
Mechanical Weathering
reaction of minerals with dissolved carbon
In middle and high latitude climates and at high dioxide in water. Hydrolysis, yet another
altitudes alternate freezing and melting of water chemical reaction, is the decompo-sition of
called frost action provides powerful mineral with water. Some minerals get dissolved
mechanism for breaking up of rocks. Water in a chemical reaction called solution.

erosion. Larger plants affect weathering in a

number of ways. Cracks may be widened by root
pressure. The accumulation of elements by plants
and their return to the surface of the soil affect the
nature of the soil and weathering profiles and the
course of weathering. Vegetation litter and
decaying vegetation are important in conserving
moisture which in turn enhances weathering.

The force of gravity acts constantly upon all
soil, regolith and bedrock. In most places the
internal strength of these materials is sufficient
to keep them in place. Wherever the ground
surface is sloping, a proportion of the force of
gravity is directed downslope parallel with the
surface. Every particle has at least some
tendency to roll or slide downhill and will do
so whenever the downslope force exceeds the
resisting forces of friction and cohesion that
tend to bind the particle to the rest of the
The forms of mass wasting range from the
catastrophic slides to the small flows of water
saturated soil. But extremely slow movement
Fig.8.1 : Mechanical Weathering of soil, imperceptible from one year to the
Note four geometrical forms into which rocks may break. next year, also acts on almost every hillside
(Table 8.1).
Careful inspection of hillside often discloses
Biological Weathering evidence that the soil has been very slowly
The breakdown of rocks and minerals is very moving downslope rather steadily over a long
largely controlled by plants, animals and bacteria period of time. This phenomenon is called soil
creep (Fig. 8.2). It is the result of shear
as well. The main contribution of animals to
distributed along countless joint fractures and
weathering seems to be repeated mixing of soil
bedding or cleavage surfaces in the rock.
material, thus bringing fresh material into In hilly and mountainous regions of humid
exposure to weathering agents. Snails are climate, water-saturated soil and regolith rich
common in lime-rich areas and can wear deep in clay minerals take the form of an earthflow.
holes in limestone. Bird droppings may provide Earthflow is a form of mass wasting in which
organic matter for the start of soil formation and behaviour of the earth material is that of a
weathering. Grazing by large animals loosens the plastic solid (Fig. 8.3). Solifluction is an arctic
soil, thus, increasing surface runoff and soil variety of earthflow in the treeless tundra.
Table 8.1 : Types of Mass Movements
Type of Bedrock Type of Material (Soils)
Movement Predominantly Coarse Predominantly Fine
Falls Rock fall Debris fall Earth fall
Topples Rock topple Debris topple Earth topple
Slides Rock slump Debris slump Earth slump
Rock slide Debris slide Earth slide
Flows Rock flow Debris flow Earth flow

where melting winter snow picks up weathered

rocks rich in clay.
Along vertical rock cliff, the process of
physical weathering loosens the rocks. When
the force of gravity brings them down they are
described as rockfalls. The falling rock masses
break into smaller fragments to form a slope
of loose materials called talus. Sliding of a
single block of rock on its lower surface is called
rock slide (Fig.8.4). When a block slips on a
curved fracture plane rotating backward upon
a horizontal axis, it is known as slump (Fig. 8.4).
The processes of erosion, transportation
Fig.8.2 : Soil Creep and deposition are carried out by several
Common place evidence of imperceptible agents, such as running water, glacial ice, sea
down slope creep of soil. waves, and winds.

Mass wasting takes the form of mudflow if RUNNING WATER

proportion of water to mineral matter is large. It
Running water is undoubtedly the most
travels fast down the channels of streams.
Mudflows also originate high in mountains important agent of denudation. It is most
conspicuous as a stream or river that trans-
ports enormous volumes of surplus preci-
pitation from the land to the ocean. Stream
action, in combination with weathering, mass
wasting and overland flow is responsible for
total process called fluvial denudation.
Running water as a geomorphic agent acts
in two basic forms. First is overland flow, the
movement of runoff downhill on the ground
surface in a more or less broadly distributed
sheet or film. Second is channel flow or stream
flow, in which water moves to lower levels in a
long, narrow, troughlike feature called a stream
channel bounded on both sides by rising slopes
called banks that contains the flow.
Stream channels are organised into
Fig.8.3 : Earth Flow
Slump features are well developed in the branching channel networks. Together with the
upper part of a slope. land surface slopes that contribute runoff by
overland flow, the channel network forms a
drainage system or drainage basin which is a
line following a chain of continuous ridge crests.
The line includes all of the surface or watershed
that slopes toward the channels of the system.
Rivers perform three closely interrelated
geomorphic work :
• Erosion;
Fig.8.4 : Landslide • Transportation; and
Two basic forms of landslide — rockslide • Deposition.
and slump may be noted.

River erosion is the progressive removal of a good example of lateral accretion (Fig. 8.5).
mineral matter from the surfaces of stream Sometimes, when a segment of the meandering
channel which itself may consist of bedrock or river channel is abandoned to straighten its
regolith. River transportation is the movement course, the abandoned channel is known as
of eroded particles in chemical solution, in oxbow lake (Fig. 8.6).
turbulent suspension or by rolling and dragging
along the bed. River deposition consists of
accumulation of any transported particles on
the streambed, on the adjoining floodplain or on
the floor of a body of standing water into which
the river empties. While the river performs all
three functions simultaneously, one may
dominate over the other in different parts of the
river courses.

River Erosion
The nature of river erosion depends upon the
materials of which the channel is composed and
the means of erosion available to the river. One
simple means of erosion is hydraulic action, the
pressure and drag of flowing water exerted upon
grains projecting from the bed and banks. Weak
bedrock and various forms of regolith are easily
carved out by hydraulic action alone.
Mechanical wear, termed abrasion, occurs when Fig.8.5 : Formation of Meanders
Meanders develop with a slight change in the
rock particles carried in the current strike
channel of the stream in initial stage.
against the exposed bedrocks of the channel.
Small particles are further reduced by crushing When the velocity of running water as it
and grinding when caught between larger comes out from hills and meets the plain
cobbles and boulders. Chemical reactions decreases, it dumps the transported material at
between ions carried in solution in river water the foot hills forming alluvial fans. By the time
and exposed mineral surfaces result in a form a river enters the sea or a large lake, it loses its
of erosion called solution.
Gentle rain falling on bare surface loosens
the soil and muddies the water. The muddy
water flows as thin, slow moving surface layer
of water called sheet flow. As the slope increases,
the water scours additional sediments and
erodes small channels called rills. Headward
erosion of rills and their subsequent widening
lead to gully formation. Gullies dissect the land
into a number of isolated little hills, giving rise
to badland topography. The valley of the
Chambal in Madhya Pradesh is an example of
badland topography. Fig.8.6 : River-Born Features in a Plain
Note river meander and associated landforms.
Entering the plains, the running water
deposits the transported material laterally velocity. The fine material carried down the
called as lateral accretion. Point bars formed by distance is deposited at this point to form a
meandering rivers on their concave bends are triangular fan called delta.

River Transportation are very resistant the valley becomes very narrow
and the sides steep to form gorges. The Satluj,
It takes three different forms. First, dissolved the Indus and the Brahmaputra have formed
solids such as salts travel downstream deep gorges in the Himalayas. Irregular bed of
indefinitely and reach the ocean. They do not a river caused by occurrence of rocks of varying
affect the mechanical behaviour of the river. resistance leads to the formation of rapids where
Second, particles of clay, silt and sometimes, water jumps up and down while flowing. When
fine sand are carried in suspension. In this form the break in the river courses is great, waterfalls
of transport, the upward currents in eddies of are formed.
flow are capable of holding the particles
indefinitely in the body of the river. Clay River Deposition
particles, once lifted into suspension, are so
readily carried that they travel long distances. The fine clays continue in transportation
As a result, suspension provides a means of almost indefinitely, but the coarser silts settle
separating solid particles of various sizes and down when river velocity drops to moderate
carrying each size category to a different values. In this way clay is carried to the sea,
location, a process known a sorting. Third, where it contacts salt water and undergoes
clotting into larger particles, or flocculation.
rolling or sliding of grains along the stream bed.
Particles of medium to coarse sand and larger
These dragging motions can be conveniently
particles travel as bed load in a river. River
included in the term traction. Fragments
meanders, flood plains, braided channels,
moved in traction are bed load of the river.
oxbows lakes and deltas develop in plains as
The erosion and transportation depends a result of lateral and bed deposits.
upon the energy of a stream. The volume of
water and speed of its movement provide GLACIERS
energy to it. A swift mountain stream by
vertical erosion for ms V-shaped valleys, Glaciers are defined quite broadly as large
gorges, rapids and waterfalls. Where side rocks natural accumulations of land ice affected by

Fig.8.7 : Conditions for Formation of a Glacier

Accumulated ice moves downwards.

motion. Matter, in the form of snow, is received

upon the upper surface in the zone of highest
elevation where the rate of loss of snow by
ablation in summer is, on an average, less than
the rate at which the snow is received. This region
of net gain is called the zone of accumulation (Fig.
8.7). In the lower part of the glacier, loss by
ablation, exceeds the rate at which snow
accumulates and the imbalance is greater as we
follow the glacier to lower, warmer elevations. This
region of net loss is the exit boundary of the
system and is known as the zone of ablation.
Beneath the glacier, ice moves plastically
removing and picking loose materials. This
activity is called glacial plucking. Blocks of rock
being carried within the glacier or ice are
scraped and dragged along the rock floor,
grooving the bedrock and chipping out
fragments of rock in an abrasive process called
grinding. As the ice moves it carries the rocks
along, and grinds them into smaller grains. The
scratches or striations so formed are the relic Fig.8.8 : A Glaciated Topography
of that action. Striations are clues to the The upper sketch shows valleys covered with glaciers.
direction the ice moved. The lower one shows the features formed by a
Ice erodes and transports material from the glacial erosion.
sides of its valley with a special efficiency. Not
slope and decreases with the friction and debris
only does it scrap the sides below the ice level, but at the bottom floor.
the ice acts as a conveyor belt for any debris that Unequal movement leads to splitting of ice and
happens to fall or slide from higher up on the development of cracks on the glacial body which
valley walls onto the surface of the glacier. are called crevasses. U-shaped valleys, cirques
The crushing strength applied to the bed by and sheep-back shaped rocks are common
overriding glacier or ice is exceedingly high. features of the topography which experienced
Large quantity of eroded material accompanies glaciations. Below the snowlines the glacier melts
glacier. Strip of dirt and rock that flow with the and the materials carried by it is deposited.
ice and deposit along the sides of valley is known Eskers, drumlins, out wash plain and many other
lateral moraine (Fig. 8.8). When the lateral features are noticeable in this area (Fig.8.9).
moraines of two glaciers merge, they form a single
medial moraine in the middle. Plucking of
bedrocks by the overriding glacier leads to the
formation of glacial trough, a channel of the valley
glacier. The glacial trough, if filled up by water
gives rise to trough lake. The glacial troughs
formed near the sea get filled in by the sea water
giving rise to fiords. At the head of each trough a
steep headed, semi-circular basin is formed called
cirque. Where three or more cirques intersect, a
highly pyramidal peak may rise above the level,
called horn.
The rate of movement of glaciers varies from Fig.8.9 : Features Formed by Glacial Deposition
an average of 4 centimetres to about 18 metres a Examine various forms with reference
day. Its velocity increases with the steepness of to direction of movement of ice.

Winds are highly variable in direction and force.
The distribution and intensity of winds in
combination with climate has much to do with
the location of wind erosion and windblown
deposits on the earth.
One form of wind erosion is deflation, the
lifting and transporting of loose particles of
clay and silt, collectively referred to as dust.
The particles are suspended in turbulent
eddies in the wind structure. The process is
much like that of suspension of fine sediments
in river flow. The dust is diffused upward into
the atmosphere to heights ranging from a few
metres to several kilometres. The height
depends upon intensity of wind turbulence,
duration of the wind and fineness of the Fig.8.10 : Mushroom Rock
particles. The result may be dense cloud called Observe the shape. What could be the
dust storm. Deflation occurs where clays and reason for its formation?
silts in a thoroughly dried state are exposed on
barren land surfaces. called barchan (Fig. 8.11). Dunes separated by
The sand moves in a layer only a few troughs are called transverse dunes. Dunes
centimetre above the ground at most. The grains
make long leaps downward. The process of
leaping by rebound is termed saltation. In this
way, the wind transfers kinetic energy to the
grain, which on impact with the sand surface
dislodges other grains and may project them
into the air.
Excavation of shallow depressions by wind
erosion is called deflation hollows or blowouts.
Deflation removes the finer materials leaving
behind bigger pebbles. Such residual sheets
of pebble or gravel is called desert pavement. Fig.8.11 : Barchans
Sandblast action is another form of wind Note its formation with reference to wind direction.
erosion. It results from mineral grains of sand
blasting against exposed rock surfaces. We having long, narrow ridges parallel to the
often observe it in desert areas and in the prevailing wind direction are called longitudinal
coastal areas. Notches, honeycombed surfaces dunes.
and mushroom rocks (Fig. 8.10) are some of the
features formed by sandblast actions.
When dust is transported by wind to long The coast, the broad region that is the meeting
distances and deposited in large area, it place of land and sea, can be carved into many
produces a landform called loess. By far the kinds of shapes — steep rocky cliffs, broad low
most prominent landforms of deserts are sand beaches, crescents of small beaches or wide,
dunes. They are created by winds transporting sweeping, sandy tidal flats. The forces that
sand and depositing it to form round hillocks shape coasts are essentially the destructive
of sand. An isolated dune of crescent shape is processes of erosion operating in conjunction

with sea waves that transport and deposit

At the shoreline, the line along which the
water meets the land, the major erosive agent
is wave action. Ocean waves produced by wind
are of two types: progressive, in which the wave
forms move rapidly through the water and
oscillatory, which moves up and down only.
When a train of waves arrives at the coast of a
continent or island, it encounters shallow
water. Wave orbits in shallow water are
modified into ellipses which become
progressively flatter as the bottom is
approached. In this way, not by separate
segments but in a continuous transition along
the wave crest, the line of the wave bends as
it slows, in a process called wave refraction. Fig.8.12 : Erosional Features Produced by Wave
This process is so called because of its
similarity to the bending of light rays in optical
The erosive work of sea depends largely
refraction. Wave refraction produces special
upon the size and strength of waves, seaward
effects on an irregular shoreline with indented
slope, height of the shore between low and
bays and projecting headlands. Erosion by
high tides, the composition of rocks and the
waves is thus, concentrated at headlands and
depth of water. Breaking of waves along the
tends to wear them away more quickly than
shore develops a considerable force on rocks.
along straight sections of shoreline.
Erosion, however, is also affected by the
Along a coast of hard rock, a gently inclined
solvent and chemical actions of sea waves.
rock surface is carved out to accommodate the
swash and backswash. It is called abrasion
platform. A shoreline rising abruptly from the • Mass movements are environmental
abrasion platform is called marine cliff. The hazards in terms of property damage to
stormy waves thrust rock fragments with great highways, railroads and structures of all
violence, against the cliff base to develop wave kinds.
cut notches and sea caves (Fig. 8.12). • Clays that spontaneously change from a
Relatively thick and gently sloping solid condition to a near liquid condition
is called quick clay. A sudden shock or
accumulation of sand, gravel or cobbles in the
disturbance may often cause a layer of
zone of breakers and surf is called beach.
quick clay to begin to liquefy, called
During summer when waves are weaker sand liquefaction, that once begun cannot be
from deeper water is moved to the beach. A stopped.
reverse of situation occurs in winter.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What is geomorphology?
(ii) Name the geomorphologists who considered that landforms were the best indicators of
the earth’s history.

(iii) What is relief?

(iv) Name various types of weathering.
(v) Arrange the following, from smaller to bigger form: stream, gully, river, rill.
(vi) What is a fiord?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Mechanical and chemical weathering;
(ii) Earth flow and mud flow;
(iii) Alluvial fans and deltas;
(iv) V-shaped valley and U-shaped valley.
3. Write short notes on the following:
(i) Moraines;
(ii) Wind erosion;
(iii) Disintegration.
4. Explain various forms of mass wasting.

Project Work
Prepare a list of erosional and depositional features formed by a river and draw sketches to show
each of them.

Unit IV


tmosphere is a gaseous envelope Compounds of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen
extending thousands of kilometres and hydrogen were generated under the
above the earth’s surface. Much of the influence of energy sources such as lightening,
life on the earth exists at the bottom of the solar radiation or radioactive discharges.
atmosphere where it meets the lithosphere Subsequently, the heaviest rains started, but
and the hydrosphere. Very survival of life falling of rain drops evaporated before
processes are associated with it. The influence reaching the earth sur face, which was
of the atmosphere on humans is not only extremely hot at that time. The cyclic process
direct but also indirect through natural of evaporation and precipitation expedited
vegetation, soil and topography. Among the further cooling of the earth. When the earth’s
four major elements of environment, the crust finally cooled sufficiently, torrential rain
atmosphere is the most dynamic as changes lasting for considerable time filled ocean
in it take place not only from one season to basins. The carbon dioxide reacted with the
another but also within a short period of few silicate of the earth’s crust to form carbonate.
hours. Of the total mass of the atmosphere, Therefore, carbon dioxide was gradually
99 per cent is within the height of 32 km from removed from the atmosphere.
the earth’s surface and is held to it by the force The process of life thus, began about
of gravity. The atmosphere is energised by the 3 billion years ago in the form of anaerobic bio-
sun. chemical organism that were dependent upon
ambient organic molecules for nourishment.
ORIGIN OF THE ATMOSPHERE About 2 billion years ago, biological evolution
took another revolutionary step. A few
Today’s atmosphere is the result of very organism succeeded in changing their mode
gradual change starting about 5 billion years of existence from fermentation and bio-
ago by accretion of cold particles chiefly of iron chemical synthesis to more efficient mode of
and magnesium silicate, iron and graphite. photosynthesis and respiration. This set a
Then, the earth was too small to retain the stage for release of oxygen, and fixation of
primordial atmosphere of light gasses. nitrogen. As organisms that could not tolerate
Gravitational collapse and radioactive decay free oxygen were partially replaced by more
caused the earth to heat up and material efficient respiring forms. Carbon dioxide level
differentiated giving central solid nickel-iron in the atmosphere was reduced; ozone formed
core, liquid iron silicate shell, a mantle and a screen against incoming ultraviolet
lithosphere. In this process, degassing took radiation; and organic deposits began to
place, for ming a new atmosphere and accumulate forming coal and oilfields. All this
hydrosphere. This atmosphere was devoid fundamentally changed the previous
of free oxygen but contained methane, geochemistry of the earth. The cycle of majority
ammonia (10-68 per cent), carbon dioxide of chemical elements were reoriented. And
(10-15 per cent) and water vapour (60-70 thus, the composition of the terrestrial
per cent). atmosphere took the present shape.

