Topographic Influence on Precipitation
handout exercisesuggested grade levels: 9-12
view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

The climate in Idaho varies to a large degree, especially when it comes to the amount of precipitation. There are some places in Idaho that can get up to 80 inches of rain a year while there are some places that get almost nothing. Topography is what makes this difference so great. By doing this activity, students will understand the effect that topography has on the amount of local precipitation. Students should be familiar with the rain shadow effect.

1. Students will be exposed to the Digital Atlas of Idaho.
2. Students will be able to predict how the topography will influence the amount of precipitation and area will receive.

Use the Precipitation Pattern section of the Digital Atlas of Idaho. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, Climatology, then on Precipitation Patterns. Encourage your students to explore the pages on precipitation patterns. Pay special attention to the map on the main page so they observe the differences in precipitation in different areas of Idaho. Have them answer the essay question.

These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.
clim10ho.pdf | clim10AK.pdf | Precipitation Patterns

Handout Sample:
The sample questions below are shown in the printed handout.

1. Compare and contrast the annual precipitation of the Snake River Plain with that of the Idaho panhandle area. Explain your answer in terms of area topography and its probable influence on the amount of precipitation. Do you think differences in climate have led to differences in geographic development? (consider resources, local economy, etc.)

Related Lesson Topics:
Climatology: Climatology

Lesson plan by Vita Taube, 2000
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: