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World Geography / Climatology

Climate Zones of the World

Natural regions or Climate zones of the world can be classified on the basis of latitudes. Depending on the latitudes there are 5 major climate regions of the world, namely (i) Equatorial Region of the World, (ii) Tropical and Subtropical Regions, (iii) Mid-Latitude Regions, (iv) High Latitude Regions and (v) Polar and Subpolar Regions. There is gradual decrease in temperature from Equatorial regions to Polar regions of earth. That means, the regions near the Equator are generally hotter when compared to the regions near the Poles.

Equatorial Region ( 100 N - 50 S )

  • The Equatorial regions of the world include Amazon basin of South America, Indonesia, Malaysia, Congo basin in Africa, etc. Here, we find Amazon type of natural vegetation like Congo rainforest plants, Amazon rainforest trees, etc.

  • The climate of equatorial region is very humid and has very high temperature (hot climate). There will be rainfall every month and summer will be there throughout the year. Here, mean monthly temperature is more than 210C. The rainfall is convectional type and the average rainfall in equatorial region is more than 200 cm.

  • Dense evergreen rainforests, also known as Selva forests, are developed here and it is a 3-tier vegetative system. The Umbrella shaped canopy trees are generally found here. Sun rays cannot reach the ground here. The forest is pitch-dark at the floor, which is marshy in nature.

  • The prominent trees that grow here are Mahogany, Ebony, Rosewood, Brazilwood, Tamarind, etc. They are the only surviving virgin forests. They are regarded as global sink of Carbon Dioxide. Maximum biodiversity is found in Equator region. The prominent fauna here are primates, monkeys, langurs, snakes, lizards, crocodiles, vipers, etc. Poisonous insects live in these forests.

Tropical and Subtropical Regions ( 100 - 300 )

Monsoon Type of Climate (in Eastern Margins of Continents)

  • In the eastern margin of continents, the climate is known as Caribbean type or Monsoon type of climate. The areas include South Asia, Southeast Asia and Philippines, Small parts of North Australia, Central America, East coast of Brazil, Caribbean Islands, East coasts of Africa, etc.

  • Here, summers are hot and winters are warm or cool. Rainfall here is high having an annual average of more than 100 cm. The rainfall is received during 3-4 months of summer (rainy season).

  • Here, forests are generally dense but they are deciduous forests as there are long dry seasons. These tropical deciduous forests are called Monsoon forests and are found in North East, Central and East India, Myanmar, Cambodia, etc. They have wide biodiversity. Here forests are degraded but yield timber from Teak, Sal, Mahua, Bamboo, etc. They support wildlife animals like Elephants, Lions, Tigers, Rhinoceros, etc.

Sahara Natural Region (in Western Margins of Continents)

  • The Western Margin of Continents includes Mexican or Mojave desert, Atacama desert, Kalahari desert, Sahara desert, Thar desert, West Australian desert, etc.

  • Here, summers are hot or very hot and winters are cool. Here days are hot and nights are cool (higher diurnal thermal range). Some of the hottest places on earth are located in this region. The annual average rainfall in Sahara Natural region is less than 15 cm.

  • Trees are scattered in this region. Palm or Date palm trees, bushes or scrubs (in order to reduce the transpiration), Megatherms (can withstand high temperature) and Xerophytes varieties are found here. Scrubs are of Cactus variety (thorn bearing). The fauna found here are burrowing animals, rabbits, rodents, rats, etc.

Savanna Region or Sudan Type Climate (in Interiors of Continents)

  • They are typically developed in Sudan. The areas include Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Brazilian Plateau region, Australia, South Africa, etc.

  • Here the summers are hot and winters are warm or cool. The rainfall is moderate ranging from 50-70 cm and is received throughout summer. There is lot uncertainty of rainfall and hence these areas are drought prone and they cannot support forests. Here, the vegetation includes small patches of woody jungles and in between there exists vast extent of grasslands (tall and coarse variety of grass having a height in the range of 5-7 m).

  • In Africa, these grasslands are called Elephanta or Savanna grasslands. In Brazil, they are called Campos grasslands. In Australia, they are called Parkland grassland. In South Africa, they are called Tropical Veld or Lowveld.

  • They are known for rich wildlife like Lions, Zebras, Rhinos, etc. Here, Prey Predator relationship is well established. This region is called Big Game Country region or Hunter's paradise.

Mid-Latitude Regions ( 300 - 600 )

Mediterranean Type of Climate (in Western Margins of Continents)

  • They are found around Mediterranean sea area, which include Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Adriatic Coast, Black Sea, Coast of Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and also found in Californian coast of US, Cape Province of South Africa, Central Chile, Victoria province of Australia, etc.

