Oceanic climate

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World map showing oceanic climate zones. Koppen-Geiger Map Cfb present.svg
World map showing oceanic climate zones.

An oceanic climate, also known as a marine climate, is the humid temperate climate sub-type in Köppen classification Cfb, typical of west coasts in higher middle latitudes of continents, generally featuring cool summers and mild winters (for their latitude), with a relatively narrow annual temperature range and few extremes of temperature. Oceanic climates can be found in both hemispheres normally between 40 and 55 latitude. Most notably in northwest Europe, northwest North America, as well as New Zealand.

Contents

Precipitation

Locations with oceanic climates tend to feature frequent cloudy conditions with precipitation, low hanging clouds, and frequent fronts and storms. Thunderstorms are normally few, since strong daytime heating and hot and cold air masses meet infrequently in the region. In most areas with an oceanic climate, precipitation comes in the form of rain for the majority of the year. However, some areas with this climate see some snowfall annually during winter. Most oceanic climate zones, or at least a part of them, experience at least one snowfall per year. In the poleward locations of the oceanic climate zone ("subpolar oceanic climates", described in greater detail below), snowfall is more frequent and commonplace. Severe weather is rare.

Temperature

Overall temperature characteristics of the oceanic climates feature cool temperatures and infrequent extremes of temperature. In the Köppen climate classification, oceanic climates have a mean temperature of 0 °C (32 °F) or higher (or −3 °C (27 °F) or higher) in the coldest month, compared to continental climates where the coldest month has a mean temperature of below 0 °C (32 °F) (or −3 °C (27 °F)) in the coldest month. Summers are warm but not hot, with the warmest month having a mean temperature below 22 °C (72 °F). Poleward of the latter is a subtype of it and is the subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc), [1] with long but relatively mild (for their latitude) winters and cool and short summers (average temperatures of at least 10 °C (50 °F) for one to three months). Examples of this climate include parts of coastal Iceland, the coast of Norway north of Bodø, the Scottish Highlands, the mountains of Vancouver Island, and Haida Gwaii in Canada, in the Northern Hemisphere and extreme southern Chile in the Southern Hemisphere (examples include Punta Arenas), the Tasmanian Central Highlands, and parts of New Zealand.


The cause

Oceanic climates are not necessarily found in coastal locations on the aforementioned parallels; however, in most cases oceanic climates parallel higher middle latitude oceans. [ clarification needed ] The polar jet stream, which moves in a west to east direction across the middle latitudes, advances low pressure systems, storms, and fronts. In coastal areas of the higher middle latitudes (45–60° latitude), the prevailing onshore flow creates the basic structure of most oceanic climates. Oceanic climates are a product and reflection of the cool ocean adjacent to them. In the autumn, winter, and early spring, when the polar jet stream is most active, the frequent passing of marine weather systems creates the frequent fog, cloudy skies, and light drizzle often associated with oceanic climates. In summer, high pressure often pushes the prevailing westerlies north of many oceanic climates, often creating a drier summer climate (for example in the Northwest coast of North America, bathed by the Pacific Ocean).

The North Atlantic Gulf Stream, a tropical oceanic current that passes north of the Caribbean and up the East Coast of the United States to North Carolina, then heads east-northeast to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, is thought to greatly modify the climate of Northwest Europe. [2] As a result of the North Atlantic Current, west coast areas located in high latitudes like Ireland, the UK, and Norway have much milder winters (for their latitude) than would otherwise be the case. The lowland attributes of western Europe also help drive marine air masses into continental areas, enabling cities such as Dresden, Prague, and Vienna to have maritime climates in spite of being located well inland from the ocean.

Locations

London, United Kingdom
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Source: Met Office [3]

Europe

Oceanic climates in Europe occur mostly in Western Europe. It starts in northwestern Europe, from Ireland and Great Britain eastward to central Europe. Most of France (away from the Mediterranean), Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, western Germany, south coast and western areas of Norway north to Skrova Lofoten, several parts of Czech Republic, the north coast of Spain (Asturias, Basque Country, Cantabria, Galicia and north of Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia [4] ), the western Azores off the coast of Portugal, the north of Serbia and southern portions of Sweden, also have oceanic climates.

