What is climate?

The climate is a concept used by most people, but its definition is not always well known. In simple terms, the climate is the average weather conditions of an area during a long time, which are the result of several factors present in that zone. The climate varies from one region to another but must follow a fairly consistent pattern.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate is the statistical description of the mean and variability of the weather over a span of time ranging from months to thousands or even millions of years. All this means, the average weather during a long time.

The UK Meteorological Office’s glossary mentions that the climate of a locality is the synthesis of the values of the day-to-day weather elements affecting that place. The word climate comes from the Greek word “klima” which means “area.”

The climate factors measured are rainfall, maximum, and minimum temperatures during a season, humidity, sunshine time, and so on.

What factors influence climate?

Latitude, altitude, topography, water bodies and other factors determine the climate of a geographic region. The angle of the sun’s rays, for example, affects how warm the environment is. People living in the tropics knows that certain days of the year the sun is positioned directly above his head at noon, causing a hot climate with small temperature changes between summer and winter.

The UK Meteorological Office lists the following influence factors of the climate of a zone: altitude, prevailing wind, distance from the sea, oceanic currents, topography, vegetation, and type of area (urban or rural).

What are the elements of climate?

Various elements make up the climate of a region, but the following are the most common:

Temperature is the amount of heat energy that is in the air. Its measure unit is Celsius degrees or Fahrenheit degrees in some countries. Heat is the energy radiated from the Sun to the Earth in the form of light. Clouds, water vapor, and atmospheric dust deflect about half of the solar energy back into space, while the rest is absorbed by the soil and water and becomes heat.

The temperature is characterized by its variation during a day due to Earth’s rotation and during the annual seasons due to the translational motion of the Earth around the sun.

It is a process that ends with the fall of water, in liquid or solid form, to the earth’s surface. A large percentage of rainfall drains into lakes and rivers while the rest evaporates from the earth’s surface or passes through plants. The latter process is known as evapotranspiration and is part of the water cycle.

It is the water vapor contained in the air. Its amount varies according to to the amount of rainfall and solar radiation in a zone. 
Water vapor is present in any region of the world, even the hottest ones. As the temperature increases, so does the possibility of having water vapor.

What are the elements of climate?

Atmospheric pressure.
It is the force exerted on a given surface due to the weight of the atmosphere. It varies vertically; the values decrease as you ascend in altitude.


The number of clouds in the atmosphere is also an element of climate. Clouds form when humid air cools down to its dew point, and water droplets or ice attach to small particles of dust, ash, or other contaminants.


The Wind is the moving air. It causes variations in climate by drying humidity, causing storms, and contributing to water evaporation.

Solar radiation.

Although it is an unseen element, it significantly impacts climate by providing heat. The amount of sunlight the ground receives is called insolation.

Quick Facts.

Estimations determine that the average surface air temperature will increase between 1.4°C and 5.8°C by 2100.

Rainfall and water vapor are also expected to increase along with this warming.

What is a monsoon? This word comes from the Arabic word “mausim” (or Mausam) that means “season” and commonly refers to the reversing of winds in the ocean located between the Arabian Sea and India that changes the precipitation pattern of the zone.

Broadly speaking, monsoons are significant variations in the direction of the strongest winds of a region, during a season. Thus, they are responsible for seasonal changes and torrential rains in areas with hot and humid climates, like South and Southeast Asia, but they can also happen in other parts of the world like Australia, West Africa, and even America.

A broader definition describes a thermal effect caused by heat differences between large landmasses and seas. In the tropics, monsoons bring moisture and the seasons become dryer, but as there are various monsoon systems on the planet, the seasons they cause vary. For example, in northern Australia, monsoon season extends from December to March, while in parts of India and Southeast Asia, summer monsoons and winter monsoons significantly influence the climate in the region.

Monsoons are the result of temperature differences between land and sea because the heat from solar radiation.

Causes of Monsoons

Monsoons are the result of temperature differences between land and sea because the heat from solar radiation. It happens because the land and the ocean waters absorb heat differently. During the hot season, the surface of the land warms faster than water, a difference that causes a low-pressure area over land and higher pressure at sea.