COMPOSITION thus, allows the lower atmosphere to be warmed

up by heat radiation coming from the sun and
The composition of the atmosphere is shown
from the earth’s surface. Green plants in the
in Table 9.1. Upto an altitude of about 90 km,
process of photosynthesis utilise carbon dioxide
it is uniform in terms of three major gases — from the atmosphere. There has been a
nitrogen, oxygen and argon. There are in pronounced increase (10 times) in the content
addition rare gases like neon, krypton, and of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 1890
xenon, also called noble gases. This layer is to 1970.
generally, called homosphere. Above 90 km, Ozone is found in very small fraction in the
the composition begins to change with stratosphere between 20 and 25 km from the
progressive increase in the lighter gases. This earth’s surface. It is, however, very useful as it
layer is known as heterosphere. absorbs ultra-violet rays and thus, protects life
The oxygen and nitrogen, make up about from these harmful rays.
99 per cent of the clean dry air of the The water vapour and dust particles are
homosphere. In addition, it contains small the important variables of weather and climate.
amount of carbon dioxide, water vapour, They are the sources of all forms of
ozone, inert gases like xenon, krypton, neon condensation and principal absorbers of heat
and argon (which don’t take part in chemical received from the sun or radiated from the
reaction) and huge amount of solid and liquid earth. Besides, they affect the stability of the
particles, collectively called aerosols. atmosphere. Water vapour may not exceed 3
per cent to 4 per cent of total volume of air. The
Table 9.1 : Composition of the Atmosphere amount of water vapour in the atmosphere
decreases from the equator towards the poles.
Component Per Cent by Volume Nearly 90 per cent of it lies upto 6 km of the
Nitrogen (N2) 78.08 atmosphere from the earth’s surface. It is in
this layer of the atmosphere where solid
Oxygen (O2) 20.94
particles of dust, salt, pollens etc. are held in
Argon (Ar) 0.93 suspension. They act as hygroscopic nucleus
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 0.03 with positive charge and entrap the negatively
Neon (Ne) 0.0018 charged water particles to produce clouds. In
Helium (He) 0.0005 the upper layer of the atmosphere microscopic
Ozone (O3) 0.00006 dust particles scatter incoming solar rays and
absorb all colours except blue, giving blue
Hydrogen (H) 0.00005
colour to the sky. The larger size particles on
Methane (CH4) Trace the other hand, are responsible for red and
Krypton (Kr) Trace orange colours at sunrise and sunset.
Xenon (Xe) Trace
Even though nitrogen and oxygen On the basis of the chemical composition, the
comprise 99 per cent of the total volume of the atmosphere is divided into two broad layers: —
atmosphere, they are climatically of little homosphere and heterosphere. The
consequence. Nitrogen does not easily enter homosphere extends upto the height of 90 km.
into chemical union with other substances, It is characterised by uniformity in chemical
but gets fixed into the soil. It serves mainly as composition. It consists of three thermal layers
diluent or dissolver. It regulates combustion. — troposphere, stratosphere and mesosphere.
Oxygen on the other hand combines with all Each sub-layer is separated from the adjoining
the elements and is most combustible. layer by a shallow transitional zone identified by
Carbon dioxide although constitutes a terms ending with “pause” (Table 9.2). The
small percentage, is an important gas in the heterosphere has heterogeneous chemcial
atmospheric process. It can absorb heat and composition with layered structure of

nitrogen, oxygen, helium and hydrogen, temperature decreases with altitude

respectively (Fig. 9.1). because the atmosphere is heated more by
the heat radiated from the earth’s surface.
Homosphere In this layer, the temperature decreases
The lowermost layer of the homosphere is vertically at a rate of 0.65 O C per
called troposphere. It is 16 km thick at the 100 metres. It is called normal lapse rate.
equator and 10 km thick at the poles. The A minimum of –60 O C is reached at the


– – – –

Fig.9.1 : Structure of the Atmosphere


tropopause. Most of the atmospheric Heterosphere

processes responsible for the weather and
Heterosphere is a layered ther mosphere
climate conditions take place in this layer.
extending above the mesopause and continues
Above the tropopause is calm and clear air
to the edge of space. Temperature rises
of the stratosphere. Jet aircraft often fly through
spectacularly in this layer and reaches 9000 C
the lower stratosphere because it provides
at 350 km.
easiest flying conditions. The total absence of
In the lower part of the thermosphere
water vapour in this layer prevents the formation
between 100 to 400 km, ionisation of
of clouds, thus, providing finest visibility. Ozone
atmospheric gases takes place. There is a peak,
layer lies within the stratosphere. It is more
concentration of ionized particles at 250 km.
abundant in the altitude zone of 20 and 22 km.
This layer, known as ionosphere, reflects radio
The ultraviolet radiation is more plentiful
waves. Ionized particles intermittently create a
in the vicinity of 40 to 50 km. Ozone layer
sheet like display of light called Aurora Borealis
shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation. But
in the northern hemisphere and Aurora
for the Ozone layer, life would have been
impossible on the surface of the earth. Australis in the southern hemisphere.
Temperature rises from –600C at the base of the In the upper thermosphere there is further
stratosphere to 00C, at its upper boundary, concentration of ions that comprise Van Allen
called stratopause. Radiation belt. Outer most layer is called
Above the stratopause, is the mesosphere. exosphere or at times magnetosphere. The
The mesosphere extends from 50 to 90 km thermosphere has distinct layers of nitrogen,
altitude. Temperature decreases again with oxygen, helium and hydrogen at an average
height in this layer. It reaches a minimum of – altitude of 200km, 1,100km, 2,600 and
110 0 C at an altitude of 80-90 km in the 9,600km respectively from the earth’s surface.
mesopause. Mesosphere displays high wispy
clouds in high latitudes during summer due WEATHER AND CLIMATE
to reflected sunlight from meteriotic dust Weather is the physical condition or state of the
particles. atmosphere at any given time. As these

Table 9.2 : Structure of the Atmosphere

Broad Layers Name of Sub-Layers Altitude (km)

HOMOSPHERE Troposphere 0-16 (at the equator) 0-10 (at the poles).
Tropopause 10 (at poles) to 16 (at equator)
Stratosphere 10-16 to 50
Stratopause 50
Mesosphere 50-85
Mesopause 85-90

HETEROSPHERE Thermosphere 90+

Ionosphere Nitrogen layer 200
Oxygen layer 1,100
Helium layer 1,700
Hydrogen layer 2,600

Exosphere 9,600

conditions change, so also the weather. Thus, moves from regions of high to low pressure areas.
weather of any place is the sum total of its Horizontal motion of the air is known as wind.
temperature, pressure, winds, moisture and Moisture is present in the atmosphere as
precipitation conditions for a short period of a water vapour, often condensed into clouds. It
day or a week. may be precipitated in the form of rain, hail, sleet
Climate on the other hand is the composite or snow. The capacity of air to gather and retain
weather conditions over a considerable period water vapour is largely dependent on its
of time. It is not just “average weather”. The temperature. Higher the temperature, the
deviations from the averages are equally greater the capacity of air to hold moisture. On
important. ‘It is not the averages, but extremes cooling, the air is not able to retain all the
that kill.’ moisture it gathers while warm. This leads to
If we wish to gain an accurate picture of condensation and precipitation.
weather and climate of any station we should From the above statements it is clear that
look beyond the annual averages and monthly temperature is the basic element on which
averages. We should know the day-to-day other elements of climate depend. Further, the
operation of elements of weather and climate
extremes too.
are closely interrelated and interdependent.
The principal elements of weather and
The climatic elements vary from place to
climate are :
place due to climatic controls. The climatic
• Temperature;
controls are :
• Pressure and wind;
• Latitude or insolation;
• Moisture and precipitation. • Distribution of land and water;
These are called elements because they are • The great semi permanent high and low
the ingredients out of which various weather pressure belts;
and climatic types are compounded. The • Winds;
temperature and precipitation are the main • Altitude;
basic elements to which pressure, winds and • Mountain barriers;
other elements are related. Temperature • Ocean currents;
expresses intensity of heat. Practically, all of • Storms of various kinds, etc.
the heat energy on the earth is the result of These controls acting with various
insolation or the incoming solar radiation. intensities and in different combinations,
Unequal distribution of temperature over the produce changes in temperature and
earth’s sur face causes dif ferences in precipitation, which in turn give rise to a
atmospheric pressure, which causes winds. Air variety of weather and climates.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What holds the atmosphere to the earth?
(ii) What is heterosphere?
(iii) Which are the major constituents of clean dry air of atmosphere?
(iv) Which gas of the atmosphere does not take part in chemical reaction?
(v) What are aerosols ?
(vi) Which gas despite its small percentage is crucial in atmospheric processes?
(vii) Why are the water vapour and dust particles important variables of weather and climate?
(viii) What is meant by normal lapse rate?

2. Give a single term for each of the following:

(i) The zone which separates the troposphere from the stratosphere.
(ii) Lower most layer of the atmosphere.
(iii) A useful gas found in small amount in the atmosphere that shields the earth from
ultraviolet rays.
(iv) Sheet like display of light in the northern hemisphere caused by ionized particles in the
(v) The physical condition or state of the atmosphere at any given time.
3. Write short notes on:
(i) Origin of the atmosphere;
(ii) Homosphere;
(iii) Ionisation of atmospheric gases.
4. Discuss the composition of the atmosphere and the importance of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon
5. Describe the structure of the atmosphere and the main characteristics of each layer.
6. Discuss principal elements of weather and climate and the major climatic controls.


he source of all the energy on the earth visible portion of the spectrum lying between
including its atmosphere is the sun. The infra-red and ultra-violet. The ultra-violet has
energy radiated from the sun dimension of shortest wavelength. It forms
comes from nuclear reactions in its core, where only 6 per cent of insolation and is consumed
the temperature is about 15,000,0000 C. Only in photochemical reaction. While the infra-
½ of the billionth fraction of the energy radiated red rays, though invisible, form 43 per cent of
from the sun is intercepted by the earth. We insolation. They are largely absorbed by water
commonly, call this radiant energy of the sun vapour that is concentrated in the lower
‘heat and light’. It is transmitted in the form of atmosphere.
electromagnetic waves, which are commonly Insolation is greatest at the equator. It
known as short waves. They travel at the speed decreases polewards (Fig. 10.1). The total
of light (about 2,98,000 km per second). They amount of insolation received at the equator is
drive the engine of the earth that operates the roughly about 4 times of that received at the
winds and ocean currents, generates weather poles. In tropical regions, the amount of
conditions and makes the earth a livable place insolation is not only large but there is also
for human beings. little seasonal variation. It is because all places
between Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn
experience overhead sun twice during the
The word insolation connotes incoming solar course of a year. In the temperate region, the
radiation. It is absorbed in the lower layer of amount of insolation is less than the tropical
the atmosphere as bright light. Light is the region and the seasonal variation is high.


Fig.10.1 : Incidence of the Sun’s Rays at the Earth’s Surface

Note how the high angle and low angle solar radiation spreads over the surface.

Effects of Atmosphere on Insolation The general law may be stated as follows.

Land surfaces are rapidly and intensely heated
The energy from the sun passes through different
under the sun’s rays, whereas water surfaces
layers of the atmosphere before it reaches the
are only slowly and moderately heated. On the
ground. Atmospheric gases are essentially
other hand, land surfaces cool off more rapidly
transparent to visible light, but suspended
than water surface when solar radiation is cut
particles of liquid or solid material can absorb
off. Temperature contrasts are, therefore,
or reflect light. A thick cloud may allow less than
more over land areas but only moderate over
10 per cent of sunlight passing through it to
water areas.
reach the earth’s surface. Clouds generally
behave like mirrors; they reflect sunlight in
Heat Budget
different directions rather than absorbing it.
Reflected sunlight is permanently lost to the Insolation is subjected to several processes of
earth. The blue colour of daytime sky is due to absorption, reflection and scattering. They
scattering of sunlight. But for scattering effect, decide the heat budget of the earth and the
the sky would be black starry even when the sun atmosphere. The amount of solar energy
is high up in the sky. passing through the atmosphere depends
upon the angle of the sunrays and
Terrestrial Absorption and Radiation transparency of the atmosphere. It varies
according to time and place. The solar energy
The earth functions like a transformer in
absorbed by the earth gets translated into heat
electric circuit, receiving energy in one state
day after day, year after year. All of our weather
and transmitting it to another. The sun heats
records reveal, certainly in general fashion, a
the earth and the earth heats the atmosphere.
strong continuity of temperature characteris-
Nearly 51 per cent of the solar energy reaches
tics with little to indicate the warming trend
the earth directly or indirectly. The absorbed
that would be mandatory if energy receipt
insolation causes the surface temperature to
exceeded loss, so the counter flow must exist.
rise and in turn land becomes energy radiator.
The gains and losses in heat by incoming and
The sun emits short-wave radiation to space.
outgoing radiation is known as heat budget.
The earth, on the other hand, radiates long-
The term ‘budget’ implies balance in the gains
wave, which is known as terrestrial radiation.
and losses of the solar energy on the earth.
The sun emits the short wave radiation to
Impact of Land and Water
space, while the earth radiates long-wave or
The land and water surface react differently to infra-red radiation to space. The solar energy
the incoming solar radiation. The heat strikes the upper limits of the atmosphere and
capacity or specific heat of water is five times it gradually reaches the earth’s sur face
that of land surface. This means that same directly and indirectly (scattered) and is
amount of heat applied to same mass of water absorbed. It is estimated that out of 100 units
and land result in temperature increase that of incoming solar energy, only 22 units travel
is five times greater for the land than water. If directly to the earth’s surface. This energy flow
heat is withdrawn from land and water, the is called direct radiation. The 35 units received
temperature decrease will be five times greater at the upper limit of the troposphere is reflected
for the land than for water. This arises from the and scattered back into space by clouds (24
fact that water tends to store the heat it units), dust particles (7 units) and by surface of
receives, land quickly retur ns it to the the earth (4 units) in its original short-wave.
atmosphere. Water is essentially transparent, Some of the scattered rays (25 units in all)
it allows some amount of heat to penetrate to eventually, find their way down to the earth’s
a depth of several metres. Land, on the surface and are absorbed by it. They are
contrary, is opaque, so there is great collectively called diffuse radiation. Another 18
concentration of insolation in its upper layer. units of incoming solar radiation is absorbed


Fig.10.2 : Terrestrial Heat Budget

by ozone (3 units), water, dust and other incoming and outgoing radiation is not uniform
components of the atmosphere (13 units) and and varies from latitude to latitude. Yet in spite
by clouds (2 units).
In all, 47 units of solar energy reach the of this imbalance, no latitude appears to be
earth’s surfae as direct or diffuse radiation, getting progressively warmer or colder. In the
while 18 units are absorbed by the atmosphere. low latitudes (between 40 0 North and 40 0
As such 65 units in all (47 units of the earth’s South) heat gained by short wave radiation is
surface +18 units of the atmosphere) take part far more than the heat loss by long waves
in heating the earth and its atmosphere. To
through the earth’s radiation. While in the higher
balance the budget, 65 units are lost to space
in the form of long waves by the earth’s surface latitudes more heat is lost by outgoing long wave
directly (5 units) and reradiated from the earth than it is received in short waves. In view of the
to the atmosphere (60 units). imbalances at high and low latitudes, there is a
large scale transfer of heat from tropics to high
Latitudinal Heat Balance latitudes by atmospheric and oceanic
The mean annual temperature of the earth as a circulation. The transfer of heat takes place in
whole remains same. But balance between middle latitudes between 30o and 50o. In short,

nature provides mechanism of heat transfer continuous ascent of heated air creates vacuum
from tropics towards poles mainly through in lower layer. The cooler air above, being denser
atmospheric circulation (75 per cent) and and heavier, slips down to fill the vacuum,
through oceanic current (25 per cent) to leading to constant heating of warm air on one
maintain the heat balance for the earth as a side and slipping cold air on the other side
whole. (Fig.10.3). Hence, the cyclic movement of air is
associated with the heat transfer from lower layer
Convection and Advection to upper layer.
Horizontal air movement is relatively more
The transfer of heat in the atmosphere takes
important than vertical movement. In middle
place in many ways. Transfer of heat through
latitudes, most of diurnal (day and night)
horizontal movement of the air is called
variation in daily weather are caused by
advection. Vertical mixing of the air or
advection alone. The scorching winds blowing
turbulence is also frequent. It is called
during summer, locally called ‘loo’ in northern
convection. The convective transfer of energy
India, are an outcome of advection process.
is confined only to the troposphere. Air in the
Similarly, in temperate regions the advection
lower layer of the atmosphere gets heated
of warm tropical air in colder months makes
either by the earth’s radiation, called terrestrial
the weather pleasant. Cold polar air carries
radiation or by conduction. When two bodies
cold air towards warm regions of the world.
of unequal temperature are in contact with one
Large scale reversal in temperature of the
another, there is a flow of energy from the
atmosphere near the earth surface is thus
warmer to cooler body. The transfer of heat
brought about by the process of advection.
continues until both the bodies attain the
same temperature or the contact is broken.
Metals are good conductors, air is not. Hence,
conduction is important in heating the lower The temperature is the measurement of
layers of the atmosphere. The heating of air leads available or sensible heat energy in a system.
to expansion. As its density decreases, it It is a measure of hotness or coldness of the
becomes lighter and moves upwards. The body. Such property determines whether heat