Examples of oceanic climates are found in Glasgow, London, Bergen, Amsterdam, Dublin, Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Bilbao, Oviedo, Biarritz, A Coruña, Bayonne, Zürich, Copenhagen, Prague, Skagen, and Paris. With decreasing distance to the Mediterranean Sea, the oceanic climate of northwest Europe gradually changes to the subtropical dry-summer or Mediterranean climate of southern Europe. The line between Oceanic and Continental climate's in Europe runs in a generally west to east direction. For example, western Germany is more impacted by milder Atlantic air masses than is eastern Germany. Thus, winters across Europe become colder to the east, and (in some locations) summers become hotter. The line between oceanic Europe and Mediterranean Europe normally runs north to south and is related to changes in precipitation patterns and differences to seasonal temperatures.

The Americas

Vancouver, Canada
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Source: Environment Canada
Valdivia, Chile
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The oceanic climate exists in an arc spreading across the north-western coast of North America from the Alaskan panhandle to northern California, in general the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. It includes the western parts of Washington and Oregon, the Alaskan panhandle, western portions of British Columbia, and north-western California. In addition, some east coast areas such as Block Island, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket have a similar climate. [5] An extensive area of oceanic climates distinguishes the coastal regions of southern Chile and extends into bordering Argentina.

All mid-latitude oceanic climates are classified as humid. However, some rainshadow climates feature thermal régimes similar to those of oceanic climates but with steppe-like (BSk) or even desert-like (BWk) scarcity of precipitation. Despite the oceanic-like thermal regimes, these areas are generally classified as steppe or desert climates. These arid versions of oceanic climates are found in eastern Washington and Oregon to the east of the Cascade Range in the United States, in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia in Canada, Patagonia in southern Argentina, and the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Africa

The only noteworthy area of maritime climate at or near sea-level within Africa is in South Africa from Mossel Bay on the Western Cape coast to Plettenberg Bay (the Garden Route), with additional pockets of this climate inland of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal coast. It is usually warm most of the year with no pronounced rainy season, but slightly more rain in autumn and spring. The Tristan da Cunha archipelago in the South Atlantic also has an oceanic climate.

Asia and Oceania

Melbourne, Australia
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Source: [6]

The oceanic climate is prevalent in the more southerly parts of Oceania. A mild maritime climate is in existence in New Zealand. It occurs in a few areas of Australia, namely in the southeast, although average high temperatures during summers there tend to be higher and the summers drier than is typical of oceanic climates, with summer maxima sometimes exceeding 40 °C (104 °F). [7] The climate is found in Tasmania, southern half of Victoria and southeastern New South Wales (southwards from Wollongong).

In Asia, the coastal part of northwestern Turkey, from Karadeniz Ereğli to Inebolu, features this climate. Additionally parts of the northeastern coast of Honshu, from Mutsu, Aomori towards Miyako, Iwate in Japan, feature this climate. [8]

Indian Ocean

Île Amsterdam and Île Saint-Paul, both part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, are located in the subtropics and have an oceanic climate (akin to Tristan da Cunha; see above).

Varieties

Subtropical highland variety (Cfb, Cwb, Cwc)

Mexico City
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Source: WMO
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Source: NMAE
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka SL Nuwara Eliya asv2020-01 img12 racecourse.jpg
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

The subtropical highland is the variety of the oceanic climate that exists in elevated portions of the world that are within either the tropics or subtropics, though it is typically found in mountainous locations in some tropical countries. Despite the latitude, the higher altitudes of these regions mean that the climate tends to share characteristics with oceanic climates, though it can experience noticeably drier weather during the lower-sun "winter" season, and it usually has warmer winters than most oceanic climates.

In locations outside the tropics, other than the drying trend in the winter, subtropical highland climates tend to be essentially identical to an oceanic climate, with mild summers and noticeably cooler winters, plus, in some instances, some snowfall. In the tropics, a subtropical highland climate typically features spring-like weather year-round. Temperatures there remain relatively constant throughout the year and snowfall is seldom seen.

Areas with this climate feature monthly averages below 22 °C (72 °F) but above −3 °C (27 °F) (or 0 °C (32 °F) using American standards). At least one month's average temperature is below 18 °C (64 °F). Without their elevation, many of these regions would likely feature either tropical or humid subtropical climates.

This type of climate exists in parts of east, south and southeastern Africa, interior southern Africa and elevated portions of eastern Africa as far north as Ethiopia and of western Africa (west region of Cameroon) up to the southwestern Angola highlands also share this climate type. The exposed areas of High Atlas, some mountainous areas across southern Europe, mountainous sections of North America, including parts of the southern Appalachians, Central and parts of South America in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo in Brazil, most of Yunnan and mountainous areas across Southeast Asia, parts of the Himalayas, parts of Sri Lanka, and parts of the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and Hawaii (island).

