The weather can be truly unpredictable. It can change day-to-day, or even hour-to-hour. Nevertheless, we can still notice certain weather patterns. We know when to expect snow, or when to book our summer holiday. These weather patterns, distinct from one region to another, are called climate.
There are several classification systems designed for climate types. The most popular one is called the Köppen system. Wladimir Köppen was a Russian-German scientist who, in 1900, proposed a method which studies vegetation (all the plants found in an area), temperature, and precipitation to group different climate regions.There are five climate groups, each of them is further divided into types.
The tropical climate is hot and humid, usually with an abundant rainfall. This high level of temperature is maintained with little variation throughout the year.
There are three types of tropical climate:
Tropical wet climates are unique for places known as rain forests. These regions are located around the equator, and have the most predictable weather pattern of all – temperatures are consistently high throughout the year, and rain falls regularly.
Places with tropical wet climate are, for example, Hawaii, or Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
A monsoon is a wind in southern Asia that brings heavy rains in the summer.
Tropical monsoon climates are characterized by this wind system, called monsoon, which changes its direction twice a year – from sea to land in the summer, and from land to sea in the winter.
In places with tropical monsoon climates like India and Bangladesh, people's crops growth relies on the seasonal rains brought by summer monsoons.
Tropical wet and dry climates have three seasons:
Cuba and parts of Africa can experience drought when very little rain falls, or floods when there is too much rain.
Dry climate is specific for regions with low precipitation (rain and snow). Based on how much rain falls, there are two dry climate types: arid and semiarid.
Arid means very dry and with little or no rain.
Arid climates are unique for deserts and cover nearly 33% of the planet.
Some of the hottest places on Earth, like Libya, where the temperature reached 136° F (58° C), have an arid climate.
To be categorized as an arid climate type, a region must receive less than 10 inches (25.4 cm) of rain per year, although many of them do not get that much rain in 10 years!
Semi means half or partly.
Semi-arid climates are the next driest type of climate. They receive slightly more rainfall – 10-20 inches (25-50cm) per year.
Semi-arid climates are further split into two types: hot and cold. The regions with semiarid climates always surround arid climate regions.
There is sometimes enough rain to support farming, but often there is drought. The city of Denver in Colorado is a representative of this climate type.
Mild or temperate means not too hot and not too cold.
Temperate climates are those without extremes of temperature and precipitation (rain and snow). These areas are usually mid-way between the equator and the poles. They are often found near a warm ocean or sea.
There are three types of mild climates:
The Mediterranean type's characteristics are warm summers with little or no rain, and short, mild winters. Places with this climate are located along the Mediterranean Sea.
Humid subtropical climates have more rain, spread throughout the year, and colder winters. Sometimes, big storms and even hurricanes can occur. These places include Sydney in Australia and Shanghai in China.
Marine means relating to the sea.
The Marine West Coast type, typically found on western coasts of continents, is affected by the presence of mountains. The temperatures in places like Seattle, the US, or Wellington, New Zealand (which have this climate type) do not change much.
In addition, there is an abundance of precipitation throughout the year, and the sky is often cloudy.
In continental climate zones, winters are colder and longer, and the differences in weather conditions from one season to another are more drastic. In general, all three continental climate types are only found in the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe, Russia, and North America.
This type of climate is called continental because it is typical of the interior of a continent, where there are no nearby oceans to moderate weather conditions.
The humid continental climate type is defined by four seasons. Summer is warm, rainy, and humid, fall is cool and dry, winter is harsh and cold and, and spring is warm and wet.
Most of Eastern Europe has this climate.
Places in the European part of Russia, which have cool summer climates, traditionally witness very low temperatures and snow in the winter, and mild, cool summers.
Alaska, Scandinavia, Siberia, and parts of Canada have subarctic climates, known for very long, dark, cold winters, and short summers.
Polar means "connected with the North or South Pole or near them". The polar climate is found near the Poles.
There are two types of polar climates: the tundra and the ice cap. These climate types have the lowest temperatures on Earth.
A tundra is a large, flat area of land with only low growing plants. It is found in very cold regions of earth. Tree growth is difficult there because of the cold temperatures.
Tundra climates are found along the coast of the Arctic Ocean in the north. They have short and mild summers, but are still very rich in animal and plant life. These are the places where polar bears and reindeers live.
The ice cap is a layer of ice covering parts of the earth around the North and South Poles.
Very few organisms can survive in the ice cap climate. Both the Arctic (the North Pole and its surroundings) and Antarctic (the South Pole and its surroundings) have this climate type. It is not uncommon that everything stays frozen even during the summer, and there is very little rain.
When it comes to animals, penguins are known to be fond of this climate type.
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