Fig.10.3 : Tranfer of Heat — Convective Motions in Liquid and Gases


will flow out or into an object when it comes terrestrial heat than that of upper air. Hence,
in contact with other objects. temperature is higher in the lower part of the
atmosphere than the upper part, where the air
Latitude is cleaner and less dense. That is why higher we
go cooler it is. Udagamandalam, Mount Abu,
The earth revolves round the sun once in a
Panchmarhi are cooler in summer than plains.
year, in an elliptical path called the ‘plane of
ecliptic’. At the same time, the earth rotates
Land and Water
on its own axis in 24 hours. The earth’s axis
is tilted making an angle of 660 30’ with the Land and water surface react differently to
plane. Due to the inclination of the earth’s incoming solar radiation. That is why land,
axis, the angle of the sun’s rays falling on the water and ice get heated and cooled at different
earth’s surface varies from vertical on the rates. Hence, the temperature of air resting
equator to more and more slanting as one over land differs markedly from the one over
moves towards the poles. water on the same latitude. The temperature
When the northern hemisphere is tilted contrast between continents and oceans is
towards the sun, it receives maximum amount greater during winter than summer. Lands
of insolation. On 21June the sun is overhead at heat and cool rapidly because solar radiation
the Tropic of Cancer and it is the longest day of cannot penetrate solid surface to a great
the year for the northern hemisphere. All this depth. As against this, it can penetrate water
time, the southern hemisphere is away from the to a greater depth. There is also considerable
sun and 21 June is the shortest day of the year vertical mixing in water. Moreover, the energy
for the southern hemisphere. On 21 March and required to raise the land’s temperature by
23 September the sun is overhead at the given number of degrees would have to be
equator and the length of the day and night is tripled in order to increase the sur face
same everywhere throughout the world. This temperature of water by equal amount. As a
position of the earth is called equinox. consequence of this heating differential, air
On 22 December the sun is overhead at the above the oceans remain cooler in summer
T ropic of Capricor n and the souther n and warmer in winter than does the air on land
hemisphere receives the maximum daylight. It surface.
is, however, the shortest day for the northern
hemisphere. Thus, areas between the tropics Prevailing Winds
receive the maximum insolation. As one moves Prevailing winds also affect the temperature
away from the equator towards the poles, the conditions of the areas. The moderating effects
intensity of insolation decreases causing fall in of oceans are brought to the adjacent lands
temperature. through on shore winds. On the contrary, off
shore winds take the effects of warm or cold
Altitude currents away from land.
The temperature decreases with increasing
Ocean Currents
altitude from the earth’s sur face. This
vertical decrease in the temperature is at the Ocean currents are large movements of ocean
rate 0.65 o C per 100 metre or 165 m/1 0C. water from places of warm temperature to
These variations are normal throughout the colder temperatures or vice-versa. Their
troposphere and are termed as normal lapse movement affects the temperature of the
rate. The direct source of atmospheric heat lies adjacent areas. The warm currents raise the
at the surface of the earth. The atmosphere temperature of adjoining colder landmasses.
near the surface is denser and contains large The climate of north wester n Europe is
amount of water vapour and dust particles. modified to a large extent by ocean currents of
Being closer to land surface, it absorbs more the North Atlantic Ocean. The cold currents of

the western coast of South Africa or South thereby that the oceans are relatively
America lowers temperature of adjacent warmer.
warmer lands. January-Isotherms
You will notice that in the norther n
hemisphere, it is winter. The 00C isotherm
passes through the North Pacific. It is fairly
The temperature distribution over the earth’s straight through Aleutian striking the west
surface could be analysed from the isothermal coast of North America at Alaska. In the middle
maps of winter and summer. Isotherms are latitude region, the western coasts of
imaginary lines connecting places of equal continents are warmer than their counterparts
temperature reduced to sea level. Isotherms, on the eastern side, because warm ocean
in general, follow the parallels of latitudes currents raise the winter temperature
because it is the cause of temperature condition of the onshore areas. The close
contrast. In general, January and July months spacing of the January isotherms over the
represent the seasonal extremes of continents in the northern hemisphere
temperature (Figs.10.4(a) and 10.4(b)). A indicates steep temperature gradient. It is
comparison of maps, shows that there is a very steep on the eastern sides of North
America and Asia. It indicates that in January
marked latitudinal shifting of isotherms
north eastern Siberia, Greenland, and parts
between January and July, following
of Asia, are the coldest places on the earth.
apparent movement of the sun and the
In the southern hemisphere, it is summer.
latitudinal migration of the thermal belt. It is 300C isotherm passes through north western
noted that where horizontal temperature Argentina, eastern part of Africa, Borneo and
changes are large, isotherms are closely Australia in the southern hemisphere.
spaced. On the contrary, where horizontal
temperature differences are less, isotherms are July-Isotherms
widely spaced. The rate of change of
temperature is called temperature gradient. The July isotherms in the northern hemisphere
are irregular, zigzag and widely spaced. This
We can draw the following inferences from
shows warm season and summer conditions.
isothermal maps:
The 350 C isotherm passes over north Africa,
• The highest temperatures are found in
south west Asia and north western part of India
tropics and sub-tropics. They receive the and south western part of America.
largest amount of insolation throughout the In the southern hemisphere, isotherms
year. On the other hand, lowest bend towards poles on continents and towards
temperatures are recorded in polar regions, equator on oceans. The continents are much
where the amount of solar energy received warmer than oceans. The isotherms in the
is very small. southern hemisphere are more regular, straight
• Isotherms within tropics are widely spaced and closely spaced. This shows wintry
as temperature gradient is very gentle and conditions.
insignificant. The temperature gradient is
very steep in higher latitudes as well as on Inversion of Temperature
the eastern margins of the continents. Normally, temperature decreases with increase
• January isotherms bend sharply on the in elevation. It is called normal lapse rate. At
continents towards the equator indicating times, the situation is reversed and
that winter in the interior of the continent the normal lapse rate is inverted. It is
is more severe in the northern hemisphere. called Inversion of temperature. Inversion
On the other hand, isotherms on the is usually of short duration but quite common
oceans exhibit poleward bend showing nonetheless. A long winter night with clear

Fig.10.4(a) : World — January Isotherms ( Temperature in °C)





Fig.10.4(b) : World — July Isotherms ( Temperature in °C)


skies and still air is ideal situation for inversion. mountains due to air drainage. Cold air at the
The heat of the day is radiated off during the hills and mountains, produced during night,
night, and by early morning hours, the earth is flows under the influence of gravity. Being heavy
cooler than the air above. Over polar areas, and dense, the cold air acts almost like water and
temperature inversion is normal throughout the moves down the slope to pile up deeply in
year. pockets and valley bottoms with warm air above.
Surface inversion promotes stability in the This is called air drainage. It protects plants
lower layers of the atmosphere. Smoke and from frost damages.
dust particles get collected beneath the
inversion layer and spread horizontally to fill • Plank’s law states that hotter a body, the
the lower strata of the atmosphere. Dense fogs more energy it will radiate and shorter
in mor nings are common occurrences the wavelength of that radiation.
especially during winter season. This inversion • Specific heat is the energy needed to raise
commonly lasts for few hours until the sun the temperature of one gram of substance
comes up and begins to warm the earth. by one Celsius.
The inversion takes place in hills and


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What is insolation?
(ii) How much energy radiated by the sun is intercepted by the earth?
(iii) Why do different parallels receive different amount of insolation?
(iv) How does the angle of the sun’s rays falling on the ground affect the amount of insolation?
(v) What are isotherms?
(vi) What is air drainage?
2. Distinguish between :
(i) Insolation and terrestrial radiation;
(ii) Advection and convection;
(iii) Normal lapse rate and inversion of temperature.
3. Write short notes on:
(i) Differential heating of land and water;
(ii) Heat budget;
(iii) Latitudinal heat balance.
4. How is the atmosphere heated? Discuss the role of terrestrial radiation in the process.
5. What are the basic mechanisms of heat transfer? Discuss the importance of these mechanisms
with reference to the atmosphere.
6. Discuss the factors controlling the horizontal distribution of temperature especially with
reference to July and January conditions.

Map Reading
By referring to the map showing world distribution of temperature give reasons why
• Isotherms generally trend east-west.
• Isotherms shift north and south from season to season.
• Isotherms bend while crossing over land to water and vice versa.
• Isotherms are more regular in the southern hemisphere than in the northern hemisphere.


ir pressure and winds are the invisible There are two types of pressure systems;
elements of weather that influence high pressure and low pressure. Temperature
other elements in a significant way. is the most common cause of pressure
They influence temperature and precipitation. differentiation. Air that is cooled at the bottom
Even a minor change in pressure, changes the will sink and increase pressure, whereas
velocity and direction of winds and this in turn warming will cause air to rise and thus, lower
brings about changes in temperature and the pressure. The change in temperature is
precipitation. Air pressure is not readily caused either by solar radiation or, induced by
sensed by human body, but wind is. some external dynamic agencies like friction
caused by rubbing or by force produced
Atmospheric pressure is the weight of the
through rotation of the earth. Thus, pressure
column of air on the surface of the earth at sea
change takes place either by thermal or
level. It is about 1 kilogram per cm2.
dynamic processes.
Distribution of atmospheric pressure is not
PRESSURE uniform over the earth’s surface. It varies
Air is a mixture of several gases. Gas molecules vertically as well as horizontally.
are in constant state of collusion and move
about freely. Pressure of air at a given place is Vertical Distribution
defined as a force exerted against surface by Air pressure varies according to temperature
continuous collision of gas molecules. and altitude. In the first few thousand metres
Therefore, it is the consequence of weight of all above the sea level, the pressure decreases at
air above it. The amount of pressure exerted the rate of 1millibar for every 10 metres. It
by air at a particular point is determined by drops to half its surface value (from 1,013.2mb
temperature and density. It follows that a to 540.4mb) at about 5 km. The rate of fall of
change in either temperature or density will pressure with height is determined partly by
cause corresponding change in pressure. the rate of fall in temperature.
The air pressure is measured as a force per
unit area. The units used by meteorologist for Horizontal Distribution of
this purpose are called millibars (mb). One Pressure — Global Pattern
millibar is equal to the force of one thousand The horizontal distribution of pressure across
dynes on a cm 2. The instrument used for the latitudes in general, presents an alternate
measuring air pressure is called a barometer. belt of low and high pressure areas (Fig. 11.1).
The normal pressure at sea level is 1,013.25 You will notice that there is a inverse relationship
mb (about 76 cm). between pressure and temperature. The
The distribution of atmospheric pressure equatorial region having high temperature has
is shown on a map by isobars. An isobar is an low pressure. While the polar regions with low
imaginary line drawn through places having temperature have high pressure. These
equal atmospheric pressure at sea level. The pressure belts are thermally induced.
spacing of isobars expresses the rate and Logically, there should have been a gradual
direction of the pressure changes and is increase in pressure from the equator towards
referred to as pressure gradients. the poles. This is, however, not so.

gradient force and rotation of the earth. The

pressure gradient is defined as the decrease in
pressure per unit distance in the direction in
which the pressure decreases most rapidly.
The warm air of the equatorial low pressure
belt gradually gets cool in its ascent. Upon
reaching upper layers, it starts moving
towards the pole. It further cools and begins
to subside in a zone between 20 and 35
degrees latitudes. Two factors are responsible
for the general, subsidence of air in this belt.
First, cooling of the air results in increased
density, which accounts for its subsidence.
Second, owing to the rotation of the earth from
west to east, poleward directed winds are
deflected eastwards.
On the rotating earth, a point on the equator
moves fastest. As we go towards the poles, the
speed decreases, reaching almost zero at the
poles. It is because of this difference in speed
Fig.11.1 : Pressure Belts of the World
that any moving body such as winds and ocean
There are two intermediate zones of sub- currents get deflected when they move towards
tropical highs in the vicinity of 300 N and S and the equator or away from the equator (Fig. 11.2).
two sub-polar lows in the vicinity of 600 N and The force of deflection was first discovered by
S. Formation of these pressure belts may be Coriolis, a French mathematician, and hence,
explained by dynamic controls: pressure called Coriolis force. It was later elaborated by

Fig.11.2 : Impact of the Rotating Earth on Pressure Distribution


Ferrel and is known as Ferrel’s law. It states that • Subtropical high pressure belt (northern
all moving bodies like wind and ocean currents hemisphere);
get deflected from their normal paths towards • Subtropical high pressure belt (southern
right in the northern hemisphere and towards left hemisphere);
in the southern hemisphere. The rate of deflection • Subpolar low pressure belt (northern
increases with the distance from the equator. As hemisphere);
a result, by the time the poleward-directed winds • Subpolar low pressure belt (southern
reach 25 degrees latitude, they are deflected into hemisphere);
• Polar high (northern hemisphere); and
a nearly west to east flow. It produces a blocking
• Polar high (southern hemisphere).
effect and the air piles up aloft. This causes a
general subsidence in the areas between the
Equatorial Trough of Low Pressure
tropics and 350 N and S. They develop into high-
pressure belts. The winds coming from the sub- This belt is located on either side of the equator
tropics and polar areas converge and rise in a extending between 0 0 and 10 0 N and S. Its
zone between 450 N and S and the Arctic and the outer margins shift north and south of the
Antarctic circles, respectively. These are the areas Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
of sub-polar lows. This is well explained in (Figs. respectively, due to apparent movement of the
11.2 and 11.3) sun. it is thermally produced low pressure
belt. Here, the pressure is more uniform than
Thus, there are seven pressure belts in all as
that in other parts of the world. Surface winds
shown in Fig.11.1. They are:
are generally absent since winds approaching
• Equatorial trough of low pressure;
this region begin to rise vertically near its
margin. It is, therefore, a region of extremely
calm air and is called the doldrums.

Subtropical High Pressure (Horse Latitude)

The subtropical high pressure is located
between the tropics (25 0 N and S) and 35 0
north and south latitudes. This belt is broken
into a number of high pressure cells. The high
pressure is caused due to the subsidence and
piling of the air. A calm condition with variable
and feeble winds is created in this region.
These regions are often referred to as ‘horse
latitudes’ because in the early days, the sailing
vessels with the cargo of horse found it difficult
to sail under such calm conditions. The sailors
used to throw the horses in the sea to make
the vessels lighter for smooth sailing and
hence, the name.

Subpolar Low Pressure Belt

The subpolar low pressure belt is located
between 450 north and south latitudes and the
Arctic and the Antarctic circles respectively.
These low pressure cells are well developed in
the north Atlantic and north Pacific regions.
The low pressure is caused by converging and
rising air. Due to a great contrast between the
Fig.11.3 : Pressure Belts and Arrangement of Cells temperature of the winds from subtropical and

polar source regions, cyclonic storms are means of isobars. Just as there is a daily range
produced. of temperature on the surface of the earth, so is
there diurnal rhythm of pressure. The direction
Polar Highs and rate of change in pressure is called pressure
gradient. It is at right angles to isobars, just as
At the poles, there are well developed high
the slope of land surface is at right angles to
pressure zones. These zones are the result of
contour lines. The rate of change or steepness
persistent low temperature that makes the air
of gradient is shown by spacing of isobars.
cold and heavy. This gives rise to a cap of
Closely spaced isobars show steep pressure
high pressure in polar region. The prevailing
gradient; and widely spaced isobars show gentle
polar easterly winds blow out of these caps of
high pressure to subpolar low pressure areas.
The zonal distribution of pressure is
modified by continents and oceans. In
Seasonal Distribution of Pressure
summer, the relatively hot continents intensify
Despite a broad, generalised patter n of the low pressure cells and weaken or destroy
pressure distribution on the earth, pressure high pressure cells. In similar manner, the
conditions vary considerably on the basis of corresponding cooler oceans weaken the
prevailing weather conditions in different low pressure cells and intensify the high
parts of the world. The horizontal distribution pressure cells. In winter, the situation is
of pressure on the earth surface is shown by reversed (Fig.11.4).

Fig.11.4 : Horizontal Distribution of Pressure and Winds (July and January)


Change in the pressure distribution is broken into three cells over Pacific, Atlantic
over the earth’s surface could be analysed and Indian oceans.
from isobar maps of winter and summer • The subpolar low pressure cell over
(Fig.11.5 A and B). These distributions reflect Antarctica is weak.
the influence of landmass in the northern
hemisphere and predominant control of ocean July Isobars
surface in the southern hemisphere. The winter Northern Hemisphere (Summer)
chill of northern landmasses enhances high
pressure. The impact of high pressure cells of • The polar high pressure gets weakened
subtropical belt is subdued. In summer, great substantially and it separates Asiatic low.
heating of the interior of northern continents • The subpolar low pressure is also
weakened and only subdued Icelandic low
produces low pressure, which causes
exists. The Aleutian low has disappeared
weakening of subtropical high pressure cells.
and there is continuous low pressure over
The extensive ocean surface of the southern
Asia almost extending to the equator.
hemisphere has fairly uniform pressure
• The subtropical high pressure belt in
throughout the year. But continental areas in
summer is well developed over the oceans.
this hemisphere do experience some variation
The Pacific high, Azore high and Indian high
in pressure during July. Following inferences are well developed in July than in January.
may be drawn from isobaric maps. • The equatorial low pressure lies north of the
equator in July. The centre of low pressure
January Isobars is well developed over the ocean between
Northern Hemisphere (Winter) 10 0 and 15 0 North Latitudes over Asia,
north Africa and southwest United States.
• The polar high is in the form of ridges
extending from northeastern Eurasia to
Southern Hemisphere (Winter)
Yukan area of North America. The isobars
have developed very deep and extensive high • The subtropical high pressure is strongly
pressure cells. developed over oceans than over cold
• Subpolar low pressure belt is represented continents.
by individual oceanic cells developed in • The subpolar low is a continuous belt over
north Atlantic and north Pacific ocean. These 650 to 750 south latitudes.
are known as Aleutian low and Icelandic low • The polar high is weak and extends to
respectively. smaller degree over oceans.
• The subtropical high is well developed over
the cold continents as a continuous belt. The WINDS
high pressure cells are well developed over Air moving parallel to the ground is called
Northeast Asia, Siberia and Canadian wind; while vertical air movements is called
highlands. The highest pressure is centred
current. Air movement is caused by differences
on central Asia where large mountain basins
in air pressure. Wind moves from high
are located. The high pressure cells are fairly
pressure to low pressure region, following
weak over the oceans.
barometric slope or pressure gradient. The
steeper the pressure gradient, the greater is
Southern Hemisphere (Summer)
the velocity of wind. Air flowing down the
• The equatorial low pressure is mainly south pressure gradient follows the law of gravitation
of the equator. It extends over considerable in the same manner as water does flowing
distance over warm continents of the down the hill.
southern hemisphere. The wind once set in, flows from high
• The subtropical high over southern oceans pressure to low pressure. But it follows

Fig.11.5 (A); and (B) : Seasonal Distribution of Pressure (in Millibars)

(A) January; (B) July

somewhat a devious course due to the Coriolis

force. It is deflected to right in the northern
hemisphere and to left in the southern
hemisphere. It was Ferrel, who stated that all
moving bodies like winds and ocean currents
get deflected from their normal path towards
right in the northern hemisphere and towards
left in the southern hemisphere. That is why the
wind takes a curved course.
The wind is known by the direction from
which it blows: a wind blowing from west to east
is westerly and the one blowing from east to
west is called an easterly. The direction of wind
is known by an instrument known as wind
vane. The wind velocity is measured by an
instrument called as anemometer. The speed
of the wind is expressed in kilometres per hour
on the land and per hour on the sea.

Types of Winds
As noted earlier, the general circulation of winds
is governed by pressure systems, which differs
spatially as well as periodically. We have already
learnt about the global pressure belts in summer
and winter seasons. Pressure varies from place
to place in response to local temperature and
wind conditions, and distribution of land and sea.
In fact, it is from a global and permanent pressure
pattern that local and semi permanent pressure
cells are evolved. Fig.11.6 : Generalised System of Primary Winds
Three different air circulation systems (Planetary Winds)
are : primary; secondary; and tertiary. The
primary circulation pattern, prepares the broad winds on an rotating earth’s surface. It ignores
framework for other circulatory patterns. The seasonal heating and land water contrast on
primary winds are also known as planetary the earth’s surface. The primary winds
winds. They include trade winds, westerlies and comprise trade winds, westerlies, and polar
polar winds. The secondary winds include easterlies.
monsoon, cyclones and anticyclones. Tertiary Doldrum is a Zone of calmness in the
winds include local winds. They affect only local vicinity of equator on its both sides. Here winds
weather and climate. are feeble and have least surface movement.
(Fig. 11.6)
Primary Winds or Planetary Winds
These winds constitute large scale motion of Trade Winds
atmosphere under the influence of pressure The trade winds blow between 5 0 and 30 0
gradients, Coriolis effect, and frictional force. latitudes in both the hemispheres. In the
It is related to general circulatory pattern of northern hemisphere the prevailing winds are

northeasterly and are called northeast trades. In January strong Siberian high over
In the southern hemisphere the prevailing interior of Asia produces northeasterly surface
winds are southeasterly and are called winds for most of south Asia. This cold
southeast trades. The two wind belts converge continental air contains very little moisture, so
near the equator, which is called Inter Tropical precipitation during winter is at a minimum. But
Convergence Zone (ITCZ). during summer the Siberian high disappears
and the Inter Tropical Conver -gence Zone
(equatorial low) shifts northward to a position
Westerlies blow in the middle latitudes between over the Tibetan plateau. As a result the air flows
350 and 600 north and south latitudes. The from the southeast, crosses the equator and is
westerlies, unlike trades, are variable in curved into a southwesterly flow. This air passes
direction and are violent in speed. At times over most of the warm tropical Indian Ocean and
specially in winter, they acquire gale force. They therefore, is highly saturated. The arrival of this
can also take the form of mild breeze. In the
southern hemisphere, beyond 40 0 latitude
stormy westerlies are observed both in summer
as well as in winter. Hence, they were given names
by early mariners as ‘roaring forties’, ‘furious
fifties’ and ‘shrieking sixties’.