Very small areas in the contiguous United States, specifically minute areas in South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico also have this type of climate, despite their higher latitudes compared to other areas having this climate, and is mainly caused by the North American Monsoon, as well as their higher elevation. These areas are generally much drier than other areas having the Subtropical Highland Climate.

Small areas in Yunnan, Sichuan and parts of Bolivia have summers sufficiently short to be Cwc with fewer than four months over 10 °C (50 °F). [9] However due to the high altitudes at these locations, these areas feature Cwc climates. This is the cold variant of Subtropical Highland Climate. El Alto, Bolivia, is one of the few confirmed towns that features this variation of the subtropical highland climate.

Marine west coast (Cfb)

Plymouth, United Kingdom
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Source: Hong Kong Observatory

Temperate oceanic climates, also known as "marine mild winter" climates [10] or simply oceanic climates, are found either at middle latitudes. They are often found on or near the west coast of continents; hence another name for Cfb, "marine west coast climates". In addition to moderate temperatures year-round, one of the characteristics is the absence of a dry season. Except for western Europe, this type of climate is confined to narrow bands of territory, largely in mid or high latitudes, although it can appear in elevated areas of continental terrain in low latitudes, e.g. plateaus in the subtropics. [11] It exists in both hemispheres between 35° and 60°: at low altitudes between Mediterranean, humid continental, and subarctic climates. [12]

Western sea breezes ease temperatures and moderates the winter, especially if warm sea currents are present, and cause cloudy weather to predominate. Precipitation is constant, especially in colder months, when temperatures are warmer than elsewhere at comparable latitudes. This climate can occur farther inland if no mountain ranges are present or nearby. [13] As this climate causes sufficient moisture year-round without permitting deep snow cover, vegetation typically prospers in this climate. Deciduous trees are predominant in this climate region. However, conifers such as spruce, pine, and cedar are also common in few areas, and fruits such as apples, pears, and grapes can often be cultivated here.

In the hottest month, the average temperature is below 22 °C (72 °F), and at least four months feature average temperatures higher than 10 °C (50 °F). The average temperature of the coldest month must not be colder than −3–0 °C (27–32 °F), or the climate will be classified as continental. [11] [14] The average temperature variations in the year are between 10–15 °C (50–59 °F), with average annual temperatures between 6–13 °C (43–55 °F). Rain values can vary from 50–500 cm (20–197 in), depending on whether mountains cause orographic precipitation. Frontal cyclones can be common in marine west coast regions, with some areas experiencing more than 150 rainy days annually, but strong storms are rare. [12]

Sao Joaquim, Brazil Snow in Sao Joaquim (SC) 1988b.jpg
São Joaquim, Brazil

Cfb climates are predominant in most of Europe except the northeast, as global temperature became warmer towards late 20th and early 21st century. However, just few decades ago, oceanic climate was only present in parts of Western Europe, including northern Spain, Northwestern Portugal (mountains), Belgium, Britain, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands. They are the main climate type in New Zealand and the Australian states of Tasmania, Victoria, and southeastern New South Wales (starting from the Illawarra region). In North America, they are found mainly in Washington, Oregon, Vancouver Island, and neighbouring parts of British Columbia, as well as many coastal areas of southeast Alaska. There are pockets of Cfb in most South American countries, including many parts of Southern Brazil, parts of the provinces of Chubut, Santa Cruz, and southeast Buenos Aires province in Argentina. In Western Asia, small pockets are found close to sea level on the Black Sea coast of northern Turkey and Georgia. While Cfb zones are rare in Africa, one dominates the coastline of the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

The climate subtype can also be found in Nantucket, Massachusetts (in the immediate west and northwest in transition for humid continental, the remainder of Cape Cod [15] ) [16]

Subpolar variety (Cfc, Cwc)

Punta Arenas, Chile
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Source: Dirección Meteorológica de Chile [17]
Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
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Source: Danish Meteorological Institute [18]

Areas with subpolar oceanic climates feature an oceanic climate but are usually located closer to polar regions, with long but relatively mild winters and short, cool summers. As a result of their location, these regions tend to be on the cool end of oceanic climates, approaching to polar regions. 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. Subpolar oceanic climates feature only one to three months of average monthly temperatures that are at least 10 °C (50 °F). As with oceanic climates, none of its average monthly temperatures fall below -3.0 °C (26.6 °F) or 0 °C depending on the isotherm used. Typically, these areas in the warmest month experience daytime maximum temperatures below 17 °C (63 °F), while the coldest month features highs near or slightly above freezing and lows just below freezing while keeping the average warm enough. It typically carries a Cfc designation, though very small areas in Argentina and Chile have summers sufficiently short to be Cwc with fewer than four months over 10 °C (50 °F). [9]

This variant of an oceanic climate is found in parts of coastal Iceland, the Faroe Islands, parts of Scotland, northwestern coastal areas of Norway (most of Lofoten, Vesterålen, warmest part of Tromsø reaching to 71°N on some islands), [19] uplands/highlands in western Norway, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and northern parts of the Alaskan Panhandle, the southwest of Argentina, and a few highland areas of Tasmania, and the Australian and Southern Alps. [20] This type of climate is even found in very remote parts of the New Guinea Highlands. The classification used for this regime is Cfc. [1] 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.

