Learn what climate is, and how not to confuse it with weather. Once you understand what a climate is, figure out what type of climate you live in by going over examples of Earth’s different climate types.
Climate vs. Weather
If you watch the news you’ve almost assuredly heard the topic of climate change come up at some point.
But what exactly is ‘climate,’ anyway? You probably have a vague idea that it has something to do with weather; however, climate isn’t something you’re going to find on the five-day weather forecast.Weather tells us the atmospheric conditions around us for a brief amount of time, and it can change rapidly. The weather can be foggy in the morning, sunny at noon, and rainy in the evening. This doesn’t mean, however, that the climate changed from foggy to sunny and then to rainy over the course of a day.
Climate is the longstanding average weather of an area. It doesn’t describe the weather changes that happen over the course of days, weeks, or even months. It characterizes a region’s general weather patterns that happen over the course of many years.
Specifically, thirty years is the classic length of time used to determine an area’s climate. So you could easily live in a place that is considered a dry climate, but still have a week of heavy rain.
Climates of Earth
You’re probably used to hearing in the news that Earth has a single overall climate. This is true, but it isn’t the only way we can view Earth’s climate.
When looking at specific regions of the world, we can break down the overall climate of the Earth into multiple different climate types. Let’s figure out what type of climate you live in.Do you live in a place that’s hot year-round with little rain? Then you may live in a dry climate.
As the name implies, dry climates receive less precipitation than other climates. This climate type includes some of the hottest places on the Earth, such as the Sahara desert, which had its highest temperature recorded at 56 degrees Celsius (134 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s not all deserts though, as dry climates also include grasslands like you might find in the Midwest United States or the African savanna.What if where you live is hot year-round, but you get a lot of rain? We call that a tropical climate. Tropical climates are another type of hot climate, but unlike the dry climate, they can receive a large amount of precipitation. Tropical climates include areas of the Earth where rainforests grow, such as Brazil and Hawaii.
Regions of the world that experience a monsoon season, like India and other parts of South Asia, are also part of the Earth’s tropical climates.Maybe where you live isn’t hot at all. In fact, it’s very cold year-round. The coldest regions of the planet are considered polar climates.
This of course includes the polar ice caps at the south and north poles, where little life exists. They might be less obvious, but tundras like you see in Canada or Russia are also included in the polar climate category. Unlike ice caps, tundras are rich with plant and animal life.So far we have had three examples of the more extreme climates we see on Earth. If you live in a more temperate area that experiences the four seasons, then you either live in a mild climate region or a continental climate region. Mild climates have warm summers and mild winters.
Continental climates are exclusive to the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, and have harsher winters with snow that stays on the ground for a long time. Areas around the Mediterranean Sea and the Southeastern United States are examples of mild climates, while many Eastern European countries such as Georgia and Romania have continental climates.
When learning about climate it’s important that you don’t confuse it with weather. Weather tells us the atmospheric conditions around us for a brief amount of time, while climate is the longstanding average weather of an area. Weather can change every week, day, or even hour; however, it takes a period of around thirty years to determine a region’s climate.
The Earth’s overall climate can be broken down into several different climate types. Dry climates are hot with little precipitation, and include areas of the Earth that have deserts or grasslands. Tropical climates are hot and can have a lot of precipitation.
Regions that include rainforests or have monsoon seasons are examples of tropical climates. Polar climates are the coldest of all of Earth’s climate types. Ice caps and tundras are both found where we have polar climates.
Mild climates are one of two temperate climate types on Earth. They experience all four seasons with warm summers and mild winters. The other temperate climate type belongs to continental climates.
This climate type is unique to the Northern Hemisphere of the globe, and has harsher winters with snow that sticks around.