Plate Tectonics Chart

1) How does the motion of the tectonic plates affect the climate? Climate can be affected by many things. One of the biggest affects may be the motion of the tectonic plates. The Earths plates have been in motion approximately since its beginnings or shortly after, continuously causing climate to change. The Earth’s movement of plates as well as the apparent polar wandering can both play a role in this change. J. Adems thermodynamic meteorologic model traces the evolution of climate from the Triassic time period to the current time period.

According to the results of this model “the gross changes of climate in the Northern Hemisphere can be fully explained by the strong cooling in high latitudes as continents moved poleward” (Donn, 2013). Today we continue to see climate changes around the world. There are many factors contributing to such changes however, the constant motion of the plates causing continents to drift is having a large impact on climate. Plate movement also contributes to increased volcanic activity. When a volcano erupts it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which can cause global temperatures to rise. While this may not be a significant affect it is an example of how the motion of the tectonic plates can affect the climate.

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2) How does the motion of the tectonic plates affect the geography? It is known that when the Earths plates move, then interact with one another. The movement of these plates known as plate tectonics and their interactions have great affects on the geography of the Earth. “Over millions of years, it has restructured and relocated continents, built mountain ranges, opened up new oceans where none were before, and closed oceans that were once the size of today’s Atlantic Ocean” (Merali & Skinner, 009). There are three different types of plate interactions known as plate margins. These margins are convergent margins, divergent margins, and transform fault margins.

Each of these different plate margins can affect the geography of the Earth as well as the type of plate (oceanic or continental). Convergent margins occur when two plates move towards each other. This occurs when an oceanic plate splits or fractures causing one of the fractured pieces to sink and eventually slide under the other plate leading to the development of magma. This is only one of many examples showing how plate movement affects geography. Divergent margins can create large valleys which can eventually creating ocean basins. Transform fault margins or the sliding of the plates past one another can also affect the geography which is clear when considering the San Andreas Fault (Merali & Skinner, 2009). These are just single examples of how plate movement and each of the margins can affect the geography.

3) How does the motion of the tectonic plates affect the distribution of organisms? The motion of the tectonic plates has shown to affect the distribution of organisms, In fact, it is one of the pieces of evidence that supports the theory of plate tectonics. Fossilized plants and animals have been discovered on various continents which suggests that the continents were once joined together since the ideas that they traveled by wind or water across oceans is highly unlikely. Fossils pertaining to the motion of the tectonic plates are not only found on different continents but are also found within the same continent. For example a fossilized tropical plant found in North America suggests that the area may have once been part of a tropical climate that change due to the drifting of the plates.

Donn,W.L. (2013). GEoScienceWorld. Retrievedfrom WILEY PLUS: Merali, Z., & Skinner, B. J. (2009). Visualizing Earth science. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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