Polar Easterlies
At poles there are well developed high pressure
zones. The cooling effects of Antarctica and
permanently frozen Arctic sea induce thermal
highs. Air chilled at base sinks and flows
towards the equator, veering rapidly to the
west from east. These are called polar

Secondary or Periodic Winds

The winds that change their direction
periodically with the change in season, are called
secondary or periodic winds. Monsoon, air
masses and fronts, cyclones and anticyclones,
land and sea breezes and mountain and valley
breezes are the wind system that periodically
change their courses diurnally or seasonally.

Monsoon (derived from Arabic word, mausim
for season) is a regional wind that reverses
its direction on seasonal basis (Fig.11.7 (a); and
11.7 (b)). The monsoon over south and south
east Asia is typical. These wind systems override
the expected pattern of primary atmospheric Fig.11.7 (a); and (b) : Monsoon Winds and Upper
circulation. Air Circulation (a) Winter; and (b) Summer

saturated air over the Indian subcontinent Mountain and Valley Breezes
marks the onset of wet summer monsoon. The Diurnal winds similar to land and sea breezes
precipitation is frequently high and heavy occur in mountainous regions. During day time
(Mawsynram 11,873 mm and Cherrapunji the slope of the mountain facing the sun is
11,314 mm rainfall). The southwest monsoon heated more than the valley floor. The hot air
consists of two main branches. One branch rises and the cool air in the valley floor flows up
penetrates the Bay of Bengal and Northeastern the slope. This is known as the valley breeze.
India. It is pushed westward along the Indus- After sunset the pattern is reversed. Rapid loss
Ganga plains. The other branch arrives from the of heat through terrestrial radiation along the
Arabian Sea arm of the Indian Ocean and enters mountain slopes results in sliding of cold dense
the country from western side. The rains from air from higher elevation to valley. This is known
both the branches gradually spread across the as mountain breeze.
sub continent and bring heavy showers over Another group of local winds are known
India. During the winter months monsoon as air drainage winds in which cold dense
causes very little precipitation (2 to 4cm). air in winter flows under the influence of
gravity from higher to lower region, and
Tertiary or Local Winds accumulates over high interior valleys. Snow
winds are locally named as ‘bora’ in northern
Tertiary winds are generated by immediate Adriatic coast and mistral in southern
influence of the surrounding terrain. They are France.
of environmental importance in various ways The other types of local winds are ‘loo’, ‘foehn’
and exert powerful stress on animals and plants and ‘chinook’. They are warm and dry winds.
when winds are dry and extremely hot. The
land and sea breezes, as well as mountain and
valley breezes are also one class of local winds. In the plains of northern India and Pakistan,
These winds respond to local pressure sometimes a very hot and dry wind blows from
gradients set up by heating or cooling of the the west in the months of May and June, usually
lower atmosphere. in the afternoons. It is known as loo. Its
temperature invariably ranges between 450C
Land and Sea Breezes and 500C. It may cause sunstroke to people.

Daily temperature contrasts between land and Foehn and Chinook

water produce small diurnal monsoon called Foehn is a hot wind of local importance in
land and sea breezes. Along the coast there is the Alps. It is a strong, gusty, dry and warm
often drift of cool, heavy air from land to water wind. It develops on the leeward side of a
at night and early morning when land has cooled mountain range. Due to regional pressure
to lower temperature than water. During the gradient, stable air is forced to ascend the
heat of the day, when the land becomes warmer windward side causing precipitation on the
than the adjacent water, the wind direction is mountains. As it descends the leeward side,
reversed and a breeze comes in from the sea. it is warmed and becomes dry. Its
These daily land and sea breezes are shallow temperature varies from 15 0 to 20 0C. A
winds and penetrate only a few kilometres in similar wind moves down the Rockies and is
land or sea. Along tropical coasts and also in known as ‘chinook’. The word ‘chinook’
middle latitudes in summer the cool sea breeze literary means ‘snow eater’. It keeps the
is very important in making coastal location grasslands clear from snow during much of
more pleasant than the interiors. the winter.

Mistral great that orchards and gardens have to be

protected from it by thick hedges of cypress trees.
During winter, areas adjacent to highlands may
Many small houses have their doors and
experience a local cold wind, which originates
windows only on the southeastern side.
over the snowcapped mountains or highlands
and blows down the valley. These winds have been
given local names. The most famous is the
‘mistral’ that blows from the Alps over France The air masses and fronts are migratory
towards the Mediterranean Sea. It is channeled atmospheric disturbances, which generate
through the Rhone Valley. It is a very cold and secondary type of winds all over the world. They
dry wind with high velocity. Even though the skies are associated with stormy weather conditions.
are clear, the ‘mistral’ brings down the As indicated earlier, most precipitation results
temperature below freezing point. Its speed is so from the condensation of moisture contained

Fig.11.8 (a) : Distribution of Tropical and Polar Air Masses and Fronts

in rising and expanding masses of warm and The air masses extend through many
moist air. Storms provide effective mechanisms latitudes and cover thousands of square
for raising large quantities of air aloft. kilometres. The complete horizontal homoge-
neity of air mass is, therefore, rarely achieved.
Air Masses Small differences in the physical properties,
such as temperature and humidity exist from
Air mass is a large body of air with fairly uniform one part to another at the same level.
properties of temperature and humidity. It The air mass derives its characteristics
acquires its properties by remaining stationary mainly from its source region. As it moves
over a given area for long period, enough to away from the source region, it is modified by
come to equilibrium with the surface below. The weather conditions prevailing along the route.
properties of air masses (temperature, As such the classification of air mass is based
humidity, stability and abundance of minor upon the nature of the source region and
components) are determined by nature of subsequent modifications to which it is
underlying surface. subjected.

Typology of Air Masses


cP mP

cPk m Pw

t t t t
cPks cPku mPws mPwu
cPw m Pk

t t t t

cPws cPwu mPks mPku

cT mT

cTk m Tw

t t t t
cTks cTku mTws mTwu
cTw m Tk

t t t t
cTws cTwu mTks mTku

Fig.11.8 (b) : Typology of Air Masses

P-polar m-maritime s-stable
T-tropical k-heated from below u-unstable
c-continental w-cooled from below

There are two basic air masses-Polar (P) and wider than cT because of greater size. Pacific
Tropical (T) (Fig.11.8(a) and (b)) with strong ocean, North and South Atlantic and Indian
differentiation of temperature. They are in turn Ocean are extensive source areas for mT air.
sub-divided into continental (c) and maritime These air masses overlying the tropical seas are
(m) in terms of humidity. A continental air mass moist and saturated universally. They are
is relatively less humid. The conveniently used pushed beyond the source areas and cause
symbols are as follows: heavy precipitation and high temperature
cP — Polar continental condition.
mP — Polar maritime
cT — Tropical continental Fronts
mT — Tropical maritime.
The contact line between air masses of different
The properties of above air masses are
properties is called a front. A cold front develops
modified by transfer of heat from the bases of
where the cold air mass moves under warm air
air mass and the surface over which, it flows.
mass and lifts it up. On the other hand, the
Heating from below expands the air mass thus,
trailing edge of a cold air mass that is followed
leading to rapid cooling. The mechanical
by warm air is called a warm front. In each case
changes in air mass also cause changes in
precipitation is likely to occur, because warm air
physical properties of air masses substantially,
is rising over cold air. The duration and intensity
producing unstability in the system. In all,
of the precipitation along the two fronts are quite
there are sixteen types of air masses (Fig. 11.8
different. The cold front is steep and produces
b). The principal types are as under :
showery, and sometimes violent precipitation
Polar continental (cP) : The air is confined
for a longer period of time. If the cold front moves
in broad high latitudinal stretches of Siberia
faster than the warm front in such a trap, part
and Canada. Typically frozen and dusted with
or all of the pocket of warm air may be lifted from
snow throughout winter season, the air
masses located over this region are chilly, cold, the surface, thus, producing an occluded front.
and slightly modified in summer. After occlusion, the air masses loose earlier
Polar maritime (mP) : These air masses are characters and form new fronts.
located over warmer high latitude oceans of
North Pacific (Bering sea), North Atlantic Cyclones
(Norwegian Sea) and entire sweep of southern Cyclones constitute the most fundamental
hemisphere oceans fringing Antarctica. The air, and climatically the most significant
overlying these unfrozen seas with frequent atmospheric disturbances af fecting the
probing warmer currents, is a highly efficient weather (Fig. 11.9 and 11.10). On the basis of
evaporator of readily available moisture. So mP the areas of their origin, cyclones are classified
air is less cold and more moist than cP air. North broadly into two types: temperate and tropical.
America and Northern Europe experience
these types of air masses during winter season.
Temperate Cyclones
The west coast is normally protected from
invasion by generally, prevailing westerly Temperate Cyclones are concentrated in the
circulations and cascade barrier. middle latitudes between 350 and 650 in both
Tropical continental (cT): This air mass is hemispheres (Fig.11.11). They are generally,
basically hot and dry. Heat may vary a bit in extensive having a vertical thickness ranging
the season but dryness remains immutable. from 9 to 11 km and a diameter of about 1,000
These air masses develop over greater Sahara km. It is just like a spearhead, having the
area. Hot dry winds invade Mediterranean shape of an upturned ‘V’. The approaching
Europe, Norther n Mexico and Souther n temperate cyclones are noticed by the
California in the form of scorching Sirocco. appearance of dark clouds in the background
Tropical maritime (mT): It is considerably of white clouds.

Fig.11.9 : Anticyclones and Cyclones

The most accepted hypothesis for the origin interactions and alternations of two contrasting
of mid latitude cyclone is Polar front theory, types of air masses, one originating in the polar
advanced by Bijerknes, a Norwegian regions and the other in the subtropics. Cold air
meteorologist. According to him the highs and from polar highs moves equatorwards and is
lows of the westerly wind belts result from the deflected westward, forming the northeast

Fig.11.10 : Distribution of Cyclones and Fronts in the Northern Hemisphere



Fig.11.11 : Formation of Temperate Cyclones and Polar Fronts

and southeast polar winds. Warmer air from the Tropical Cyclones
subtropical highs moves poleward and, by
Tropical Cyclones are notorious for their violence
eastward deflection, forms the westerly winds. and for causing wide spread destruction. These
The contact between these contrasting air develop over oceans, particularly in tropical
masses is the polar front. Eddies, or waves, regions. Hence, their major climatic significance
develop along this contact and the front is in causing widespread rainfall. Most of the
becomes highly irregular, consisting of tropical cyclones develop in a belt of 80 to 150 north
interlocking tongues of the two types of air and south latitudes.
masses. Tropical Cyclones are characterised by
As soon as the cyclone approaches, there circular and asymmetrical isobars. They have
is drizzle, followed by heavy rainfall. The very low pressure at the centre, and the pressure
velocity of the wind increases. On the gradient is very steep and winds are very strong;
approach of warm front, the fall in the their velocity ranges between 120-200 km per
pressure stops; and the sky becomes clear. hour. Rainfall is torrential and is evenly
This gives the clue that the centre of the distributed around the centre. Area covered is
cyclone is reached. Immediately after this, relatively small in the range of 150-500 km
temperature begins to fall and the sky diameter. They move from east to west with the
becomes cloudy and rainy again. This trades. They are most prominent in the Pacific
indicates the approach of cold front. Sky is ocean, (eastern coast of China, Taiwan,
clear once again. southern part of Japan). In India,

intensity is felt more in the Bay of Bengal along determining the well being of man and his
the eastern coast. In Africa, they are recorded in society. Much is being studied about them but
Ethiopia and Kenya. In North America, they are still we lack precision in forecast and in assessing
prominent in Texas, coastal parts of Mexico and their intensity. Availability of satellite imageries
Florida and West Indies where they are known in coordinating data and information for
as Hurricanes. In Australia, they occur as Willy- analysis at the regional and global levels has
Willies and in China and Japan as Typhoons. helped in better understanding of the
Cyclones are symbolic of atmospheric mechanism of weather.
dynamism and are of crucial importance in


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) How do air pressure and winds influence the weather?
(ii) What is a millibar?
(iii) What are the two types of pressure systems?
(iv) What is Coriolis force and who discovered it first?
(v) What is pressure gradient?
(vi) Name the seven pressure belts of the earth.
(vii) What are isobars?
(viii) Why does pressure decrease with altitude?
(ix) What are tertiary winds?
(x) What is an air mass?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Wind and air current;
(ii) Planetary and periodic winds;
(iii) Land and sea breezes;
(iv) Mistral and foehn;
(v) Tropical and polar airmasses;
(vi) Temperate and tropical cyclones.
3. Describe the global pattern of the horizontal distribution of pressure.
4. Discuss the seasonal variation in the pressure distribution over the earth’s surface.
5. Describe the major types of winds.
6. ‘The monsoons override the expected pattern of primary wind system’. Explain.
7. Discuss the major types of air masses and how do they influence the area over which they move?
8. Give one term for the following:
(i) A large body of air with uniform properties of temperature and humidity.
(ii) The contact line between air masses of different properties.
(iii) A zone of calmness in the vicinity of equator on both the sides.
(iv) Winds blowing over south and south east Asia that are characterised by the reversal in
wind direction with change in season.
(v) A hot wind of local importance in the Alps.
(vi) A warm and dry wind moving down the Rockies and commonly called ‘snow eater’.
(vii) A very cold and dry wind with high velocity blowing from the Alps towards the
Mediterranean sea.
(viii) An airmass originating over tropical oceans.

Finding Out
Collect information about some other local winds.


ater vapour is one of the most vapour in the atmosphere is highly variable
important atmospheric gases. It is from place to place and from time to time,
odourless and invisible. Human ranging almost upto 5 per cent in any one
body can sense it only in conjunction with air place. It decreases rapidly with altitude.
temperature — so called sensible temperature.
The atmosphere gathers moisture by process EVAPORATION
of evaporation and looses it through
Evaporation is the process whereby liquid
condensation and precipitation. Precipitation
water or ice changes into water vapour. It
and cloud potential of any given airmass,
occurs whenever heat energy is transported to
contains within it latent heat to be released on
a surface containing water and the temperature
condensation. It is an effective absorber of rises. The molecules become more mobile and
radiated heat. overcome the forces binding them to water
Water has a number of unique properties surface and break away resulting in
like high specific heat and the highest surface evaporation.
tension. The specific heat is the amount of The heat removed from the immediate
energy needed to change the temperature of a surrounding is trapped in water vapour as
substance. Water needs large amount of heat to latent heat. In this way evaporation decreases
change it into water vapour. The heat stored in the temperature of remaining liquid by an
the water vapour is called latent heat. Due to amount proportional to latent heat of vapour.
high surface tension, the water molecules are The rate of evaporation is related to the
able to attract adjoining water molecules to form dif ference between saturation vapour
droplets, dew, fog and mist. pressure at surface temperature and the
vapour pressure at the air above.
OF WATER VAPOUR Potential Evapotranspiration
Water exists in three forms or states: solid Evapotranspiration is the amount of moisture
(ice), liquid (water) and gas (water vapour). transferred to the atmosphere by evaporation
All the three states interchange. Ice on melting of liquid and solid water plus transpiration
becomes liquid or sometimes even to water from living tissues principally from plants. The
vapour through the process of sublimation. term ‘potential evapotranspiration’ refers to
The surface of the ocean is the greatest source idealised conditions in which there would be
of atmospheric moisture. Lesser bodies of enough rainfall to provide sufficient moisture
water, vegetation and damp land surfaces also for all possible evapotranspiration in an area.
contribute in significant amounts. Much of In order to deter mine the potential
the water vapour evaporated from the oceans evapotranspiration for any place or area,
is carried by winds to the land where it is several factors like temperature, latitude,
precipitated and delivered back to the oceans vegetation, permeability and water retention
by glaciers and streams. The amount of water capacity of the soil are taken into

consideration. Places having surplus of of holding, and the relative humidity is 100 per
precipitation over evapotranspiration are cent (Fig. 12.1). This is also dew point because
marked by surplus of underground water any further cooling will result in condensation.
storage. The dew point is where condensation begins
The amount of water changing for m as cooling continues. If this point is above
through evaporation varies widely from place freezing point, condensation will be in the form
to place. Since temperature is the major of rain; if below freezing, it will be in the form
control, tropical seas and forests are by far the of snow. Consequently, cooling will result in
greatest contributors. The polar ice caps with continued condensation.
their permanent low temperature and tropical
deserts, despite their high temperatures, Condensation
display a consistent lack of substantial
Condensation is the process of water vapour
precipitation and are largely without evapo-
changing to liquid state. If the air is cooled
ration. The amount of water vapour ranges
below its dew point, some of the air’s water
from almost zero above deserts of world and
vapour becomes liquid. Thus, any amount of
above ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica to
cooling of the saturated air starts the process
2.5 per cent in humid equatorial areas.
of condensation. Whenever, the dew point
temperature falls below the freezing point,
water vapour may convert directly into ice by
Humidity refers to the condition of the air with the process of “crystallisation”. Condensation
regard to water vapour. Absolute humidity may start with the addition of any further
refers to the actual amount of water vapour water vapour to the saturated air, or with the
present per unit volume of air and is usually reduction of its temperature.
expressed in grams per cubic metre. It is Condensation depends upon two factors:
usually, greater near the equator than the relative humidity of air and degree of cooling.
polar region, and greater in summer than in Therefore, in arid lands a larger degree of
winter. Distance from the source of moisture cooling is necessary before the dew point is
exercises important control over the amount reached, while in humid climates a lesser
of water vapour in the air. Absolute humidity degree of cooling will start the process of
is commonly greater over oceans than over the condensation. In the process of evaporation,
interior of continents. heat is transformed into work energy, which
Relative humidity refers to the amount of results in cooling the evaporating surface.
water vapour in the air compared with the Condensation, on the other hand, is the reverse
amount that would be present if the air were process. Here, an equal amount of energy is
saturated at that temperature. It is expressed transformed into heat.
in percentage determined by dividing the There can be no condensation unless there
absolute humidity by water holding capacity is a surface on which the liquid can condense;
of air. If the air is saturated, its relative thus, the significance of dust in the
humidity is 100 per cent; if only half saturated, atmosphere. The abundant supply of
50 per cent. Since the capacity of air for microscopic particles of sea salt, sulphur
absorbing and retaining moisture varies with dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, volcanic dust and
temperature, the relative humidity of air mass fine dust particles are capable of attracting or
can be altered by merely lowering its
absorbing water.
temperature, without changing the actual
amount of moisture present in it. The cooling
Dew and Frost
continues to decrease the moisture holding
ability of the air and the air is eventually filled On cool nights in early winters, when radiation
to capacity. This is saturation; the air is from the ground is relatively rapid, the air in
holding all the water vapour that it is capable contact with the ground may be chilled to the

