5A1: Investigating Australia’s Physical Environments


Weather varies greatly from day to day. By weather, we mean the immediate physical condition of the lower atmosphere in a particular locality; its warmth, its wetness, its windiness, its cloudiness and so on.

We notice, for example, that temperatures of the air measured with a thermometer at 9 am each day in our backyard change dramatically over the period of say one week whereas temperatures measured in the nearby ocean or in the soil at our feet are much less changeable.  Because atmospheric conditions vary so greatly it is a very challenging task, requiring the best scientific methods available (Plate 1), to predict for our human purposes the kind of weather conditions we can reasonably expect for more than a few days ahead.
Figure 1:  Meteorologists are continually improving the technology they use to accurately and consistently measure aspects of our daily weather. This photo shows a Stevenson Screen used to house thermometers for measuring air temperature. Gradually, traditional mercury-thermometers are being supplemented by temperature-sensing probes and electronic devices that can automatically record the temperature and other weather variables at frequent, regular, time intervals (Source: Wikipedia  [Accessed 10 /09/08]).

Australian Curriculum links

The distribution and characteristics of biomes as regions with distinctive climates, soils, vegetation and productivity (ACHGK060)

The challenges to food production, including land and water degradation, shortage of fresh water, competing land uses, and climate change, for Australia and other areas of the world  (ACHGK063)

(ACHGK064) The capacity of the world’s environments to sustainably feed the projected future population to achieve food security for Australia and the world

Year 10

(ACHGK073) The application of human-environment systems thinking to understanding the causes and likely consequences of the environmental change being investigated

(ACHGK074) The application of geographical concepts and methods to the management of the environmental change being investigated