Saturday, 3 November 2012

Elements and Factors of the Different Kinds of Climate in the World and Mexico


Climate (from Greek Klima) is defined as certain conditions of temperature, dryness, wind, light, etc. of a region. Different regions of the world have diverse characteristic climates. A place or region's climate is determined by both natural and manmade factors. The natural elements include the atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere; while the human factors can include land use and consumption of other natural resources. Changes in any of these factors can cause local, regional, or even global changes in the climate.

The relationship between People, Climate and Buildings is non- linear and complexly interdependent. Climate also affects the use of land, the type of crop that can be grown or the animal husbandry that can be practiced. These variations in the use of land can cause regional climatic changes- such as the spread of desert conditions due to deforestation. Microclimate variations can be caused by presence of trees, grass and water. Built up areas and cities would tend to have their own microclimate which would differ significantly from the climate of the region. Ground reflecting surfaces and artificial topographical features can affect wind flow, solar radiation and hence temperature patterns. It is now established that the consumption of energy in cities for buildings and transport etc. can make very significant changes to temperature.

Q. How does climate differ from weather ?

A. Weather is the current atmospheric conditions, including temperature, rainfall, wind, humidity and sky conditions at a given place. Weather is that which is happening right now or is likely to happen tomorrow or in the very near future. Climate on the other hand, is the general weather conditions over a long period of time. Climate is sometimes referred to as "average" weather for a given area. In totality, climate is the sum of all the statistical weather information that helps describe a place or region.

Climatic Zones

The world has several climatic zones. These are summarised on the map below.


(Image courtesy of the UK Meteorological Office)

The classification is based on maximum and minimum temperatures and the temperature range as well as the total and seasonal distribution of precipitation.



Simple summary of climatic zones:

Polar - very cold and dry all year
Temperate - cold winters and mild summers
Arid - dry, hot all year
Tropical - hot and wet all year
Mediterranean - mild winters, dry hot summers
Mountains (
tundra)- very cold all year


What is precipitation?

Precipitation is any form of moisture which falls to the earth. This includes rain, snow, hail and sleet.

Precipitation occurs when water vapour cools. When the air reaches saturation point (also known as condensation point and dew point) the water vapour condenses and forms tiny droplets of water. These tiny droplets of water from clouds.

Complex forces cause the water droplets to fall as rainfall.

All rain is the same. It happens as the result of warm, moist air being cooled, leading to condensation and in turn rain. The following examples show three different ways air is cooled causing rainfall.


Weather experienced during a winter anticyclone
Weather experienced during a summer anticyclone
In winter the skies are cloudless so heat is allowed to escape. Therefore temperatures are usually very cold. The ground cools rapidly at night so frost often forms. Fog can also form as the cold air makes water vapour condense into tiny droplets. Fog can last long into the day as there is insufficient heat from the sun to evaporate the water droplets away.
Summer anticyclones bring very different weather. As the air descends it is heated causing water in the air to evaporate. Therefore there are few clouds in the air. The skies are clear allowing the suns rays to reach the surface of the earth. This causes temperatures to rise. Heat waves can occur if anticyclones remain over Britain for a number of weeks.

At the geographic world map level, the Zonal classification is based on maximum and minimum temperatures and the temperature range as well as the total and seasonal distribution of precipitation. A simple summary of climatic zones is as follows:

Summary of climate zones

Climate zone



very cold and dry all year


cold winters and mild summers


dry, hot all year


hot and wet all year


mild winters, dry hot summers
Mountains (Tundra)
very cold all year

Köppen Climate Classification Map

Many attempts have been made to classify the many disparate climates on Earth into a comprehensive and comprehensible system. One of the earliest began with Aristotle and his discussion of Temperate, Torrid, and Frigid Zones. The system that seems to be in almost universal use now is the Köppen system, developed by German climatologist and amateur botanist Wladimir Koppen in 1928.

The modified Koppen system uses letters to denote the six major climate regions and their 24 sub-classifications. These regions are based on average monthly temperature and precipitation values. Whilst it does not take full account of factors such as cloudiness, solar radiation, wind or even extremes in temperature, it still remains a useful system.

The Koppen World Climate Classification Map shows that not only is climate geographically diverse at the broad scale, defined by the latitude within which a region lies, there is considerable diversity of climate within these broad scale regions.

In Europe, the Climates along the Mediterranean and towards the East are much warmer and brighter than those towards the North and West.

The Indian subcontinent also shows considerable diversity from the West to East from the North to South ranging from desert to equatorial. (See Climate Zones Map India). Even a small island of Srilanka has three distinct climatic zones.
Within the same climatic zone, some locations may have contrasting or variable climatic conditions.