  • Mediterranean type of climate is the most pleasant climate for human living. Here, summers are warm to hot and winters are cool or occasionally cold. Here, rainfall is received in winter. Here, winters are humid and summers are dry.

  • The temperate forests that are present here are known as Sclerophyll forests. Trees like Olive, Fig, Cork are found only in this region. The forests are being replaced by orchards and particularly citrus fruits (grapes, sweet lemon, lemon, pomegranate, etc.) are cultivated. The region is known for manufacturing of wines, jams, jellies, etc.

China Type of Climate (in Eastern Margins of Continents from 400 to 600)

  • The areas include East and Southeast China, Southeast US, Natal Province of South Africa, etc.

  • Here, summers are hot and winters are cool. Rainfall here is high ranging around annual average of 100 cm. Rainfall is normally concentrated in summer but even winters also have some rainfall. Here, the forests are temperate forests.

Semi-Arid Climate or Steppe Climate (in Interior Mid-Latitudes)

  • The Steppe climate zone of earth includes Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Goergia, etc. They support short, soft and juicy grasses (temperate grasses).

  • They are called by different names in different areas. They are called Steppe grasslands in Russia, Europe and Asia, Prairies grasslands in US and Canada, High Veld grasslands in South Africa and Downs grasslands in Australia.

  • All these grasslands are lost and now there is commercial (capital intensive, highly mechanized, modern) agriculture happening in these areas. Wheat, Maize and Cotton are exported on large scale from these areas. These areas are called Breadbaskets of the World. These areas are covered by Chernozem soil or black soil.

High Latitude Regions ( 600 - 800 )

British Type Climate (in Western Margins of Continents)

  • It is also called North-West European Maritime Climate or Cool Temperate Western Margin Climate. The British Type Climate areas include Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Estonia, North-West US, South-West Canada, Tasmania, New Zealand, etc.

  • Here, summers are warm to cool and winters are cold but not always frozen (cool to cold). Rainfall is fairly high and evenly distributed throughout the year. It is a typical example of maritime climate (under the influence of ocean or sea and here neither summers are hot nor winters are harsh).

  • Here, we can find temperate, broad leaved evergreen forests. Most forests have been cleared. In higher reaches, the hilltops are covered with pastures. The cool and humid climate promotes milk production. It is a zone of commercial dairy farming (capital intensive dairy farming). Here, we can find good quality cattle breeds like Jersey, Hartford, Swiss Brown, etc.

  • Here, countries export dairy products on large scale. Denmark is Butter base of Europe and UK is Cheese base. Switzerland is rich in milk products, chocolates and ice creams. These areas are known for floriculture, e.g. in Holland, Jasmine, Rose, Lily, Tulips are cultivated on commercial lines.

  • These areas are also known for market gardening practice or truck farming (cultivation of fruits and vegetables on commercial lines and supplying to the markets). Tasmania is known as Garden state of Australia.

Taiga Climate (in Interiors of the Continents)

  • It is also called Siberian type of climate. The Taiga Climate region includes Norway, Sweden, Finland, Siberian area of Russia, US, Canada, etc.

  • Here, summers are cool and winters are harshly cold, chill and frozen. Mean monthly temperature here is 8-100C. Maximum summer temperature will be 150C and minimum temperature is -500C. Of all the climate regions in the world, Maximum annual thermal range is found in this region. This highest thermal range is due to continentality, that is being away from the oceans (there won't be any moderation by the sea).

  • The vegetation here includes coniferous forests, where the trees are thin and tall (20-30 m) and are having conical shaped canopy. We do not find trees having broad leaves here but the leaves will be like needles (hence are called needle leaved forests). There will be heavy rainfall in winter but snow will not accumulate on trees.

  • Pine, Fir, Spruce, Cedar are the species of trees found here which yield softwood, which is useful for manufacturing of newsprint variety of paper. These forests are evergreen type of forests.

Tundra Climate (in Polar and Subpolar Regions)

  • The Tundra Climate region includes Alaska, North Canada, Finland, Russia, Norway, etc. Here, summers are cool to cold and the temperature range is 6-80C. Summer occurs for brief period (2-3 months). Winters are frozen and temperature is in the range of -200C to -300C. Winters are long (9-10 months).

  • There will be snow melting in summer which makes it marshy. During winter, there will not be any vegetation. During summer, Tundra vegetation will have some plants, which are ephemeral (which are having short life cycle) plants, inferior variety plants, microtherm or hekistotherm (which survive in very low temperature) plants.

  • Cryptogams (non-flower bearing plants) like Algae, Lichens, Ferns and Phanerogams like Rhododendrons grow here. Sometimes, pastures may appear here. Fur bearing animals like polar bears, reindeer, seals, penguins (all are hibernating varieties), etc. live here. Greenland, Iceland and Antarctica are the Permafrost plains of the climate zones of the world.