Continental climate

Continental climate
Continental climate is not found on southern hemisphere.

Continental climate is a climate that is characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby. Often winter temperature is cold enough to support a fixed period of snow each year, and relatively moderate precipitation occurring mostly in summer, although there are exceptions like the east coast areas of North America which show an even distribution of precipitation—this pattern is called Humid continental climate, but dry continental climates also exist. Regions having a continental climate exist in portions of the Northern Hemisphere continents (especially North America[1] and Asia), and also at higher elevations in other parts of the world. Tubegalore.c°m is a great site to find more of this.

Only a few areas in Iran, Northern Iraq, adjacent Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia show a winter maximum in precipitation, and this typically melts in early spring to give short-lived floods.



Regions with continental climate generally have either forest or tall-grass prairie as natural ground cover and include some of the most productive farmlands in the world. All such climates have at least three months of temperatures in excess of 10 °C (50 °F) and winters with at least one month below −3 °C (26.6 °F) or 0 °C (32 °F) depending on the classification used.


Average temperature ranges
season day-time temperature range night-time temperature range
Maximum Minimum Maximum Minimum
°F °C °F °C °F °C °F °C
summer 90 32 70 21 65 18 50 10
winter 45 7 10 −12 25 −4 −10 −23


Spring-like temperatures occur in this zone between early March in the southern parts of this zone to mid April in the far northern fringes of this climate zone. Annual precipitation in this zone is usually between 600 millimetres (24 in) to 1,200 millimetres (47 in), most of it in the form of snow during winter.

Köppen climate classification

Most such areas fit Köppen classifications of Dfa, Dwa (cold winters, hot summers; "w" indicating very dry winters characteristic especially of China) or Dfb or Dwb (cold winters, warm summers, same distinction for winter dryness). Dry summer continental climates (Dsa and Dsb) exist in high altitude areas near Mediterranean climates.


Continental climates exist where cold air masses infiltrate during the winter and warm air masses form in summer under conditions of high sun and long days. Places with continental climates are as a rule either far from any moderating effects of oceans (examples: Omaha, Nebraska, USA and Kazan, Russia) or are so situated that prevailing winds tend to head offshore (example: Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Vladivostok, Russia). Such regions get quite warm in the summer, achieving temperatures characteristic of tropical climates but are much colder than any other climates of similar latitude in the winter.

Neighboring climates

These climates grade off toward subtropical climates equator-ward where winters are less severe and semiarid climates where precipitation becomes inadequate for tall-grass prairies. In Europe these climates may grade off into oceanic climates in which the influence of moderating air masses is more marked toward the west. The subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc), with very cold, long and dry winters, but with at least one month above 10 °C (50 °F), might be considered a sub-type of the continental climate.


Example of areas of the world with continental climate are the Midwestern United States, northeastern parts of the US, southern Canada, inland and northeastern China, Korea, northern Japan, most of Russia and Bosnia, parts of Norway, Sweden, inner parts of Turkey, eastern Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, some parts of Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. A continental climate can also be found in many valleys around mountains in the North Temperate Zone; such as the Alps (in France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria), the Pyrenees (in Spain, Andorra and France) or the Himalayas (in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Nepal, Burma and Bhutan).

Continental climates do not exist in the Southern Hemisphere due to the lack of broad land masses at middle latitudes, the southernmost parts of Africa and Australia being under marine influences and southern South America being too narrow in breadth to allow cold air masses to form. Antarctica lies completely outside the middle latitudes.

See also


External links

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