Fig.12.1 : Relationship Between Moisture Holding Capacity and Relative Humidity


dew point and moisture condenses on the point is reached and some of the moisture
leaves and grass in the form of dews. If the dew condenses into clouds. Other clouds result from
point is at or below the freezing point, the mixing between two air masses of different
condensation takes the form of tiny ice crystals, temperatures (Fig. 12.2). Clouds at and near the
or frost. Dew and frost form on grass quite earth’s surface are known as fog.
readily, because grass is a good radiator and The ten genera of clouds are combined into
therefore, cools quickly. Furthermore, grass three groups based mainly on the average
and other plants give off moisture which is not height of the cloud base. They are as follows:
readily evaporated at night when the air cools. (i) High clouds (5 to14 km);
The formation of dew or frost is impeded by (i) (ii) Middle clouds (2 to 7 km);
dry air, which must be sufficiently cooled to (iii) Low clouds (below 2 km).
reach the dew point; (ii) wind mixes the air and
prevents its lower portion from reaching the High Clouds
dew point; and (iii) clouds, which slow down
• Cirrus (Ci) : These are fibrous clouds with
terrestrial radiation. Low ground moisture and
a delicate, silky appearance. When
also cold air from the uplands flow down the
detached and arranged irregularly in the
slope into valleys, causing the formation of dew
sky, they are harbingers of fair weather. On
and frost on low flat grounds rather than on
the other hand, when they are
systematically arranged, as in bands, or
connected with cirrostratus or altostratus,
Clouds and Fog
they usually foretell wet weather.
Clouds are formed by the condensation of • Cirrostratus (Cs) : A thin, whitish sheet of
water vapour around nuclei of minute dust cloud covering the whole sky and giving it
particles in the air. In most cases, clouds a milky appearance is called cirrostratus.
consist of tiny droplets of water, but they may These clouds commonly produce a halo
also consist of ice particles if the temperature around the sun and the moon. They are
is below freezing point. Most clouds are formed usually signs of the approaching storm.
by the rising war m and moist air. The • Cirrocumulus (Cc) : These clouds appear as
ascending air expands and cools until the dew small white flakes or small globular

Fig.12.2 : Cloud Types and Their Location


masses, usually without shadows. They are shaped top is its characteristic. It is often
usually arranged in groups, lines or ripples accompanied by heavy showers, squalls,
resulting from undulation of the cloud sheet. thunderstorms, and sometimes hail.
Such an arrangement is called mackerel
sky. Clouds of Large Vertical Extent
The high clouds are composed entirely of ice
Middle Clouds
crystals, Clouds for med by vertical
• Altostratus (As) : A uniform sheet of cloud, development have a water droplet composition
gray or bluish in color, and usually having in their lower part, but those with a very large
a fibrous structure belong to this group. It vertical extent have tops that are composed
often merges gradually with cirrostratus. entirely of ice crystals.
The sun and the moon shine wanely
through these clouds. Sometimes it also Precipitation
presents a corona. Altostratus commonly
The word precipitation is derived from a latin
is followed by widespread and relatively
word ‘precipitatio’ meaning a headlong falling
continuous precipitation.
down. In the meterological language it means
• Altocumulus (Ac) : These are flattened
condensed or frozen water vapour that falls on
globular masses of clouds , arranged in
the ground. It not only includes rain or snow
lines or waves. They dif fer from
but also hail, sleet and fog. These forms depend
cirrocumulus as they have larger globules,
upon the following conditions:
often with shadows.
• The temperature at which condensation
Low Clouds takes place.
• The condition encountered as the particles
• Stratocumulus (Sc) : Large globular masses pass through the air.
or rolls of soft gray clouds with brighter
• The type of clouds and their height from the
interstices belong to this group. The
masses are commonly arranged in a
regular pattern. • The process generating phenomena.
• Stratus (St) – These are low uniform layers
of clouds resembling fog , but not resting Forms of Precipitation
on the ground. Thin stratus clouds Precipitation results from the continued
produce a corona. condensation and growth of the moisture
• Nimbostratus (Ns) : They are dense, particles until they become too large to remain
shapeless, and often ragged layers of low suspended in the air. If condensation takes
clouds, which commonly cause conti- place at a temperature above 00 C, the resulting
nuous rainfall. precipitation is in the form of rain. If rain passes
• Cumulus (Cu) : These are thick, dense through a layer of colder air on the way down
clouds with vertical development. The it may freeze and fall as sleet. In a strong
upper sur face is dome shaped with a turbulent currents of thunderstorms, water
cauliflower structure, while the base is drops may be carried upward into freezing
nearly horizontal. Most cumulus clouds temperatures and eventually fall as hail. In fact,
are of fair weather type, although towering violent air currents may keep hailstones
cumulus may develop into cumulonimbus shuttling up and down until they grow to
or thunderheads. enormous sizes. Snow is not frozen rain, but
• Cumulonimbus (Cs) : Heavy masses of forms when moisture crystallises directly from
cloud with great vertical development vapour at a temperature below freezing. If
whose summits rise like mountains or snowflakes grow without interference they form
towers is called cumulonimbus. An anvil beautiful symmetrical, six-sided crystals. Ice

storms result when rain, already near the freezing currents are especially strong and turbulent,
point, falls on the colder ground and vegetation hail is formed.
and freezes upon contact. (ii) Orographic rainfall occurs when moist
wind is forced to rise over a mountain or other
Types of Rainfall elevation in its path. Thus, the windward sides
of many mountain ranges receive heavy
It is now apparent that rainfall is caused by the rainfall, whereas the leeward sides, along which
cooling of relatively warm, moist air. This could the air moves down receives less rainfall
happen in three ways (Fig. 12.3): (Fig.12.4). Such situation occurs widely, along
(i) Convectional rainfall occurs when moist the western coasts of India, North America and
air over the heated ground becomes warmer South America. The moist air from the Arabian
than the surrounding air and is forced to rise, Sea is forced by Sahyadri hills of the Western
expand, cool, and yield some of its moisture Ghats to rise up resulting in expansion, cooling
(Fig.12.3). Convectional rain is common in low and rainfall. The amount of precipitation
latitudes and on summer days in middle depends on slope, height of hill, temperature
latitudes, and usually comes in the form of short and moisture content of the air mass. On the
heavy showers just after the hottest part of the other side of the mountain, the descending
day. Thunder and lightning generally, wind is devoid of moisture and hence, does not
accompany the showers and, if the convection give rain. Hence, this region is dry and is known

Fig.12.3 : Types of Rainfall — Orographic, Frontal and Convection


Fig.12.4 : Orographic Rainfall

Ascending and descending of winds may be noted.

Fig.12.5 : Distribution of Precipitation in the World


as rain shadow. The eastern slopes of Sahyadri temperate zone and the coastal areas of the
falls in rain shadow. monsoon lands, receive heavy precipitation of
(iii) Cyclonic rainfall occurs in low-pressure over 200 centimetres per annum.
areas, where cyclonic winds coming from Areas adjacent to the high precipitation
various directions converge and force the large regime receive moderate rainfall varying from
volumes of light air to rise and cause rain. 100 to 200 centimetres per annum. The coastal
Distribution of Precipitation areas in the warm temperate zone also receive
moderate amount of rainfall.
Different places on the earth’s surface receive The central parts of the tropical land and the
different amounts of precipitation in a year, and eastern and interior parts of the temperate lands
in different seasons. Nevertheless, the main receive inadequate precipitation varying
features can be explained with the help of global between 50 to 100 centimetres per annum
pressure and wind systems, distribution of land (Fig. 12.5).
and water, and the nature of the relief features. Areas lying in the rain shadows, the interior
High latitudes generally, have high pressure of the continents and high latitudes receive low
associated with subsiding and diverging winds, precipitation of less than 50 centimetres per
and hence, inherit dry conditions. On the other annum. The western margins of the continents
hand, the equatorial belt with low pressure and in the tropical lands, and the arid deserts come
its converging winds, and ascending air receives under this category.
ample precipitation. Besides wind pressure Seasonal distribution of rainfall provides an
systems, the inherent nature of the air involved, important aspect to judge the effectiveness of
is also an important factor in determining the precipitation. In some regions, precipitation is
potential for precipitation. Since, cold air has low distributed evenly throughout the year such as
capacity to hold moisture than the warm air, a in the equatorial belt and the western parts of
general decrease in precipitation is revealed with cool temperate regions. On contrary, some of the
the increasing distance of latitude from the regions such as monsoon lands and the
equator towards the poles. Mediterranean regions experience seasonal
In addition to the latitudinal variation in
rainfall. For example, in our country, too much
precipitation, the distribution of land and water
of rain in one season is often followed by long dry
complicates the global precipitation pattern.
season. This leads to the wastage of rain-water
Large land masses in the middle latitudes
in one season and an appalling scarcity in the
generally, experience a decrease in precipitation
towards their interiors. Further, the mountain
barriers alter the ideal precipitation pattern that Even if the precipitation is scanty but
one would expect from the global wind systems. concentrates in a short growing season, as in
Windward mountain slopes receive abundant high latitudes, its maximum utilisation is
precipitation, while leeward slopes and adjacent possible.
low lands fall in rain shadow. Precipitation even in the form of fog, mist or
On the basis of the total amount of annual dew in certain parts has an appreciable effect on
precipitation, major precipitation regimes of vegetation. The dense fog nourishes vegetation
the world are as follows: in the Kalahari Desert, and dew and mist in
The equatorial belt, the windward slopes of winter nourishes wheat crops in parts of Central
the mountains along the western coasts in the cool India.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What is sublimation?
(ii) What is the greatest source of atmospheric moisture?
(iii) Why does the amount of water vapour decrease rapidly with altitude?
(iv) What is meant by humidity?
(v) What is condensation and how does it take place?
(vi) What is the common basis of classifying the clouds into three main groups?
(vii) What is precipitation? What conditions determine the form of precipitation?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Specific heat and latent heat;
(ii) Absolute humidity and relative humidity;
(iii) Evaporation and Evapotranspiration;
(iv) Dew and frost;
(v) Cloud and fog;
(vi) Convectional and cyclonic rainfall.
3. Write short notes on:
(i) Condensation;
(ii) Orographic rainfall;
(iii) High clouds;
(iv) Rain shadow.
4. Describe the factors controlling the rate of evaporation and evapotranspiration.
5. How are clouds formed? Describe the three types of clouds based on their average height.
6. Discuss the salient features of the world distribution of precipitation and controlling factors.


limate is a mean of daily weather There are different schemes of classifying
conditions as expressed by temperature, climates of the world. On the basis of grouping,
precipitation, pressure, winds and climate types are: genetic and empirical. Genetic
humidity taken over a long time. Temperature classification emphasises causes or origin of
is regarded as basic factor of climate as other their formation based on weather processes. The
elements are directly or indirectly related to it. empirical classification, on the other hand, is
On the basis of temperature, the world has been based on observations related to factors for
divided into Torrid, Frigid and Temperate climatic differentiation.
Zones. Rainfall patterns are similarly Koeppen’s classification is strictly
fundamental in establishing climatic regimes. empirical as it is neither based on weather
As such wet, humid, sub-humid, semiarid and process (wind belts, air masses, fronts and
arid are common climatic description. storms) nor does it emphasise causes of
Variation in the amount, intensity, and formation of climatic type. The classification
seasonal distribution of the elements controlling is based upon annual and monthly means of
climate give rise to a great variety of climatic temperature and precipitation. Native
regions on the earth. A climatic region is defined vegetation is considered best expression of the
as an area on the earth’s surface, where an totality of climate. Similarly, Thornwaite
approximately homogeneous set of climatic followed Koeppen’s principle that plant is a
conditions is produced by the combined effect nature’s meteorological instrument capable of
of climatic controls. Different sets of climatic integrating climatic elements like precipitation
conditions are called climatic types. effectiveness and potential evapotranspiration
(evaporation from soil surface plus transpira-
The climate classification system devised
A classification system consists of arbitrary
by Glen T. T rewartha represents a com-
rules, which help, in separating, or segregating promise between purely empirical and genetic
various features and phenomena into easily methods. Besides being simple and
remembered groups. Hence, the objective or explanatory, it combines the fundamentals of
purpose of grouping is the key in designating the empirical as well as genetic classification
a classification and also in the choice of schemes. Trewartha, while proposing his
criteria. climatic classification, was conscious of the
The ancient Greeks broadly divided the fact that the classification systems of Koeppen
earth into winterless tropical region, the and Thornwaite, being based on certain
summer less polar regions and intermediate statistical parametres of a few weather
region having both winter and summer. elements, were cumbersome and complex.
This classification is too simple to be of The empirical quantitative classification
much use, giving only a very generalised systems as devised by these authors produced
picture of temperature taking no account of such a large number of climatic types and sub-
precipitation. types that it was rather too difficult to

remember them. Keeping this aspect in view, latitude in both the hemispheres. The
Trewartha recognised only a limited number of temperature and rainfall are high throughout
climatic types, usually under 15. the year. In the coastal region the average
temperature of the coldest month is above 180
Trewartha’s Classification C. The core of the ‘A’ climatic region is
The aims and objectives of T rewartha’s constituted by wet sub type, the tropical wet
climatic classification were very clear. He climate (Ar). This climate extends
opined that, people such as geographers, approximately 50 to 100 on either side of the
biologists, or agriculturists, who need to equator. Along eastern margins of continents,
understand and use the climatic environment this type of climate is under the influence of
for their own purposes, should have the facts inter-tropical convergence zone and the sub-
of climate presented realistically, and that any tropical jetstream. It is also known as tropical
preconceived genetic structure or scheme of rain forest.
type location should not be forced. At the same Closer inspection of tropical wet climate
time he also recognised the merits of the reveals that it widely extends (150 to 200 N and
genetic type of climatic classification. S) on the eastern margins of continents
According to him, “genesis not only increases because trade winds blow on shore from
interest and adds to the scientific quality of northeast and southeast.
climatic analysis, but also gives an extra- The tropical wet and dry climate (Aw)
dimension of insight to the students’ exhibits winter dry season. It is dominated by
understanding of the description.” dry trade winds. In this region average
Trewartha classified world climates in six precipitation is less than the one in tropical wet
great climatic groups, out of which, five (A, C, climate. This type of climate is called savanna
D, E, F) are based on temperature criteria, and climate because tall grasses that grow between
the sixth (B) is the dry group based on trees and thor ny bushes, dominate the
precipitation (Table 12.1). vegetation cover.
Table 12.1 Simplified Version of Trewartha’s Climatic Classification System

Symbol Climatic Groups Climatic Types

A Tropical humid climate Tropical wet (Ar)

Tropical wet and dry/Savana (Aw)
C Sub-tropical Sub-tropical humid (Cfw)
Sub-tropical dry summer (Cs)
D Temperate Temperate marine (Do)
Temperate continental (Dc)
E Boreal
F Polar Tundra (Ft)
Ice cap (Fi)
B Dry Arid/Desert type (BW)
Semi-arid/steppe (BS)

Climatic Groups Based on Sub-Tropical (C) Climates

Temperature Criteria
Sub-tropical climates are found between
Tropical Humid (A) Climate tropical and temperate climatic zones. In this
The tropical humid (A) climate stretches along type of climate, the temperatures are generally,
the equator, in the irregular belt of 200 to 400 above 180 C for nearly 8 months. Winters are

mild and short. The coastal areas have rainfall Boreal (E) Climates
throughout the year while continental areas
Boreal climate is found in the higher middle
receive less rainfall. On the basis of seasonal
latitudes. In this climate, summers are short
distribution of precipitation, sub-tropical
and cool, winters are long and cold with a very
climates have two sub-types: sub-tropical
short frost-free season. Annual temperature
humid (Cfw) and sub-tropical dry summer
ranges between 0 0 and 10 0 C. Annual
precipitation is meager and most of it occurs
The sub-tropical humid climate is found on
during summers. This type of climate is
the eastern sides of continents. In this type,
noticed in the coniferous forest of the world.
the rainfall is throughout the year. During
summer, it is under the influence of sub-
Polar (F) Climates
tropical anticyclone and in winter under
temperate cyclones. The summer months Polar climates are found in the high latitudes
receive more rainfall than winter. and higher reaches of the Himalayas and the
Sub-tropical dry summer climate is Alps. These climates are confined to the
characterised by moderate to scanty rainfall. norther n hemisphere only. The average
Rainfall occurs in winter while summers are temperature does not exceed 10 0 C in any
dry. This type of climate is found in the interior month. There is no summer season. On the
of ‘C’ climate region along the tropical margin basis of temperature the polar climates are
of mid latitudes. classified into two types: (i) tundra (Ft); and
(ii) ice cap (Fi).
Temperate (D) Climates The tundra climate on land is found only
The micro ther mal (D) climates receive in the northern hemisphere where it occupies
relatively small amount of heat. It is found in the coastal fringes of the Arctic Ocean, the ice-
the vast landmasses of middle latitudes (400 free shores of the northern Iceland, southern
and 650). This climatic band of severe winters Greenland and higher reaches of the
is found between sub-tropical and boreal types Himalayas and the Alps. This climate is
of climate. The two sub types of temperate characterised by extreme cold in which the
climates are temperate marine (Do) and average temperature of the warmest month
temperate continental (Dc). They are primarily does not normally rise above 00 C, but never
demarcated on the bases of summer above 100 C. It is associated with permanent
temperatures. frost formation leading to frozen sub-soil.
Temperate marine climate has mild During the summer, precipitation occurs in
winters and fairly war m summers. the form of snow and rain.
Throughout the year, the average temperature Icecap climate has average temperature
is above 0 o C. The rainfall is experienced below freezing point. It is associated with the
throughout the year. This type of climate is phenomena of permanent ice and snow. The
found on the western sides of continents in winter and summer are windy and chilly and
temperate zone. precipitation is very meagre. This type of
Temperate continental climate is found in climate is confined to icecaps of Greenland and
the interiors of the continents in middle Antarctica.
latitudes. The impact of land is visible as it is
characterised by harsh winters and cool Climatic Group Based on
summers. The extreme cooling of the ground Precipitation Criteria
is associated with anticyclone. Annual
Dry (B) Climates
precipitation is low, though it takes place
throughout the year. This type of climate is The dry climates are found on the poleward
found in northeastern Asia, eastern Canada margins of ‘A’ group climates on the western
and Eurasia. sides of the continents. The most important

