Temperate climate

The different geographical zones of the world. The temperate zones span from either north or south of the subtropics (north of the yellow dotted line, at 40 degrees north) to the polar circles.

In geography, the temperate or tepid climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes, which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth.[1] These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the year and more distinct seasonal changes compared to tropical climates, where such variations are often small. They typically feature four distinct seasons, Summer the warmest, Autumn the transitioning season to Winter, the colder season, and Spring the transitioning season from winter back into summer. In the northern hemisphere, the year starts with winter, transitions in the first halfyear through spring into summer, which is in mid-year, then at the second halfyear through autumn into winter at year-end. In the southern hemisphere, the seasons are swapped, with summer in between years and winter in mid-year.

The temperate zones (latitudes from 23.5° to the polar circles at about 66.5°, north and south) are where the widest seasonal changes occur, with most climates found in it having some influence from both the tropics and the poles. The subtropics (latitudes from about 23.5° to 35°, north and south) have temperate climates that have the least seasonal change and the warmest in winter, while at the other end, Boreal climates located from 55 to 65 north latitude have the most seasonal changes and long and severe winters.

In temperate climates, not only do latitudinal positions influence temperature changes, but sea currents, prevailing wind direction, continentality (how large a landmass is), and altitude also shape temperate climates.

The Köppen climate classification defines a climate as "temperate" when the mean temperature is above −3 °C (26.6 °F) but below 18 °C (64.4 °F) in the coldest month. However, in more recent climate classifications climatologists use the 0 °C (32.0 °F) line .[2][3]

Zones and climates

The north temperate zone extends from (approximately 23.5° north) to the Arctic Circle (approximately 66.5° north latitude). The south temperate zone extends from (approximately 23.5° south) to the Antarctic Circle (at approximately 66.5° south).[4][5]

In some climate classifications, the temperate zone is often divided into several smaller climate zones, based on monthly temperatures, the coldest month, and rainfall. These include humid subtropical climate, Mediterranean climate, oceanic, and continental climate.


These are the climates that are typically found at southernmost portion of the temperate zone between 23.5° and 35° north or south, and thus are far more influenced by the tropics than any other tepid climate type, usually having warmer temperatures over the year, longer summers and mild, short winters. Freezing precipitation is less common in this portion of the temperate zone.

Humid Subtropical (Cfa)

Regions where the Humid (Cfa) and Dry-Winter Subtropical (Cwa) climates are found.

Humid Subtropical climates generally have long, hot and humid summers with convective showers in summer and a peak seasonal rainfall in the hottest months. Winters are normally mild in the humid subtropics, and warm ocean currents normally are found in coastal areas with humid subtropical climates. This type of climate is normally located in along leeward southeastern corners of the continents such as in southeast of South America (Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil), China, The United States, South Africa, eastern Australia and parts of southern Europe (in modified form) namely the Pó Valley of northern Italy.

Monsoonal Subtropical (Cwa)

Monsoonal Subtropical climates are the ones with a marked winter dry/drier season with rainfall usually in the warmest months with the coming of monsoons from humid tropical zones. Are usually found at the edges of predominantly Humid Subtropical regions nearby Arid and Semi-Arid climates, less influenced by the humid tropics and warm oceans, such as southeastern China and Northern India or High altitude areas in the Tropical and Subtropical zone, such as the highlands of Mexico, South America and Sub-saharan Africa

Mediterranean (Csa, Csb)

Regions where the Dry Summer Subtropical or Mediterranean Climates are found.

Mediterranean Climates, opposite to the monsoonal variety have a dry summer, with rainfall on the winter and cooler months. They occur mostly at the western edges and coasts of the continents and are bounded by arid deserts on their equatorward sides that cause the dry season of summer, and oceanic climates to the poleward sides that are influenced by warm and humid ocean currents and air masses that bring the rainfall of winter. The five main mediterranean regions of the world are the Mediterranean Sea basin in northwestern Afro-Eurasia, the west coast of North America specially California, the southwest of South America namely Argentina and Chile, the Western Cape of South Africa and the south and southwestern coast of Australia.