In all cases, winds blow from the sea toward warm areas, which get loaded with moisture, and this, is what causes abundant and frequent rains because this moist air rises and returns to the sea but while being on the Earth’s surface it cools and reduces its capacity to retain water.

Effects of monsoons.
Monsoon in Ratangad, India.

We can identify three mechanisms that cause monsoons:

1. Heat and the cooling differential between land and water.

2. Wind deflection. This phenomenon is a result of the Coriolis effect, which is due to Earth’s rotation, causing winds in the Northern Hemisphere to deflect to the right, and winds in the Southern Hemisphere to diverge to the left.

3. Heat exchange, or energy exchange that occurs as water changes from liquid to gas or gas to liquid.

Asian monsoons are the most popular. In the south, monsoon season runs from April to September. Note that in this particular part of the planet, solar radiation hits vertically during the summer so hot air rises and creates an area of low pressure over Central Asia. Meanwhile, the water in the Indian Ocean is relatively cold, creating a high-pressure area.

Such temperature difference causes the air from the ocean to move toward South and Southeast Asia because the wind moves from an area of high pressure toward an area of low pressure. Then during autumn, water and land begin to cool, but the latter loses heat faster than the ocean, so during winter, the Indian Ocean becomes a low-pressure area.

In Australia, the monsoon season arrives when the wind gets loaded with moisture from the Indian Ocean, moving toward the north of the country. Additionally, America is hit once a year by the summer monsoon. It happens the same time that the Asian monsoon, but in a different region: the temperature difference occurs between the land and the Pacific Ocean and it usually affects parts of Mexico along the Sierra Madre Occidental, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California, and western Texas.

Torrential rains can have adverse effects such as flooding and landslides.


The straight effect of the monsoons is the abundance and intensity of precipitation. Torrential rains can have adverse effects such as flooding and landslides that often cause destruction in urban and rural areas, and sometimes death of people in that region.

However, rains have a positive side as well, as some economic activities depend on monsoon season in South and Southeast Asia. For example, many farmers rely on monsoon rains for growing rice, tea, and other important produces, and aquifers replenish guaranteeing fresh water supplies for all living beings in the area, including humans.

A particular climate identifies every region of the world. The constant rains of England contrast with the aridity of North Africa and humidity in the Brazilian rainforest difference from the polar cold in the northern islands of Russia.

What do we mean by climate?

The climate is the average of meteorological variables in a given area over a prolonged period. These variables can be moisture, atmospheric pressure, rainfall, and of course temperature.

The climate is a primary element used to describe a place or region, and its crucial in detecting phenomena that are out the ordinary. When we talk about climate change, it’s common to hear that rising temperatures are changing weather patterns; this means that in some places where the climate is well known, there are anomalous changes, for example, people experience colder winters than normal or warmer summers.

Several factors influence the climate of a zone, including latitude, longitude, altitude, proximity to the sea, wind direction, and the type of terrain. Usually, as far a place is from the equator, the colder its climate tend to be. Well, in most cases, because some highland areas regardless their proximity to the equator have cold climates. The climate depends not only on one factor but a set of them.

The climate is the average of meteorological variables in a given area over a prolonged period.

Over time, there have been several classifications of climates in the world, but it’s hard to fit them into a single classification throughout history due to their versatility. However, the division of the world into climates is very useful in predicting changes in variables. In a climate classified as “wet,” it’s possible to predict a greater amount of rainfall than in temperate climates, and presumably in a given time span, a higher probability of hurricanes.

While climate classifications are varied, the following five are most common:

1. Tropical.
a. Tropical wet.
b. Tropical wet and dry.

2. Dry.
a. Semiarid.
b. Arid.

3. Moderate.
a. Mediterranean.
b. Humid subtropical.
c. Marine west coast.

4. Continental.
a. Humid continental.
b. Subarctic.

5. Polar.
a. Tundra.
b. Ice cap.
c. Highlands.

Each of the five major types has more particular types of climates as described above. Other experts on the subject include more types such as mountainous.

climate or weather?

Are climate and weather the same thing?