feature of a dry climate is the higher rate of south tropical deserts from Morocco to Tunisia
moisture-loss through evaporation and and from Dakar in Senegal to Ethiopia, deserts
evapotranspiration in relation to the annual of Afghanistan, large strip of land adjoining Thar
receipt of water gain from precipitation. This Desert and rain shadow area of peninsular
climate is characterised by dry weather with India.
a high range of temperature –250 to 300 C. The arid and semi arid climates are further
Dry B1 climates are associated with divided into tropical to sub-tropical hot desert
subsiding air of sub-tropical high pressure zone (BWh), temperate-boreal cold desert (BWk),
which, results in intrusion of arid climate into tropical sub-tropical steppes (BSh) and
continents of both north and south temperate-boreal-steppe (BSk). BWh and BWk
hemispheres. The extreme seasonal are constantly dry and are under the influence
temperatures cause large annual range of of sub-tropical high and dry trades. BSh
temperature. The average annual precipitation climate is characterised by short moist season
is meagre (nearly 0 to 50 cm) and is highly both in summer and winter. The BSk type of
variable. climate receives most of the meagre
On the basis of annual average range of precipitation during warmer season.
precipitation, dry climates are sub-divided into
desert (BW) and semiarid (BS) type of climate. GLOBAL CLIMATIC CHANGE
The capital letters ‘S’ and ‘W’ indicate the
Atmosphere is well structured and fairly
degree of aridity in dry (B) climates, with ‘S’
dynamic in nature. The dynamism is more
and ‘W’ designating semi arid and fully arid
complex near the earth’s sur face where
conditions respectively. The boundaries of
changes take place both spatially and
these two sub-climates are set at one half of
temporally. These changes may be induced
the annual rainfall separating dry (arid) from
internally within the earth’s atmospheric
the semi arid type.
system or externally by extra-terrestrial
Desert or arid type of climate has driest
factors. Some of these changes are the
climatic variety in sub-tropical belt between
results of human intervention and hence,
200 and 300 north and south latitudes. This
may be slowed down by human ef forts.
type of climate is found in coastal deserts of
The global warming is one of the changes
Peru and Chile in South America, Kalahari
caused by man’s continual and growing
deserts of coastal Angola, south west Africa,
introduction of carbon dioxide as well as some
Great Australian desert, Sahara and Arabian
other so called green house gases, like
deserts, Thar desert of Pakistan and India and
methane and chlorofluorocarbon into the
deserts of northern Mexico. In these regions
atmosphere. It is a cause of concern for the
stability of air mass leads to extreme dryness
humankind today.
with no rainy days. The influence of cold ocean
currents is also there. These areas receive
Global Warming
lowest annual rainfall in the world despite
their location adjacent to the oceans. This type The atoms and molecules of atmospheric
of climate is associated with xerophytic gases cause absorption and back radiation of
(thorny/spiny) type of vegetation. sun light, by the green house gases (discussed
The semi arid or steppe type of climate in later part of this chapter) especially water,
borders ‘A’ and ‘C’ type of climate and has an carbon dioxide, and methane. The
annual rainfall range of 30 to 60 cm. These concentration of water in the atmosphere is
areas lie in the heart of the grasslands of controlled by evaporation from oceans.
western North America and Eurasia. That is Carbon dioxide is introduced in the
why they are called steppe type of climate. The atmosphere by volcanism. Equivalent amount
lands of this climatic type are away from the of carbon dioxide is removed by precipitation
oceanic influence. It is found in both north and as calcium carbonate in oceans. Methane,

which is twenty times more effective than carbon Man is considered an engine of climatic
dioxide, is produced by metabolisation of change. In support of this, rice farmers, coal
bacteria in wood/grass eating animals. The miners, dairy farmers and shifting agriculturists
methane rapidly gets oxidised into carbon contribute their mite in global warming.
dioxide. According to some estimates, rice cultivation in
Human activities add methane, and the world is responsible for 20 per cent methane
carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning being added to atmosphere, and the coal mining
fossil fuels and by various agricultural accounts for 6 per cent of methane. The
activities. The carbon dioxide contents of deforestation is responsible for 20 per cent of the
atmosphere play a dominant role in causing carbon dioxide gas being added to the
world wide climatic change. The gas is atmosphere. Similarly, industrialisation is
transparent to incoming solar radiation, but adding 25 per cent of chlorofluorocarbon to the
absorbs outgoing long-wave terrestrial aerosol of the atmosphere. Consequently, global
radiation. The absorbed terrestrial radiation is temperature increase is by about 1.5oC.
radiated back to the earth’s surface. Thus, it Today, there is much concer n that
is clear that any appreciable change in carbon continuing addition of carbon dioxide and
dioxide content would bring about changes in methane gases to the atmosphere will increase
the temperature in lower layers of the atmospheric temperature to an extent that it
atmosphere. will cause ice to melt in the Arctic Ocean and
Rapid industrialisation and technological in Antarctica. As a result, sea level will rise
changes, revolution in agriculture and causing drowning of coastal lowlands and
transport sectors has resulted in large islands, altering rainfall and evaporation
supplies of carbon dioxide gas, methane and patterns, creating new plant diseases and pest
chlorofluorocarbon gases to the atmosphere. problems and enlarging the ozone hole.
Some of these gases are consumed by With a view to get a dependable picture of
vegetation and part of it is dissolved in ocean. climatic changes in the past, ice-coring
However, about 50 per cent is left over in the programmes have been undertaken in several
atmosphere. During past 100 years the countries particularly in Antarctica and
concentration of methane has more than Greenland Ice caps to analyse the trapped
doubled (from 7.0 × 10-7 to 15.5 × 10-7) and gases during the last 1,00,000 years. The
carbon dioxide has increased by 20 per cent results have been fascinating and of fer
(from 2.90 × 10-4 to 3.49 × 10-4). In 1880-1890 glimpses of the earth’s recent history going
the carbon dioxide content was about 290 beyond the phenomena of global warming.
parts per million (ppm). It rose to about 315 During last 10,000 years of the earth’s history,
ppm in 1980, 340 ppm in 1990 and 400 ppm climate regime has been exceptionally stable
in 2000. This means that proportion of carbon compared to earlier history. Study of oxygen
dioxide had increased by 9 per cent by 1950 isotope records in Greenland ice core suggests
and nearly 17 per cent by 1990. The rate of that cooling trend in the northern hemisphere
increase has become still greater during last started from 1725 to 1920. These were
one decade. associated with emissions of volcanic dust at
Of the many climatic parametres, a regular interval of two to three decades but
temperature is the most affected one due to after 1945 there has been increase in
urbanisation and industrialisation. The temperature globally leading to warming
thermal characteristics of urban areas are in without any major volcanic eruption and
marked contrast to those of surrounding increase in level of carbon dioxide
countryside. The analysis of temperature data concentration in the atmosphere. Scientists
for last fifty years reveals that there is an predict that by 2020, temperature all over the
increase of 0.7 o C in winter and 1.4 o C in world, would be higher than ever during the
summer in India. last 1,000 years. As such, it is evident that

increasing carbon dioxide content would lead one of the most common elements in the
to rise in global temperature. environment, and one which plays a major role
in the greenhouse effect. It is present in all
Greenhouse Effect organic substances, and is a constituent of a
great variety of compounds, ranging from
This concept of heating the atmosphere
relatively simple gases to very complex
indirectly from the earth’s surface is called
derivatives of petroleum hydrocarbons. The
greenhouse effect or commonly known as
carbon in the environment is mobile, readily
atmospheric effect. Obviously the effect of
changing its affiliation with other elements in
atmosphere is analogous to that of a
response to biological, chemical and physical
glass-pane, which lets through most of
processes. This mobility is controlled through
incoming short wave solar energy but greatly
a natural bio-geochemical cycle, which works
retards the outgoing long-wave earth
to maintain a balance between the release of
radiation, thus maintaining sur face
carbon compounds from their sources and
temperatures considerably higher than they
their absorption in sinks.
otherwise would be (Fig.13.1). You can build
The natural carbon cycle is normally,
considered to be self regulated, but in a time
scale of thousands of years. Over shorter
periods, the cycle appears to be unbalanced,
but that may be a reflection of an incomplete
understanding of the processes involved or
perhaps an indication of the presence of sinks
or reservoirs still to be discovered. The carbon
in the system moves between several major
reservoirs. The atmosphere contains more
than 750 billion tonnes of carbon at any given
time, while 2,000 billion tonnes are stored on
land, and close to 4,000 billion tonnes are
contained in the oceans. Living terrestrial
organic matter is estimated to contain between
450 and 600 billion tonnes, somewhat less
than that stored in the atmosphere.
World fossil fuel reserves also constitute an
important carbon reservoir of some 5,000
billion tonnes. They contain carbon, which has
Fig.13.1 : Trapping of Heat in a Glasshouse
not been active in the cycle for millions of
years, but is now being reintroduced as a
an instantaneous greenhouse. Park your car in result of the growing demand for energy in
the sun for two hours with the windows closed. modern society. The burning of fossil fuel adds
Now, observe the interior temperature. It will be more than 5 billion tonnes of CO 2 to the
more than outside temperature. Growing atmosphere every year, with more than 90 per
tomatoes in winter can be accomplished by cent originating in North and Central America,
capitalising on transparency of glass roof in Asia, Europe and the Central Asian Republics.
greenhouse to short wave. The use of fossil fuel remains the primary
source of anthropogenic (human) CO 2. It is
The Carbon Cycle and Greenhouse Effect augmented by the destruction of natural
Three of the principal greenhouse gases — vegetation, which reduces the amount
carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and the recycled CO 2 during photosynthesis. Such
chloroflorocarbon (CFC) — contain carbon, processes are estimated to be responsible for

5-20 per cent of current anthropogenic CO2 Africa. Between 1850 and 1950 some 120
emissions. This is usually considered a modern billion tonnes of carbon were released into the
phenomenon, particularly prevalent in the atmosphere as a result of deforestation and the
tropical rainforests of South America, Southeast destruction of other vegetation by fire.
Asia, North America, Australia and South


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What is a climatic region?
(ii) Into how many regions was the earth divided by the ancient Greeks?
(iii) What criteria was followed by Koeppen to classify climates?
(iv) Why did Trewartha use only a limited number of climatic types?
(v) How human activities add methane and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere?
(vi) What is ice-coring programme? How do they help us know about the climate of the earth
in the past?
(vii) What is ‘greenhouses effect’ of the atmosphere?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Genetic and empirical classifications of climate;
(ii) ‘Ar’ and ‘Aw’ climates;
(iii) Boreal and polar climates.
3. Write short notes on:
(i) Koeppen’s classification of climate;
(ii) Sub-tropical (C) climate;
(iii) Global climatic changes.
4. Describe the broad climatic groups framed by Trewartha. What are the bases of his
5. Describe the advantages of Trewartha’s climatic classification over the Keoppen’s
6. Explain why the tropical humid climate is found in an irregular belt of 200 to 400 latitudes.
7. Describe the atmospheric distribution of carbon and the relationship between the carbon
cycle and the Greenhouse effect.
8. What is global warning? Discuss its causes.
Unit V


lanet Earth is often called water planet the oceans, and most of the remainder is in
or blue planet, because of abundanceof glaciers.
water on its surface. The water bodies The largest reservoir of water is the ocean.
cover 71 per cent of the earth’s surface. 60.7 Of the total expanse of water bodies, about 93
per cent of the total area of the northern per cent is covered by four oceans: Pacific,
hemisphere and 80.9 per cent of the southern Atlantic, Indian and Arctic (Appendix V).
hemisphere are covered with water. If we take
into account only the water surface of the HYDROLOGICAL CYCLE
earth, then 43 per cent lies in the northern Water from oceans is evaporated and lifted into
hemisphere and 57 per cent in the southern the atmosphere. It is eventually condensed
hemisphere. and is returned back to the earth’s surface in
The earth receives essentially pure water the form of rain, hail, dew, snow or sleet.
in droplets condensing from the atmosphere. Some of the precipitation, after wetting the
Different kinds of water are found in different foliage and ground, runs off over the surface
geological environments. Over 97 per cent of to the streams. It is the water that sometimes
all the water on the surface of the earth is in causes erosion and is the main contributor to

Fig.14.1 : Hydrological Cycle

Arrows indicate the flow of water.

floods. Of the precipitation that soaks into the about1,10,000 cubic kilometres of precipi-
ground, some is available for growing plants tation falls on the land surface annually,
and for evaporation. Some reaches the deeper which if distributed evenly on the entire earth
zones and percolates through springs and is 117 cm thick (Table 14.1).
seeps to maintain the streams during dry
period. The streams, in turn, eventually, return Table 14.1: Fluxes (Amount of Water Involved)
the water back to the oceans where it in Hydrological Cycle
originated. It is because of this never ending
circulation that the process has come to be Process Km3/Yr Cm/Yr
known as hydrological cycle. Precipitation on land 1,10,300 74
The hydrological cycle is sometimes Evaporation from land 72,900 49
expressed mathematically as: Runoff from land
RF = RO + ET (river runoff and direct
Where RF includes all types of ground water discharge to
precipitation, RO is runof f and ET is the ocean: 6 per cent of total
evapotranspiration. precipitation on the earth) 37,400 25
Runoff occurs when precipitation, that does Precipitation on the oceans 3,85,700 07
not have an opportunity to infiltrate into soil, Evaporation from the oceans 4,23,100 17
flows across the land surface. However, most Total precipitaion on the earth 4,96,000 97
Total evaporation on the earth 4,96,000 97
of it enters the stream channel untimately,
which carries it to the oceans. A part of the
Source : Berner and Berner (1987).
precipitation that infiltrates the soil percolates
downward to the water table through springs.
Broadly speaking, runoff is composed of water
from both surface flow and seepage flow. It is Continents and ocean basins are the first
an extremely important segment of order relief features of the earth. A detailed
hydrological cycle. Rainwater that reaches the relief map of the earth and its oceans shows
soil surface is wholly or partly absorbed by immediately that the natural limits of the
the soil in the process of infiltration. The amount continents are much larger and more regular
of rainfall entering the soil depends upon the than a conventional map shows. Modern
rate of rainfall and the infiltration rate of the study of the topography of the ocean floors was
soil. greatly advanced through the work of Bruce
About 4,23,000 cubic kilometres of water C. Heezen of the Lamont-Doherty Geological
is evaporated each year from the oceans. Observatory at Columbia University. Heezen,
About 73,000 cubic kilometres is evaporated in 1959, set up a system of submarine
from lakes and land surfaces of the landform classification. According to him, the
continents. Most of the water precipitates topographic features of the ocean basins fall
back onto the ocean but excess falls on the into three major divisions : (i) the continental
land. Because, more snow and rain falls every margins; (ii) the ocean-basin floors; and (iii) the
year than can be evaporated, about 37,000 mid-oceanic ridges.
cubic kilometres of water drips, seeps and
flows from the land to the sea annually. The
The Continental Margins
water evaporated from the land is not only
from exposed surfaces of lakes and The continental margins consist of two major
streams but also from plants and animals. submarine features, the continental shelf
Some evaporation and absorption of and the continental slope (Fig.14.2). The
water is carried by plant roots which is continental shelf fringes the continents in
transpirated through leaves, termed as widths from a few kilometres to 300
evapotranspiration. The total evaporation is kilometres. Major rivers after meeting the sea
equalled by total precipitation, of which continue to maintain their flow in the

between 2,500 and 6,000 m. It covers about

76.2 per cent of the ocean’s area. The ocean-
basin floor contains three types of features — (i)
abyssal plain and hills; (ii) oceanic rise; and
(iii) seamounts.
An abyssal plain is an area of the deep
ocean floor having a flat bottom with a very
faint slope. Characteristically, situated at the
foot of the continental rise, the abyssal plain
is present in all ocean basins. Abyssal plains
are sur faces for med by long continued
Fig.14.2 : Features of the Coastal Ocean Floor deposition of very fine sediments and,
Observe the location of delta and canyon formation. therefore, has a nearly per fect flatness.
Abyssal hills are small hills rising to heights
continental shelf after mixing with the sea of a few tens of metres to a few hundred metres
water. The flow of water excavates the shelf. above the ocean-basin floor.
This results in the formation of submarine The Oceanic rise is an area hundreds of
canyons which can be compared to the deep kilometres in breadth over which the surface
gullies on the land surface. Sediments carried rises several hundred metres above the
from the steeper slopes of the continental shelf surrounding abyssal plains. Within the rise,
in the vicinity of a river delta built up a the relief may range from subdued to very
submarine fan or cone. Along their seaward rugged. The Bermuda is a good example of
margins, the continental shelves give way to oceanic rise. Seamounts are the isolated peaks
continental slopes. The slope is abruptly that rise 1,000 m or more above the sea floor.
replaced by the continental rise, a surface of Many of the seamounts are conspicuously flat
much gentler slope decreasing in steepness topped and extremely steep sided, named as
toward the ocean-basin floor. The continental guyot.
rise generally, has a moderate to low relief.
The continental shelf with depths upto 200 The Mid-Oceanic Ridge
m occupies about 7.6 per cent of the ocean’s
area. The continental slope spreads from 200 One of the most remarkable of the major
m to 2,500 m deep. With a complex relief, it discoveries coming out of oceanographic
comprises 15 per cent of the ocean area. explorations of the mid-twentieth century was
Submarine canyons are striking features of the charting of a great submarine mountain
the continental shelf and the continental slope. chain extending for a total length of some
They are deep valleys with steep slopes that 64,000 km, known as the mid-oceanic ridge.
form long concave profiles. Some canyons are The ridge runs down the middle of the North
dendritic in appearance. The continental and the South Atlantic ocean basins, into the
margins are characterised by some small Indian ocean basin, then passes between
marine features, namely banks, shoals and Australia and Antarctica to enter the South
reefs. A bank is more or less a flat topped Pacific basin. The ridge in its entirety is a belt,
elevation. Because of relatively shallow depth, 2,000 to 2,400 km wide in which the surface
it is used for fishing. A reef is an organic rises through a series of steps from abyssal
deposit made by living or dead coral plains on each side.
organisms. The parts of the ocean, deeper than 6,000 m,
form trenches. They occur here and there, but
The Ocean-Basin Floor most of them are confined to the margins of the
The ocean basin is an extensive region of the Pacific Ocean. They occupy only 1.2 per cent
basin floor, generally, lying at a depth ranging area of the ocean.