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of the Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of eighteen islands between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, about half-way between Iceland and Norway. Its coordinates are 62°N7°W. It is 1,393 square kilometres in area, and includes small lakes and rivers, but no major ones. There are 1,117 kilometres of coastline, and no land boundaries with any other country.

Polar climate Climate Classification

The polar climate regions are characterized by a lack of warm summers but with varying winters. Every month in a polar climate has an average temperature of less than 10 °C (50 °F). Regions with polar climate cover more than 20% of the Earth's area. Most of these regions are far from the equator and near the poles, and in this case, winter days are extremely short and summer days are extremely long. A polar climate consists of cool summers and very cold winters, which results in treeless tundra, glaciers, or a permanent or semi-permanent layer of ice. It is identified with the letter E in the Köppen climate classification.

Subarctic climate Climate characterised by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool summers

The subarctic climate is a climate characterised by long, cold winters, and short, warm to cool summers. It is found on large landmasses, often away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N north, poleward of the humid continental climates. Subarctic or boreal climates are the source regions for the cold air that affects temperate latitudes to the south in winter. These climates represent Köppen climate classification Dfc, Dwc, Dsc, Dfd, Dwd and Dsd.

Temperate climate Main climate class

In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes, which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. 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 and usually only have precipitation changes.

Climate of the United Kingdom Overview of the climate of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom straddles the higher mid-latitudes between 49° and 61°N on the western seaboard of Europe. Since the UK is always in or close to the path of the polar front jet stream, frequent changes in pressure and unsettled weather are typical. Many types of weather can be experienced in a single day. In general the climate of the UK is changeable, often cloudy especially in the more northerly areas of the country, with rain evenly distributed throughout the year.

Continental climate Köppen climate category

Continental climates often have a significant annual variation in temperature. They tend to occur in the middle latitudes, within large landmasses where prevailing winds blow overland bringing some precipitation, and temperatures are not moderated by bodies of water such as oceans or seas unlike temperate climates. Continental climates occur mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, which has the kind of large landmasses on temperate latitudes required for this type of climate to develop. Most of northern and northeastern China, eastern and southeastern Europe, Western and north western Iran, central and southeastern Canada, and the central and northeastern United States have this type of climate. Continentality is a measure of the degree to which a region experiences this type of climate.

Mediterranean climate Type of climate

A Mediterranean climate, also called dry summer temperate climateCs, is a temperate climate sub-type, characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, where this climate type is most common. Mediterranean climate zones are typically located along the western coasts of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator. The main cause of Mediterranean, or dry summer climate, is the subtropical ridge which extends toward that hemisphere's pole during the summer and migrates toward the equator during the winter due to the seasonal poleward-equatorward variations of temperatures.

Subtropics Geographic and climate zone

The subtropical zones or subtropics are geographical and climate zones located to the north and south of the tropics. Geographically part of the temperate zones of both hemispheres, they cover the middle latitudes from 23°26′10.9″ (or 23.43636°) to approximately 35° north and south. The horse latitudes lie within this range.

Köppen climate classification Climate classification system

The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by German-Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen, notably in 1918 and 1936. Later, the climatologist Rudolf Geiger (1894–1981) introduced some changes to the classification system, which is thus sometimes called the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system.

Semi-arid climate Climate with precipitation below potential evapotranspiration

A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is a dry climate sub-type. It is located on regions that receive precipitation below potential evapotranspiration, but not as low as a desert climate. There are different kinds of semi-arid climates, depending on variables such as temperature, and they give rise to different biomes.

Humid continental climate Category in the Köppen climate classification system

A humid continental climate is a climatic region defined by Russo-German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1900, typified by four distinct seasons and large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and freezing cold winters. Precipitation is usually distributed throughout the year but often do have dry seasons. The definition of this climate regarding temperature is as follows: the mean temperature of the coldest month must be below 0 °C (32.0 °F) or −3 °C (26.6 °F) depending on the isotherm, and there must be at least four months whose mean temperatures are at or above 10 °C (50 °F). In addition, the location in question must not be semi-arid or arid. The cooler Dfb, Dwb, and Dsb subtypes are also known as hemiboreal climates.