Subtropical/Tropical Highland (Cfb, Cwb)

These are variants of the subtropical climates found in high altitude plateaus or montane systems either in the tropics or subtropics, they have characteristically mild temperatures year round, featuring the four seasons in the subtropics and no marked seasons in the tropics, the latter usually remaining mild to cool through most of the year.


These occur in the middle latitudes, between 35° and 55° north and south and are the ones with the most of practically equal influence from the equator and the poles, and the most characteristic temperate climates with the typical distinct four season pattern. In these the temperatures remain relatively cool through most of the year as opposed to mild and warm in the subtropics and cold in the subpoles.

Oceanic (Cfb)

The Oceanic climates are created by the onshore flow from the cool high latitude oceans to their west. This causes the climate to have cool summers and cool (but not cold) winters, and relative humidity and precipitation evenly distributed along the year. These climates are frequently cloudy, and are fairly milder both in winter and summer in comparison to other temperate climates. Annual rainfall is spread throughout the entire year. Regions with this climate include Northwestern Europe, Northwestern North America, southeastern and southwestern South America, southeastern Australia and most of New Zealand.

Continental (Dfa, Dwa, Dsa, Dfb, Dwb, Dsb)

The Continental climates, as opposed to the oceanic climates have strikingly extreme seasonal differences. With less moderating effect from ocean currents and more influence from tropical and polar large-size continental land air-masses they feature more extreme temperatures in each respective season, with summers getting as hot as those of subtropical or tropical climates and winters as cold as in subpolar climates. They are almost exclusively found only on the northern hemisphere, because this is where there is a large enough landmass to generate extremes in seasonal temperatures. This climate type is found in northeast Asia, the north-central and north- eastern United States and southern Canada, and Eurasia, in eastern, central and northern Europe.


These are temperate climates that opposite to the subtropicals are on the poleward edge of the temperate zone, therefore still have four marked seasons including a warmer one, but are far more influenced by the poles than any other but the very polar climates (Tundra and Icecap).

Subpolar-Oceanic (Cfc, Cwc, Csc)

Areas with subpolar oceanic climates feature an oceanic climate but are usually located closer to polar regions. As a result of their location, these regions tend to be on the cool end of oceanic climates. Snowfall tends to be more common here than in other oceanic climates. Subpolar oceanic climates are less prone to temperature extremes than subarctic climates or continental climates, featuring milder winters than these climates. This variant of an oceanic climate is found in parts of coastal Iceland, the Faroe Islands, parts of Scotland, northwestern coastal areas of Norway such as Lofoten and reaching to 70°N on some islands, uplands near the coast of southwestern Norway, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and northern parts of the Alaskan Panhandle, the far south of Chile and Argentina, and a few highland areas of Tasmania, and the Australian and Southern Alps. This type of climate is even found in the very remote parts of the Papuan Highlands in Indonesia. The classification used for this regime is Cfc. In the most marine of those areas affected by this regime, temperatures above 20 °C (68 °F) are extreme weather events, even in the midst of summer. Temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) have been recorded on rare occasions in some areas of this climate, and in winter temperatures down to −20 °C (−4 °F) have seldom been recorded in some areas.

Boreal/Subarctic (Dfc, Dwc, Dsc, Dfd, Dwd, Dsd)

Mostly north of Humid Continental zones this climate features extremely cold and long winters, with short mild summers. In very small areas at high altitudes around the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Alaska and other parts of the northwestern United States (Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon and Southern Idaho) and Russian South-Eastern regions the climate is classified as Dsc with a dry summer climate, such as in Seneca, Oregon or Atlin, British Columbia. This is the closest to the polar climates of all four-season temperate climates as practically all of the year is set up by extremely low temperatures, except for summer.