TEMPERATURE STRUCTURE OF OCEANS animal lives in coastal areas as well as in

oceans. The temperature structure of oceans
Temperature of water determines its density
over middle and low latitudes can be described
and also influences the availability of various
as a three-layer system from surface to the
species of marine organisms that could live
bottom (Fig.14.3).
suspended in the upper water layers. The
The first layer represents the top layer of
study of surface and sub-surface water
warm oceanic water and it is about 500 m thick
temperature is important both for plant and
with temperature ranging between 20 o and
25o C. This layer within the tropics is present
throughout the year but in mid latitudes it
develops only during summer. The second layer
called thermocline layer (Fig.14.4) lies below the
first layer and is characterised by rapid
500 m
decrease in temperature with increasing depth.
The thermocline is 500 to 1,000 m thick. In low
latitudes, temperature declines gradually, from
5° C below the thermocline to about 1° C at
depths of around 4,000 m. The third layer is
very cold and extends up to the deep ocean
floor. In the Arctic and Antarctic latitudes, the
1000 m
surface water temperatures are close to 0o C
and so the temperature change with depth is
(1000 to very slight. Here, only one layer of cold water
1500 m)
exists, which is present from surface to deep
ocean floor.
The major source of temperature of the
oceanic water is the sun. The following factors
affect the distribution of temperature of the
ocean water: latitude, unequal distribution of
land and water, prevailing wind, ocean
currents, and minor factors like submarine
ridges, local weather conditions, and shape
and size of the sea.
Fig.14.3 : Schematic Diagram of Vertical On an average, the temperature of the
Changes in Sea Temperature and Salinity surface water of the oceans is 26.7 o C; it


Fig.14.4 : Typical Changes in Temperature and Salinity in Oceans in Low and Middle Latitudes

decreases gradually from the equator to the in width. Several islands like Kuriles, Japan,
poles. The oceans in the northern hemisphere Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, etc are
record relatively high average temperature located on the continental shelves. The
than in the southern hemisphere. The highest continental shelves on the western coasts of
temperature is not recorded at the equator, Americas are less extensive, about 80 km only
but a little north of it (Fig. 14.5). The average on an average.
annual temperature of all the oceans is The Pacific Ocean does not have a mid
17.2o C. The average annual temperature for oceanic ridge, but there are a few scattered
the northern hemisphere is 19.4o C and for the ridges of local importance. Some of them are
southern hemisphere is 16.1o C. the East Pacific Rise called the Albatross
Plateau, the South East Pacific Plateau, the
The Pacific Ocean Pacific — Antarctic Ridge, the Chile Rise, the
Lord Howo Rise, the Hawaiian Ridge etc. Some
The Pacific is the largest ocean. It covers about
important ocean basins of the Pacific are the
one-third of area of the earth, which is more
Philippine basin, the Figi basin, the East
than the entire land area of the world. Though
Australian basin, the Peru basin, the South-
the average depth of the Pacific Ocean is
western Pacific basin, the Central Pacific basin
4,572 m only, it is the deepest of all the oceans.
etc. Some of the trenches of this ocean are the
The Mariana trench is 11,034 m deep from sea
Aleutian, the Kuril, the Japan, the Bonin, the
level. It is dotted with over 20,000 islands,
Mindanao, the Mariana, the Tonga, the
which are mostly of coral and volcanic origin.
Kermadec, and the Atacama.
The floor of the Pacific Ocean is fairly
uniform with broad rises and depressions
The Atlantic Ocean
(Fig.14.6). There is a significant difference in
the extent and characteristics of the The Atlantic is about half the size of the Pacific
continental shelves on the easter n and Ocean and covers about one-sixth of the
western coasts of the Pacific. Along the eastern earth’s area. Resembling ‘S’ in shape, the
coast of Australia and Asia, the shelves are ocean is bounded on the west by North
broad and extensive, from 160 to 1,600 km America and South America, and on the east

Fig.14.5 : Distribution of Surface Temperature in Oceans


Bering Sea

Kuril Trench

Japan Trench Mendocino

Bonin Trench
Mindanao Mariana
South Trench Trench
China Central Pacific
Basin East
Basin Pacific Albatross
Basin Plateau

Coral Sea Chain

Tonga South East

Trench Pacific Plateau Atacama
Rise Kermadec Albatross
Trench Cordillera
Tasman Ridge
Basin South Western
Below 3600m. Antarctic
Pacific Basin Ridge
Ocean deep

Fig.14.6 : Major Relief Features of the Pacific Ocean

by Europe and Africa (Fig. 14.7). To the south it The mid-Atlantic ridge divides the ocean into
extends upto Antarctica and in the north it is two major basins, namely the East and the West
bounded by Greenland and Iceland. Atlantic basins. Some other basins in the
The continental shelf spreads all around the Atlantic are the North American basin, the
Atlantic Ocean, though its width varies greatly. Labrador basin, the Guiana basin, the Brazil
Off the coast of Africa, it is 80-160 km wide but basin, the Argentina basin, the Agulhas basin,
off the north east coast of North America and the Angola basin, the West European basin
northwest Europe, it is 250-400 km in width. etc. The important trenches of the Atlantic
A number of marginal seas like the Gulf of ocean are the Cayman, the Puerto Rico, and
Mexico, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the the South Sandwich.
Norwegian, the Hudson Bay, the Baltic and the
North Seas are located in the Atlantic Ocean. The Indian Ocean
The mid-Atlantic ridge, running from north
to south in ‘S’ form is about 14,450 km long Smaller than the Pacific and the Atlantic, the
and about 4,000 metres high. The ridge has a Indian Ocean is bounded on the north by
broad fracture in the middle and slopes on Asia, on the west by Africa, on the east by Asia
both sides gently. The mid oceanic ridge in the and Australia and on the south by Antarctica
North Atlantic is known as the Dolphin ridge, (Fig.14.8). The average depth of the ocean is
and that in the South Atlantic as the Challenger 4,000 m. The continental shelves of the
ridge. A number of islands are located on the Indian Ocean have a wide variation. It is
ridge. extensive along the margins of the Arabian Sea




Dolphin Azores
Ridge Is
Basin Madeiro
Canary Is
Cayman Puerto
Trench Rico
Cape Verde



Ascension Angola
Is St.Helena

da Walvis
Cunna Ridge

Below 3600m. land South
Is Sandwich
Ocean deeps Trench

Fig.14.7 : Major Relief Features of the Atlantic Ocean



Ridge Sri Lanka
Chagos Ridge
Ridge Sunda
Central Basin Trench
Mascarene Basin
South Australian

Edward South
Crozet Ridge Australian
Amstardam-St. Paul Basin

South Indian Basin

Below 3600m.
Ocean deep

Fig.14.8 : Major Relief Features of the Indian Ocean

and the Bay of Bengal. It is also extensive along Bengal etc. The mid-Indian Oceanic ridge
the eastern coast of Africa and around, extends from the southern tip of the Indian
Madagascar. Here it is about 640 km wide, but Peninsula in the north to Antarctica in the
along the coast of Java and Sumatra it is south. It forms a continuous chain of
comparatively narrow (160km). It is also highlands. The central ridge near the Indian
narr ow along the norther n coast of Peninsula has a width of about 320 km and
Antarctica. In comparison to the Pacific and in the south between 30 o S and 50 o S, it is
the Atlantic Oceans the marginal seas in the 1,600 km. The important ridges of the Indian
Indian Ocean are less in number. Some Ocean are the Socotra-Chagos ridge, the
significant marginal seas are the Mozambique Lakshadweep Chagos ridge, Seychelles ridge,
Channel, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Andaman – Nicobar ridge and the Prince
Andaman Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Edward Crozet ridge.

The mid-Indian Oceanic and other ridges substances that are thought to have entered the
divide the Indian Ocean into a number of atmosphere and the hydrosphere. Sodium,
ocean basins. They are the Oman basin, the magnesium, calcium and potassium have
Arabian basin, the Somali basin, the been derived from igneous rocks. The average
Agulhas–Natal basin, the Atlantic–Indian– time that an element remains dissolved in the
Antar ctic basin, the Easter n Indian- ocean before removal is known as residence
Antarctic basin, the west Australian basin time. Sodium has very low rate of chemical
etc. reaction in the marine environment and
There are very few trenches in the Indian remains longer in the oceans than other
Ocean. The Java or Sunda trench (7,450 m) elements. Thus, it is reflected in its predominant
is the deepest. The important deep sea plains concentration. Calcium enters the oceans in the
of the Indian Ocean are the Somali, the Sri largest percentage but is relatively easily
Lankan and the Indian abyssal plains. Sixty removed as calcium carbonate to become
per cent of the abyssal plains in this ocean sedimentary deposit. Silicon, released in large
range in height from 3,600 to 5,400 m. amounts has an extremely short residence
time. The silicon, therefore, is present in small
SALINITY OF SEA WATER amounts in sea water.
The sea water is saline. The total weight of salt The proportions in which various chemical
dissolved in the sea is 48,000 million million elements are present in relation to one another
tones (mmt). Of these, sodium chloride, or in sea water are remarkably, constant
common salt, accounts for 38,000mmt, throughout all oceans. The salinity of water
sulphate for 3,000 mmt, magnesium for 1,600 which is the total weight of dissolved solids to
mmt, potassium for 480 mmt and bromide for weight of water, is a variable quantity, differing
83 mmt. The amazing thing about this in value from place to place over the oceans and
solution is not the quantities of salts but the at various depths. The average salinity is 35 per
consistency of their ratio. The sea water may thousand , i.e. 35 grams of salt per 1,000 grams
be less saline or more saline depending upon of sea water. The relationship of salinity to
the extent of evaporation, river discharge and depth is analogous with the three layer
precipitation, but the salt composition temperature system. A shallow surface layer
remains invariable. of uniformly high salinity (35.0 to 36.5 per
Dittmar during his Challenger Expedition thousand) corresponds with the uniformly
(1884) reported the existence of 47 types of warm layer. Below this layer is a zone of rapid
salts in sea water, out of which seven are most decrease in salinity, the halocline (Fig. 14.3)
important (Table 14.2). which corresponds with the thermocline.
Chlorine, sulphate, carbonic acid, bromine Below the halocline, differences in salinity are
and boric acid are among the volatile very small and salinity lies in the range of 34.6

Table 14.2 Significant Salt in Sea Water

Salts Amount (per thousand gm.) Percentage
1. Sodium Chloride (NaCl) 27.213 77.8
2. Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2) 3.807 10.9
3. Magnesium Sulphate (MgSo4) 1.658 4.7
4. Calcium Sulphate (CaSo4) 1.260 3.6
5. Potassium Sulphate (K2So4) 0.863 2.5
6. Calcuim carbonate (CaCo3) 0.123 0.3
7. Magnesium Bromide (MgBr2) 0.076 0.2
Total 35.000 100.0

to 34.9 per thousand for most of the ocean while in the Baltic Sea it is 3 to 4 per thousand
body. Thus, the salinity decreases with on an average.
increasing depth. The salinity of inland seas and lakes is very
There is a wide range of variation in the high because of regular supply of salt by rivers
spatial distribution of salinity in the oceans flowing into them. Evaporation makes them
and seas. The factors that control distribution more saline as it carries very little salt with it.
of salinity in oceans are the rate of Very high salinity is found in Lake Van, Turkey
evaporation, precipitation, discharge of rivers, (330 per thousand), Dead Sea (240 per
atmospheric pressure, wind direction and thousand) and Great Salt lake, USA (220 per
circulation of oceanic water. thousand).
Salinity in seawater varies from place to
place and also temporally. At the equator, the ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF OCEANS
salinity is somewhat lower due to abundant The marine environment provides rich source
rains, greater cloudiness and low rate of of animal and plant life. The coastal
evaporation. In latitudes about 20o in both the inhabitants depend mostly on the marine
hemispheres, where evaporation is more animal life for trade and sustenance. The plant
intense and precipitation is lower, salinity is and animal life is also used in the preparation
greater. In the temperate latitudes, where of medicines and cosmetics. Besides, the
evaporation is less and rains are more continental margins are being exploited for
abundant, salinity is lower (Fig. 14.9). In the mineral production. The shallow continental
Red Sea where no river flows, the salinity is shelves and inland seas are best known for
from 40 to 41 per thousand. In the Black Sea placer deposits (economic minerals
in which numerous rivers discharge, the transported as sediment by river action) of
salinity is 17 to 18 per thousand. In the White platinum, gold and tin. The continental
Sea, it is between 25 and 26 per thousand, shelves are also exploited for petroleum

Fig.14.9 : Distribution of Surface Water Salinity in Oceans


resources. Exploration of the deep ocean floor • The deepest part of the ocean is the
as a source of minerals is still in an early stage. Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. It is
The manganese nodules found on ocean floors 11,034 m deep below the sea level.
are regarded as the major source of this • The tallest sea mount is situated between
mineral in future. The nodules will also be the Samoa and New Zealand which is 8,690 m
source of nickel, copper and cobalt. high from the surrounding ocean floor.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) Why is the earth called blue planet?
(ii) Define continental shelf.
(iii) What are oceanic deeps?
(iv) How is hydrological cycle expressed mathematically?
(v) What are seamounts?
(vi) What is an abyssal plain?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Continental shelf and continental slope;
(ii) Bank and reef;
(iii) First and third layers of the oceanic water;
(iv) Thermocline and halocline.
3. Write short notes on the following:
(i) Continental rise;
(ii) Mid oceanic ridge;
(iii) Ocean basins;
(iv) Submarine canyons.
4. Describe relief of the Indian Ocean floor.
5. Prepare a map of the Atlantic ocean floor, mentioning ocean basins and mid–Atlantic ridges.

Project work
On maps of different oceans show major relief features and colour them. Also prepare a list of
different features under the following heads:
• Mid-oceanic ridges;
• Ocean basins;
• Seamounts;
• Trenches.


he world of the oceans and seas has middle-latitude westerlies, blowing from west
sometimes been called ‘inner space’. to east, exert a one-way drag on sea surface
Humans have made use of the sea for over vast expanse of oceans. This drag
thousands of years — for food, transport or as produces a system of drift currents. Because
a waste dump. The sea also has a considerable of the Coriolis effect — the effect of the earth’s
effect upon the land and the life forms found rotation — the direction of water drift in the
there. Water heats and cools quite slowly and northern hemisphere is in a compass direction
the oceans moderate the world’s climate. about 450 to the right of the direction of
prevailing wind.
OCEAN CURRENTS Differences in water density can also set
The ocean current is the general movement of currents in motion and these are described as
a mass of water in a fairly defined direction thermocline currents. A surface water layer in
over great distances. Currents can range in one place may be less dense because it is
scale from ocean wide flow systems to local warmer or lower in density than the water
currents of small extent and can be generated layer in adjacent place that is either colder or
by several mechanisms. The most important has higher density. The water then moves
mechanisms for the great ocean currents are gently from the region of less to the higher
(i) the drag of winds over the ocean surface; density. Due to Coriolis effect, the moving
and (ii) unequal forces set up by differences in water turns and follows elliptical path, known
water density. as gyre. The water circulation in these gyres
Ocean currents are broadly of two types: is clockwise in the northern hemisphere and
warm and cold currents. The warm currents counter clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
flow from the low latitudes in tropical zones The westward drift of water in equatorial
towards the high latitudes in the temperate region is referred to as the North Equatorial
and sub-polar zones. The cold currents flow Current and the South Equatorial Current.
from high latitudes to low latitudes. The ocean These are separated by the Equatorial
currents flow like extensive rivers in the ocean. Countercurrent that moves eastward and is
The rate of flow and the width of the currents, caused by the return of lighter surface water,
however, are not uniform. The Gulf Stream, for which has been piled up on the western side
example, is 80 km wide and 1.6 km deep. The of the ocean basin by the Equatorial Currents.
Florida Current has a velocity of 10 km per The souther n part of the Pacific Ocean,
hour at the surface and 3.5 km at a depth of Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean, in the region
200m. of fiftieth and sixtieth parallel, for ms a
Wind flowing over the water surface exerts continuous circular ribbon of ocean, scarcely
a dragging force upon that surface, setting the interrupted by land. Here, the Antarctic
surface water layer in motion. Prevailing Circumpolar Current flows eastward in an
winds, such as the tropical easterlies (trade uninterrupted path following the parallel of
winds), blowing from east to west, and the latitudes.

Besides the horizontal movement discussed which flows west to east. Near the south-western
above, vertical circulation of ocean water is also coast of South America it turns north as the Peru
an important phenomenon. Ocean surface is Current. It is a cold current that feeds the South
marked with sinking (surges) and upwelling Equatorial Current, thus completing the circle.
(swales) caused by wind action, evaporation of The North and the South Equatorial Currents
surface water, addition of surface water by cause disturbance in the surface levels due to
rainfall and changes in density due to cooling accumulation of waters in the western parts.
or warming of the surface layer. Most important This gives rise to the Counter Equatorial
cause of sinking of ocean water on a large scale Currents that flow eastward.
is cooling of surface layer by loss of heat to the
overlying atmosphere in high latitudes. During Currents of the Atlantic Ocean
long winters, much heat is lost to space than is
To the north and the south of the equator,
gained by solar radiation, thereby relatively
steady trade winds give rise to two streams of
warm surface waters brought poleward by
surface water that flows westward. They are
ocean currents are chilled and increase in
known as the North and the South Equatorial
density. This water may be close to the freezing
Currents (Fig. 15.2). In order to replace the
point and therefore, sinks to the ocean floor.
removal of water from eastern side, return
Thus, a surface called convergence zone, is
currents are generated that flows west to east
created in both the Arctic and Antarctic
as the Equatorial Counter Current. This
current is known as the Guinea Current off
the west African coast. The South Equatorial
Currents of the Pacific Ocean
Current bifurcates into two branches near the
The North Equatorial Current from the west coast of Brazil. The northern branch reinforces
coast of Central America reaches the the North Equatorial Current. A part of this
Philippine Island, flowing across from east to current enters the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf
west in the North Pacific Ocean (Fig.15.1). of Mexico whereas the remainder passes along
Turning northward, the North Equatorial the eastern side of the West Indies as the
Current flows along Taiwan and Japan to form Antilles Current. The currents bring in bulk
Kuro Shio Current. The currents are influenced of warm water in the Gulf of Mexico raising
by the westerlies from south-east coast of the water level in the Gulf. The current that
Japan and tend to flow from west to east as moves along the southeastern coast of United
the North Pacific Current. The current gets States from the Cape of Florida to the Cape
bifurcated into the northern and the southern Hatteras is known as the Florida Current.
branches, called the Alaska and the California Beyond the Cape Hatteras it is known as the
Currents, respectively after reaching the west Gulf Stream. From the Grand Banks of
coast of North America. The Alaska Current Newfoundland, the Gulf Stream flows
flows anticlockwise along the coast of British eastward across the Atlantic as the North
Columbia and Alaska whereas the Californian Atlantic Drift. The main current of the drift
Current flows along the coast of California. The after reaching the British Isles flows along the
cold current, the Oya Shio, flows in the north coast of Norway as the Norwegian Current
of the Pacific. Another cold current, named the and enters the Arctic Ocean. The southerly
Okhotsk Current, flows in the North Pacific and branch of the drift flows between Spain and
merges with the Oya Shio Current which Azores as the cold Canaries Current. The East
finally, sinks beneath the warmer waters of the Greenland and the Labrador Currents flow
Kuro Shio. The South Equatorial Current flows from the Arctic Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean.
in the South Pacific Ocean. It flows southward The Labrador Current flows along the east
as the East Australian Current before meeting coast of Canada and meets the warm Gulf
the cold South Pacific Current near Tasmania Stream. The confluence of warm and cold

currents produce fogs around Newfound- The Falkland Current, a cold current, flows along
land. the south-eastern coast of South America from
The South Equatorial Current in the South south to north.
Atlantic Ocean flows from east to west and
bifurcates into two branches near Brazil. The Currents of the Indian Ocean
northern branch joins the North Equatorial
Current. The southern branch, known as the The circulation of currents in the Indian Ocean
Brazil Current, flows along the South American is characteristically, different from the Atlantic
coast and meets the South Atlantic Current. The and the Pacific Oceans because the Indian
Benguela Current branches out from the South Ocean is land locked in the north. The
Atlantic Current and flows along the west coast circulation pattern in the northern portion of
of South Africa before finally joining the South the Indian Ocean changes its direction in
Equatorial Current and completing the circuit. response to seasonal rhythm of the monsoons.


Fig.15.1 : Currents of the Pacific Ocean

Note the location and direction of warm and cold ocean currents.

C. C.
nd i an
la eg
e en w
Gr N or

Fig.15.2 : Currents of the Atlantic Ocean

Examine the effect of the North Atlantic Drift on Norway’s coastline.

Fig.15.3 : Currents of the Indian Ocean (Winter)

Observe the effect of North East Monsoon on the directions of the North East Monsoon Drift.

Fig.15.4 : Currents of the Indian Ocean (Summer)

Compare this figure with Fig. 15.3.

Fig.15.5 : Wave Parameters

Compare the wave height and wave length.

