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Climate types

Semi-arid climate: the rain shadow region of Tirunelveli, India. The southwest monsoon brings rain as far as the western ghats...Read More >>Semi-arid climate: the rain shadow region of Tirunelveli, India. The southwest monsoon brings rain as far as the western ghats mountains in Kerala (seen in the distance), while the other side, in Tamil Nadu, pictured, remains dry.Climate is the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area. It is the result of a number of factors, including that area's latitude, which affects the amount of heat it receives from the Sun, and the way that winds carry the Sun’s warmth and rain-laden clouds around the globe. Winds are themselves affected by whether the ocean currents they blow over are warm or cold, or whether a high mountain range may block their movement. It is possible to identify a number of climate types, each of which share broadly similar characteristics, that are found in different parts of the world. 


Cherry trees in blossom, as spring comes to Kitanomaru Park at Chiyoda-ku in Tokyo

Köppen climate classification

A system of classifying climates was proposed in 1900 by Russian-German scientist Wladimir Köppen. Observing that the type of vegetation in a region was closely related to its climate, Köppen used monthly average temperature and precipitation records to produce a system for classifying climates. According to his classification system, there are five major climate groups, each identified by a letter: tropical (A), dry (B), mild (C), continental (D) and polar (E). Dry climates are subdivided according to whether they are desert climates (BW) or semi-arid steppe climates (BS). Within all the groups there are variations, which are described in detail below.

Southern California has a Mediterranean climate. During the hot summer, warm air rising inland creates a low pressure area. This draws in winds from over the Pacific Ocean through the Golden Gate near San Francisco (as well as other places along the coast), creating frequent fogs.

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