In climatology, the term mesothermal is used to refer to certain forms of climate found typically in the Earth's temperate zones. It has a moderate span of temperature, with winters not cold enough to sustain snow cover. Summers are warm within oceanic climate regimes, and hot within continental or subtropical climate regimes.

Climate of Scotland Overview of the climate of Scotland

The climate of Scotland is mostly temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable, but rarely extreme. It is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, and given its northerly latitude it is much warmer than areas on similar latitudes, for example Kamchatka in Russia or Labrador in Canada—where the sea freezes over in winter or Fort McMurray, Canada—where −35 °C (−31 °F) is not uncommon during winter. Scots sometimes describe weather which is grey and gloomy using the Scots language word dreich.

Climate of Alaska Overview of the climate of the U.S. state of Alaska

The climate of Alaska is determined by average temperatures and precipitation received statewide over many years. The extratropical storm track runs along the Aleutian Island chain, across the Alaska Peninsula, and along the coastal area of the Gulf of Alaska which exposes these parts of the state to a large majority of the storms crossing the North Pacific. The climate in Juneau and the southeast panhandle is a mid-latitude oceanic climate, in the southern sections and a subarctic oceanic climate in the northern parts. The climate in Southcentral Alaska is a subarctic climate due to its short, cool summers. The climate of the interior of Alaska is best described as extreme and is the best example of a true subarctic climate, as the highest and lowest recorded temperatures in Alaska have both occurred in the interior. The climate in the extreme north of Alaska is an Arctic climate with long, cold winters, and cool summers where snow is possible year-round.

Climate of Chile Overview of the climate of Chile

The climate of Chile comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale, extending across 38 degrees in latitude, making generalizations difficult. According to the Köppen system, Chile within its borders hosts at least seven major climatic subtypes, ranging from low desert in the north, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the east and southeast, tropical rainforest in Easter Island, Oceanic in the south and Mediterranean climate in central Chile. There are four seasons in most of the country: summer, autumn, winter, and spring.

Climate of Tasmania

Tasmania has a cool temperate climate with four distinct seasons. The highest recorded maximum temperature in Tasmania is 42.2 °C (108.0 °F) at Scamander on 30 January 2009, during the 2009 southeastern Australia heat wave. Tasmania's lowest recorded minimum temperature is −14.2 °C (6.4 °F) on 7 August 2020, at Central Plateau.

Humid subtropical climate Transitional climatic zone

A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cool to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 40° and are located poleward from adjacent tropical climates. It is also known as warm temperate climate in some climate classifications.

Climate of Sweden Overview of the climate of Sweden

Most of Sweden has a temperate climate, despite its northern latitude, with largely four distinct seasons and mild temperatures throughout the year. The winter in the far south is usually weak and is manifested only through some shorter periods with snow and sub-zero temperatures, autumn may well turn into spring there, without a distinct period of winter. The northern parts of the country have a subarctic climate while the central parts have a humid continental climate. The coastal south can be defined as having either a humid continental climate using the 0 °C isotherm, or an oceanic climate using the –3 °C isotherm.

Climate of Europe Overview of the climate of Europe

Europe is generally characterized by a temperate climate. Most of Western Europe has an Oceanic climate, in the Köppen climate classification, featuring cool to warm summers and cool winters with frequent overcast skies. Southern Europe has a distinctively Mediterranean climate, which features warm to hot, dry summers and cool to mild winters and frequent sunny skies. Central-eastern Europe is classified as having a Continental climate, which features warm to hot summers and cold winters. The climate of western Europe is strongly conditioned by the Gulf Stream, which keeps mild air over Northwestern Europe in the winter months, especially in Ireland, the United Kingdom and coastal Norway.

Temperate continental climate Category in the Köppen climate classification system

A Humid continental climate is a continental climate region defined by Russo-German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1900, typified by four distinct seasons and large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and freezing cold winters. Precipitation is usually distributed throughout the year but often do have dry seasons. The definition of this climate regarding temperature is as follows: the mean temperature of the coldest month must be below 0 °C (32.0 °F) or −3 °C (26.6 °F) depending on the isotherm, and there must be at least four months whose mean temperatures are at or above 10 °C (50 °F). In addition, the location in question must not be semi-arid or arid. The cooler Dfb, Dwb, and Dsb subtypes are also known as hemiboreal climates.

References

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