There is clear reversal of currents between period. The vertical distance between a
winter (Fig. 15.3), and summer (Fig. 15.4). The trough and a crest is the wave height
north-east monsoon drives water along the (Fig. 15.5).
coast of the Bay of Bengal to circulate in anti- The velocity of a moving wave can be
clockwise direction. Similarly, along the coasts determined as follows:
of the Arabian Sea, an anticlockwise circulation Wave Length (L)
of currents develop. The circulation of water in Velocity of Wave (V) =
the northern part of ocean is clockwise in Wave Period (T)
summer. This is due to the effect of strong The mechanism of the origin of sea waves
south-west monsoon and absence of north- is not precisely known but it is commonly
east trades. The southern part of the Indian believed that they are generated due to friction
Ocean has the circulation pattern similar to on water surface caused by winds. The height
that of other southern oceans, in anticlockwise of sea waves depends on (i) the wind speed; (ii)
direction and it is less marked by the seasonal the duration of wind from a particular
changes. The circulation pattern is simple. The direction; and (iii) the fetch or the expanse of
South Equatorial Current moves westward. water surface over which the wind blows. Where
Along the coast of Africa, it bifurcates. The the water is deep, the winds are fast and blow
major part turns to the south as the over a long period of time, and the bottom
Mozambique and the Agulhas Currents, does not interfere with the undulatory
which turn to the east as the West Wind Drift. movement of water, the formation of waves is
Along the west coast of Australia, it flows high. A wind speed of 160 km per hour,
northwards as the West Australian Current blowing for about 50 hours, over a fetch of
and then joins the South Equatorial Current. 1,600 km has produced waves of 15 metres
In winter, the North East Monsoon Current height. In high seas, a wave height of 1.5 metres
flows south of the equator as the Counter to 4.5 metres is common which increases to
Current in easterly direction. 12 to 15 metres during strong storms. With
such heights the wave length varies between
WAVES 60 and 210 metres and the velocity from 30 to
100 metres per hour.
Waves are oscillatory movements in water,
where its particles move in a vertical plane, up It should be noted that in wave motion there
and down. The upper part of a wave is called is no shifting of the mass of water. Ocean waves
the crest, and the lower part the trough. Each produced by winds belong to a class described
wave has a wave length, velocity, height and as progressive waves, because the wave form
wave period. The distance between two moves rapidly through the water. The
successive crests or two successive troughs is progressive waves produced by the wind are of
the wave length. The time taken by a wave length a type called oscillatory waves. In oscillatory
to pass a fixed point is known as the wave waves each wave passes a fixed reference point,

Twice a day, about every 12 hours and 26

minutes, the sea level rises and twice a day it
falls. The rise of sea level is called the flood tide
and the fall is called the ebb tide. These
fluctuations are not easily noticeable on the
high seas, and these do not exceed a few metres.
In the region of the shelf and in the estuaries
of big rivers, the fluctuations are considerably
high, from six or seven metres to fifteen or
twenty metres.
The mechanism of the tides was explained
by Issac Newton. He demonstrated that the
Fig.15.6 : Circular Orbit in a Low Sea Wave
phenomenon was caused by the attraction of
Note the direction of arrow in circular orbits on the crest the moon and the sun (Fig.15.7). According to
and trough. the universal law of gravitation, the side of the
earth facing the moon has a force of attraction
the water particles travel through a vertical cycle and the side which is farthest from the moon
of motion and return approximately to their has a centrifugal force, almost equal to the
force of attraction. The force of attraction
original position.
between physical particles is proportional to
On the wave crest, the water particles move their mass and inversely proportional to the
forward in the direction the wave travels while square of distance between them. The sun,
in the trough they move backward, opposite
to the direction the wave travels (Fig.15.6).
When a train of ocean waves arrives at the
coast of a continent or island, it encounters
shallow water. The configuration of coast
interferes the progress of the wave. Waves in
shallow water are modified into ellipses that
become progressively flatter as the coast is
As the steepening wave continues to travel
shoreward, encountering still shallower water,
the crest height increases sharply and the Fig.15.7 : Effect of Tide Producing Forces
forward slope of the wave becomes greatly on the Earth
steepened. At a critical point, the wave form Compare the length of arrows in attractive and
disintegrates into a mass of turbulent water centrifugal force.
called the breaker. Thereafter, it becomes a
landward moving sheet of highly turbulent being bigger, has more attractive force than the
water known as the swash or uprush. The water moon, but the moon being nearer has more
then begins to pour seaward, down the slope in attractive force than the sun. As the sun is far
a reverse flow termed the backwash or away from the earth, its force of attraction is
backrush. very small — the reason, ‘inversely proportional
to square of distance’ from the earth (Fig. 15.8).
TIDES The mass of the sun is 30 million times larger
than that of the moon but the sun is 300 times
Tides are the periodic rise and fall in the level farther from the earth than the moon. The tide
of water in seas and oceans caused by producing force of the moon is thus, 2.17 times
differential attraction of the moon and the sun. greater than that of the sun. On the earth (land)

last quarters of the lunar month, the sun, the

earth and the moon occupy a right angular
position and hence, the attraction and
centrifugal forces of the moon and the sun do
not combine. This reduces the height of the
tides to the minimum which is called the neap
The height of tidal waves vary from place
to place because of the following : relative
position of the moon and the sun with respect
to the earth, distribution of land and ocean on
Fig.15.8 : Decrease in Gravitational Force the earth’s surface, and irregularities in the
with Distance
configuration of oceans. At Okha, in Gujarat,
Observe how the gravitational force decreases inversely the tidal waves have a height of 2.5 metres
proportionate to square of distance.
only, but in the Bay of Fundy it is between 15
and 18 metres.
near Moscow, the tidal oscillation is 50 cm, in
ocean waters it is one metre. Near the shore it The tidal waves follow the direction of the
is 10-18 metres high or more. moon. In certain inland seas where tidal waves
Because of the earth’s rotation each reach from different directions, one can find a
meridian has a high and a low tide at an interval number of high tides and low tides as it is in the
of 12 hours and 26 minutes, or two high tides North Sea between European mainland and the
and two low tides in 24 hours and 52 minutes, British Isles. When such waves enter the gulfs
one caused by the attractive force and the other or river mouths, the tidal crests look like a vertical
by the centrifugal force (in case of high tide). The wall of water rushing upstream, which is known
sun affects tides to a much smaller extent. as the tidal bore.
As the moon revolves round the earth in
Tides and tidal bores serve human beings
about 29 days, the moon on the earth’s surface
in several ways. The tides clear away the
does not appear every day at the same time. It
sediments brought down by rivers and thus,
is delayed by 52 minutes every day, that is in
reduce the process of delta formation. The tidal
24 hours (Fig. 15.9). Twice a month, when the
waves increase water level in rivers to allow ships
earth, the moon and the sun are in a straight
to enter the inland ports.
line, that happens on the new moon or the full
moonday, the tides attain maximum height, Tides are used for fishing and generation of
and it is called the spring tide. On the first and electricity. The energy of the tides is estimated
to have a potential of 1,000 million kw, which is
more than all the rivers of the world put together.
However, its use at present is limited. France and
Japan have power stations based on tidal

• The Sargasso in the wester n North

Atlantic is surrounded by the Florida
Current. It is often windless and is choked
with seaweed. It is the birthplace of
common eels.
• Sunlight penetrates water to about 900 m,
but only in top 100 m is there enough light
Fig.15.9 : Moon’s Revolution and the for plants to photosynthesise.
Interval of Tides


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) What are ocean currents?
(ii) Name the factors that control the origin of ocean currents.
(iii) How can velocity of a wave be determined?
(iv) What are tides?
(v) What is a tidal bore?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) Cold and warm ocean currents;
(ii) Spring tide and neap tide;
(iii) Swash and back wash.
3. Write short notes on the following:
(i) Ocean currents of the Indian Ocean;
(ii) Origin of tides.
4. If there were no ocean currents, what would have happened to the world. Discuss.
5. How can velocity of the ocean currents be measured?

Project Work
Prepare a chart showing ocean currents of the Atlantic Ocean. Name cold and warm ocean
currents. Mention the effect of these currents on the climate of the surrounding areas.

Unit VI



rganically, biosphere is the most active have been described and ordered by a system
sphere of the earth in comparison to of classification which has been internatio-
the lithosphere, atmosphere and nally accepted. The science of classification of
hydrosphere. It is a shallow zone at the earth organisms is called taxonomy. Earlier, all
surface, both on land and in water. All living organisms used to be broadly grouped into two
organisms together with the environment with categories — the plant kingdom and the
which they interact for m the biosphere. animal kingdom. Under each category there
Whether they belong to the plant or animal used to be several species. Whittaker, in 1969,
kingdom, they all interact with each other. The divided dif ferent organisms into five
study of these interactions between life forms kingdoms, namely:
and the environment is called ecology. All the (i) Monera (single cell microscopic
components which enter into interactions with organisms);
a group of organisms is called ecosystem. (ii) Protista (unicellular, primarily aquatic
The earth is full of diversities. There is organisms);
diversity in soils and minerals, diversity in (iii) Plantae (multicellular photosynthetic
plants and animals, and diversity in cultures plants);
and civilisations. Charaka, the father of (iv) Fungi (multicellular decomposers) and;
Ayurveda, who lived in the first century A.D., (v) Animalia (multicellular animal consumers).
listed over 200 kinds of animals and about 340 The above classification into five kingdoms
kinds of plants in his book of Indian medicine is made on the following criteria: complexity
titled Charaka Samhita. Carolus Linnaeus, the of cell structure, complexity of organism’s
eighteenth century Swedish naturalist, body, and mode of obtaining nutrition.
identified about 5,900 species of plants and Bacteria belong to the monera kingdom. Its
4,200 species of animals. Since then some 1.7 cells are microscopic and do not contain a
million species have been given scientific nucleus. It prepares its own food by reducing
names; of these, over a million are animal carbondioxide and using light energy or energy
species and the rest plant species. According derived from chemical reactions.
to an estimate, over 5 million species of living Protistan organisms are mostly unicellu-
organisms exist in the world today, and over lar. Many are photosynthetic autotrophs and
half of these are believed to be found in the chief producers in oceans and fresh water
unexplored tropical rain forests of the world. environments. They are collectively called
phytoplankton, microscopic, floating photo-
The rain forests constitute less than 8 per cent
synthetic organisms.
of the total land area of the world but support
Plantae includes all the coloured,
a very rich diversity of life.
multicellular, photosynthetic plants which we
all see on land, on sea shores, in lakes and in
streams. Main groups are the sea weeds
Scientists can identify many kinds of consisting of algae, mosses, ferns, and seed
organisms with scientific names because they plants with or without flowers.

Fungi includes diverse kinds of multi- distribution of living organisms. The abiotic
cellular heterotrophic organisms. There are over component consists of the kinds, quantity and
100,000 species of fungi. Some are unicellular distribution of physical and chemical factors
like yeasts, others complex like mushrooms. The such as light, temperature, water, oxygen,
fungi are the major decomposers and their carbon, nitrogen and minerals. The study of
activity is essential for the recycling of inorganic the functional aspect of an ecosystem involves
resources in the biosphere. the volume and the rate at which various
Members of the animal kingdom are materials circulate and the rate at which
multicellular. This includes sponges, snails, energy flows through it. The study also
insects, star fishes, amphibians, birds, includes the processes by which living
mammals etc. Under each kingdom, there are organisms change the abiotic environment,
several species. the processes by which non-living
Human beings belong to one of the species environment affect living organisms and the
of the animal kingdom. But because of their events by which population levels of organisms
unique characteristics, they are called Homo are regulated.
sapiens (homo= man; sapiens = wise). At the
biological level, the human beings are not unique Biotic Components
for strength, ability, speed or endurance. They
All organisms require energy for their life
have a poorer sense of hearing, smell and vision
processes and materials for the formation and
than many other animals, but their brains are
maintenance of body structures. Food
large and highly developed, and they have skilled
supplies both energy and materials for the
hands. They can change themselves according
sustenance of life. Green plants produce
to environment and need and hence, more
carbohydrates by photosynthesis and also
powerful than other animals.
synthesise proteins and fats. The green
ORGANISATION OF AN ECOSYSTEM plants, therefore, are called producers. The
animals that consume this energy as food are
The biotic community along with the physical called consumers. The non-green organisms
environment forms an interacting system like the fungi and some bacteria, which do not
called the ecosystem. An ecosystem can be produce their own food, live on the dead
natural or artificial, temporary or permanent. and decaying plants or animals and are
A large grassland or a forest, a small tract in a consumers of a special type, called
forest or a single log, an edge of pond, a village, decomposers (Fig. 16.1).
an aquarium or a manned spaceship can all The herbivores like cattle, deer and goat
be regarded as ecosystems. Thus, any derive their food (or energy) directly from
structural and functional unit of the plants (the producers) and are called the first
environment that can be identified and studied order consumers. The carnivorous organisms
is called ecosystem. like the tiger and the lion are the second order
The study of an ecosystem is not merely a consumers. The food relation in its simplest
description of the biotic community and its form — grass-deer-tiger-microorganisms —
abiotic environment. It involves the representing a producer, a primary consumer,
understanding of a whole network of a secondary consumer and a decomposer is
relationships comprising the various called a food chain (Fig.16.2). Each step in the
exchanges and interactions between the living food chain represents a trophic level.
and the non-living. Various structural
components of an ecosystem are classified Energy Flow in the Biosphere
into two main groups: (i) biotic or living; and
(ii) abiotic or non-living. Energy from the sun enters the living world
The biotic component of an ecosytem through photosynthetic organisms and passes
comprises the kinds, numbers and on from one organism to another in the form

Fig.16.1 : Cycle of Energy and Nutrient Flow in an Ecosystem

Note the direction of flow of energy and that of the nutrients.

of food. The organisms which trap solar energy their own life processes. Only a portion of the
and act as producers also use some energy for energy trapped is taken up by the primary

Fig.16.2 : Food Chain

Note how energy received from the sun is transferred to other organisms.

consumers. Animals being more active than chains exists, which is called a food web. The
plants use much of the energy acquired before food web becomes more complicated when
they are consumed by the next trophic level. taste and preference, availability and
At each stage of energy transfer, some amount compulsion are involved. In the Sunderbans,
of energy is lost from the food chain. The tigers are forced to feed on fish or crabs.
amount of energy transferred to the next In a food chain the members at the
higher level thus, gradually decreases. The successive higher levels become smaller in
decomposition of dead organisms also releases number. In a forest, the small herbivorous
chemical energy. Eventually, all the solar insects are more abundant than the
energy that entered the living system through insectivorous birds. The preying birds like
the producers goes back into the non-living hawks are fewer than insectivorous birds.
world, not as light but as heat. Thus. the number of organisms in one trophic
In nature the food relationships cannot be level is higher than that at the next higher
explained only in terms of a single food chain. level. When the number at successive levels
A herbivore consumes many types of plant or are plotted, they assume the shape of a
plant products. Many kinds of animals other pyramid. (Fig.16.3). This is called a pyramid of
than the tiger derive food from herbivorous numbers.
animals. Ticks and mites, leeches and blood- The number of organisms at any trophic
sucking insects are dependent on herbivores level depends upon the availability of
and even on carnivores. Thus, food chains are organisms which serve as food at the lower
not isolated linear chains of trophic levels. level. Thus, the number of a particular
Depending upon the availability and choice of herbivorous insect would increase if more
food, different organisms at each level have plant food was available to them.
food relationship with more than one organism Consequently, plenty of food would be
at the lower levels. A rat, for example, feeds available not only to its prey, but also to other
on various kinds of stems, roots, fruits and animals like a bird which feeds on that insect
grains. In turn, it is consumed by a snake even as a second choice leading to an increase
which is eaten by a falcon. The snakes feed on in their number. As a result of this increased
both frogs and rats. Thus, a network of food predation the number of herbivorous insects

Fig.16.3 : Food Pyramid (Pyramid of Numbers)

Note the organism who is at the top level and why is it so.

is decreased and this in turn would lead to a the most important abiotic factors are
reduction in the number of their predators. described below :
Thus, availability of food is the main factor Temperature: Living organisms can
which maintains the grand balance of nature. survive only in a narrow range of temperature
This balance is dynamic and fluctuates within which allows their metabolism. Wherever they
certain limits. live the organisms must develop physiological
No organism exists in isolation but in and behavioural adaptations to withstand
company with others of similar or differing extremes of temperature. The polar bear can
type, and its actual or ecological range will live in very cold regions and hibernate during
depend on the suitability of the biotic winter. Some birds and mammals migrate to
environment. The biotic environment is a warmer places in winter to avoid extreme cold.
product of the interactions between organisms Some desert animals live inside burrows to
and their abiotic habitat vis-à-vis interactions avoid the intense heat of the desert. Water is
between organisms of the same or different an essential requirement of life. A large
species living together. Competition is a number of organisms live only in water. The
negative interaction in which both competing requirement of water varies from organism to
species suffer. It is the struggle of two or more organism. The distribution of organisms
organisms to exploit the same resources. For depends upon the extent of the need and
example, green plants compete each other for special adaptations for conserving water. Light
sunlight. The creation of shade and the is essential for photosynthetic organisms for
consequent reduction in light intensity is the the preparation of food, on which the rest of
most common way in which one type of plant the living world depends. Plants show various
may suppress or prevent the growth of other adaptations for obtaining optimum light. Most
plants. The process of intra and inter-specific animals are sensitive to light. Many animals
competition between animals is more complex have special photoreceptors.
than that between plants. Competition among Humidity : The atmospheric humidity
directly regulates the rate at which water
animals is primarily for living space, food and
evaporates from the earth’s surface, and the
breeding partners.
body of organisms by transpiration,
In contrast to the preceding negative biotic
perspiration and other means. Plants and
interactions, mutualism and communalism are
animals have different levels of adaptations to
the two positive biotic interactions. Mutualism
withstand dry conditions. Wind determines
or symbiosis is the mutually beneficial
the rate of transpiration where wind velocity
association of two dissimilar organisms.
is very high, the plants with strong root system
Communalism occurs when one of the two
and tough stems only survive. Most organisms
species benefits from an association while the
thrive in an optimal pH range. Some plants
other is unaffected as in the case of plants or
and aquatic animals require acidic conditions,
animals growing on shells of marine animals.
others need neutral or alkaline conditions. The
pH of the soil and water has a strong influence
Abiotic Components
on the distribution of organisms.
Among the abiotic factors the most important Mineral elements: Availability and
are climatic and edaphic factors. The climatic concentration of essential mineral elements
factors include temperature, humidity, rain control the distribution of microbes and plants
and snowfall. The edaphic factors comprise and animals. Plants living in soil deficient in
the soil and substratum. The ability of nitrogen have developed special adaptations
organisms to utilise, tolerate or combat the for obtaining it, such as, harbouring nitrogen-
various abotic factors are different and it may fixing bacteria and the carnivorous habit.
limit their distribution, behaviour and Salinity in soil or in water greatly affects the
relationship with other organisms. Some of distribution of organisms. Fresh water species

usually, cannot survive in a marine habitat. factors like wind, water current, light or wave
Animals inhabiting an estuary have special action. The background of the habitat also
physiological or behavioural adaptations to determines the distribution of animals by
withstand fluctuations in salinity caused by enabling them to camouflage against the colour,
tidal rhythms. Topography or sur face general texture and pattern. Desert animals
configuration of an area influences distribution like the lion and the camel are sand-coloured.
of organisms as much as wide geographic Most of the jelly fishes, sea cucumbers are
separation. Topographical effect may be direct glassy. The chameleon changes its colour
as well as indirect. Indirectly, it affects other according to its background.


Review Questions
1. Answer the following questions:
(i) Define biosphere.
(ii) How does humidity affect plant life?
(iii) Mention five kingdoms into which different organisms are divided.
(iv) What are the functions of fungi?
(v) What is an ecosystem?
(vi) What is a food chain?
2. Distinguish between:
(i) First order consumers and second order consumers;
(ii) Biotic and abiotic factors;
(iii) Food chain and food web;
(iv) Mutualism and competition.
3. Write short notes on the following:
(i) Taxonomy of organism;
(ii) Pyramid of numbers;
(iii) Balance of nature;
(iv) Energy flow in biosphere.
4. Describe the importance of abiotic factors in biosphere.
5. Mention various kinds of diversities which you observe in the world today.

Project Work
Divide organisms into five kingdoms. Write about their characteristics, types and functions. Also
draw their sketches.