The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Russian German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936. Later, German climatologist Rudolf Geiger collaborated with Köppen on changes to the classification system, which is thus sometimes referred to as the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system. The system is based on the concept that native vegetation is the best expression of climate. Thus, climate zone boundaries have been selected with vegetation distribution in mind. It combines average annual and monthly temperatures and precipitation, and the seasonality of precipitation


Koppen Climate Classification Chart

Tropical humid
Tropical wet
No dry season
Tropical monsoonal
Short dry season; heavy monsoonal rains in other months
Tropical savanna
Winter dry season
Subtropical desert
Low-latitude desert
Subtropical steppe
Low-latitude dry
Mid-latitude desert
Mid-latitude desert
Mid-latitude steppe
Mid-latitude dry
Mild Mid-Latitude
Mild with dry, hot summer
Mild with dry, warm summer
Humid subtropical
Mild with no dry season, hot summer
Humid subtropical
Mild with dry winter, hot summer
Marine west coast
Mild with no dry season, warm summer
Marine west coast
Mild with no dry season, cool summer
Severe Mid-Latitude
Humid continental
Humid with severe winter, no dry season, hot summer
Humid continental
Humid with severe winter, no dry season, warm summer
Humid continental
Humid with severe, dry winter, hot summer
Humid continental
Humid with severe, dry winter, warm summer
Severe winter, no dry season, cool summer
Severe, very cold winter, no dry season, cool summer
Severe, dry winter, cool summer
Severe, very cold and dry winter, cool summer
Polar tundra, no true summer
Ice Cap
Perennial ice



Elements that Determine Climate


  • Dry climates can experience wet weather.
Precipitation is simply any water form that falls to the Earth from overhead cloud formations. As an element of weather, precipitation determines whether outdoor activities are suitable or if the water levels of creeks and rivers will rise. As an element of climate, precipitation is a long-term, predictable factor of a region's makeup. For instance, a desert may experience a storm (weather) though it remains a typically dry area (climate).


  • The humid climate of jungles determines what life forms will thrive.
Humidity is the measurable amount of moisture in the air of the lower atmosphere. The humidity element of weather makes the day feel hotter and can be used to predict coming storms. However, the humidity element of climate is the prolonged moisture level of an area that can affect entire ecosystems. For instance, tropical jungles can sustain different forms of life than dry, arid climates because of the overall humidity from rainfall and other factors. This is an aspect of climate rather than weather, in that the typically high humidity levels of these regions is predictable over periods of decades.


  • Weather can sometimes occur outside of a climate's typical range
Temperature is simply the measurement of how hot or cold a region is on a day-to-day basis. The weather aspect of temperature can change throughout the day, however, it generally falls within a certain range of predictable highs and lows (as climate). Cold snaps and heat waves are weather that affect the temperatures of particular climates. For example, a heat wave in northern Siberia is an aspect of weather affecting a climate that is typically considered to be cold. The weather in this case (the heat wave) is simply happening inside of a climate (the normal cold range of Siberian temperatures).

Atmospheric Pressure

  • Atmospheric pressure is a large part of coastal and island climate
Atmospheric pressure is basically the "weight" of the air. It is used primarily by meteorologists to monitor developing storms that can seem to come out of nowhere. While typically considered an aspect of weather, certain regions of the world exist in zones where changing atmospheric pressures form part of the predictable climate. Because of their proximity to large bodies of water (a major factor in atmospheric pressure changes), places like coastal regions and islands experience severe storms on a regular basis.

Meteorological Phenomena

  • Fog, in most cases, is unpredictable
Tornadoes, hail storms and fog are all examples of meteorological phenomena that are hard to predict. As an element of weather, these occurrences can seem random and are a result of a set of unique circumstances. However, some regions of the world can factor meteorological phenomena into their climate. For instance, the American Midwest's "Tornado Alley" (tornadoes), the Great Lakes region (lake effect snow), and places like London (fog) and Bangladesh (drastic and rapid climate changes) have these occurrences so often that they are an almost predictable part of the region's climate.
Factors that Determine Climate
Latitude, elevation, and jet streams are the three general factors determining climate. Several other factors play a role, as well: amount of wind, timing and amount of annual rainfall, location of mountain ranges (which, in turn, has some influence on the preceding two factors), and the proximity of large bodies of water.
The farther north of the equator a place is, the colder its winters are likely to be, and the longer the wintry weather is likely to last. Winter may arrive early, too--as shown in the photo at right.
Altitude (elevation)
The higher your elevation, the cooler the temperatures will be, in both winter and summer. The growing season is usually shorter, as well.
Jet streams
The strong, fast high-altitude air currents known as jet streams affect climate by picking up air of all types--moist, dry, warm, cold--and carrying it to other areas. The jet streams tend to dip farther south in winter and move more to the north in summer, following the movement of the sun. The predictable storms that follow the jet streams' path are largely responsible for the rainy and dry seasons we experience.

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