Climate Facts



  • Climate is the typical weather of a place over a long time.
  • Climates are warm near the Equator, where the Sun climbs high in the sky.
  • Tropical climates are warm climates in the tropical zones on either side of the Equator. Average temperatures of 27°C are typical.
  • The climate is cool near the Poles, where the Sun never climbs high in the sky. Average temperatures of —30°C are typical.
  • Temperate climates are mild climates in the temperate zones between the tropics and the polar regions. Summer temperatures may average 23°C. Winter temperatures may average 12°C.
  • A Mediterranean climate is a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters. It is typical of the Mediterranean, California, South Africa and South Australia.
  • A monsoon climate is a climate with one wet and one dry season — typical of India and SE Asia.
  • An oceanic climate is a wetter climate near oceans, with cooler summers and warmer winters.
  • A continental climate is a drier climate in the centre of continents, with hot summers and cold winters.
  • Mountain climates get colder and windier with height.
  • One Milankovitch cycle is the way the Earth’s axis wobbles round like a top every 21,000 years. Another is the way its axis tilts like a rolling ship every 40,000 years. A third is the way its orbit gets more or less oval shaped every 96,000 years.
  • Climate may also be affected by dark patches on the Sun called sunspots. These flare up and down every 11 years.
  • Sunspot activity is linked to stormy weather on the Earth.
  • Climates may cool when the air is filled with dust from volcanic eruptions or meteors hitting the Earth.
  • Climates may get warmer when levels of certain gases in the air increase.
  • Local climates may change as continents drift around. Antarctica was once in the tropics, while the New York area once had a tropical desert climate.
  • When more sunspots form on the Sun’s surface, the weather on the Earth may be stormier.
  • Tree rings can be used to tell what the weather has been like in the past. In wet periods the rings are thick and in dry periods the rings are thin.
  • The world’s climate is changing all the time, getting warmer, colder, wetter or drier. There are many theories why this happens.
  • One way to see how climate changed before weather records were kept is to look at the growth rings in old trees.
  • Another way of working out past climate is to look in ancient sediments for remains of plants and animals that only thrive in certain conditions.
  • One cause of climate change may be shifts in the Earth’s orientation to the Sun. These shifts are called Milankovitch cycles.
  • One Milankovitch cycle is the way the Earth’s axis wobbles round like a top every 21,000 years. Another is the way its axis tilts like a rolling ship every 40,000 years. A third is the way its orbit gets more or less oval shaped every 96,000 years.