It is a common mistake, but climate and weather are entirely different concepts. Weather is a particular condition in a place and can change over hours, days, months, or a few years, but climate is the average weather pattern over time. That is, a tropical climate is described over several years and is characterized, among other things, by rains that may be stronger or more abundant on some days than others and during the afternoon the temperatures reach 30 C, and that pattern keeps happening during years. A meteorologist, for example, intends to predict the daily weather in a specific place, which has a particular climate.

A meteorologist, intends to predict the daily weather in a specific place, which has a particular climate.

Climatic forces outline the Climate of a place over the course of thirty years, but changes can occur over the course of hundreds or thousands of years. For example, the Sahara desert has had the same climate for millennia.

If you want to learn more about this topic, please go to articles that will explain the characteristics, types, and other related topics.

The concept “climate” refers to the predominant or average weather recorded in a given area for a time long enough that all the possible weather scenarios in such area may happen. The climate is a permanent or long-time concept while the weather changes within hours. Therefore, “climate” and “weather” are different but related concepts.

The climate depends on several interrelated factors: latitude, longitude, elevation, topography, proximity to the sea and wind direction. Therefore, although the areas located near the equator are usually warm, there are mountain zones on the same latitude that are cold.

In general, there are three types of climate: warm, temperate, and polar.

Multiple Types of Climates.

In general, there are three types of climate: warm, temperate, and polar. Warm climates are found at low latitudes and are characterized by high temperatures; the inclination of sunlight is minimal. Therefore, the radiation is constant. In temperate climates, located at mid-latitudes, temperatures are usually mild to moderate, and polar climates, which occur at high latitudes, usually have temperatures below 10 °C during the warmer months; typically they are found in the polar circles.
Now these three groups have more precise climates, so it is important to know the classifications.

Climate classification.

Although there are several classifications of climate, the best known is perhaps the one made by Wladimir Köppen, a German climatologist of Russian origin who created this climate classification:

Group A: Tropical climate.

Tropical climate

a. Tropical wet.
It is a warm climate but with regular rain: the annual rainfall exceeds 150 centimeters. Temperatures vary little throughout the year.

b. Tropical wet and dry.
It is also known as tropical savannah. In this case, temperatures vary moderately, but they are usually warm to hot.

Group B: Dry climate.

Dry climate.

a. Arid.
Summers are hot, and winters are cool or warm. Rainfall is low.

b. Semiarid.
Although it is a hot climate, it is more moderate than the arid climate. Regions with this climate fall between those with an arid climate and tropical climates.

Group C: Moderate climate.

Moderate climate.

a. Mediterranean.
It is warm to hot climate. While winters are rainy, summers are dry.

b. Humid Subtropical.
Regions with this climate are usually in the eastern part of the continents. They experience hot, humid summers and colder winters. Precipitations have a regular distribution throughout the year, but hurricanes are common.

c. Marine West Coast.
They are in the western areas of the continents where the wind direction is from the sea to land. Winters range from cold to temperate, and summers are warm, with moderate rainfall most of the year. Examples of cities with this climate: Seattle, USA and Wellington, New Zealand.

Group D: Continental climate.

Continental climate.

a. Humid Continental.
Regions with this climate have moderate to hot summers and cold winters. Throughout the year, the temperature difference can range from – 3°C to 22°C. Most of Eastern Europe has a humid continental climate.

b. Subarctic.
An area with this climate has cool summers and cold winters. Most of the rainfall occurs during the summer. This climate is present in northern Scandinavia and Siberia.

Group E: Polar Climate.

Polar climate.
Low temperatures are the rule throughout the year, although there are variations.

a. Tundra.
This climate is dry, and permafrost, a layer of ice, regularly covers the soil. It locates in the northern limits of North America, parts of Russia, and of course, the edges of Antarctica.

b. Ice cap.
It is the coldest weather on Earth, with temperatures that are rarely below freezing point. It is present in Greenland and most of the Antarctic continent.

Group H: Highland climate.

Highland climate.
Sometimes, this climate is included in the above group (E), but other authors consider it as an individual climate (H).

It is present at very high altitudes in mountainous terrain. Areas with this climate experience rapid elevation changes, causing rapid climate changes over short distances.

Quick Facts.
The driest desert in the world is the Atacama Desert in Chile. Its average annual rainfall is 0.51 millimeters.