What is climate?

Some places are warm almost every day of the year. Other places are mostly cool and rainy. Other places have changing seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Climate is what the weather is like in the same area over a long period of time. Climate and weather are not the same thing. Weather is what happens in the atmosphere over a short period of time.

The sun, the ocean, and the land all help to make a climate. At the North and South poles, the climate is cold because the sun’s rays shine at an angle. Angled rays are not as strong as direct rays.

Near the equator, the sun’s rays shine almost straight down. So the climate of most countries near the equator is very warm or hot.

Warm parts of the ocean near the equator often have the wettest climate. This is because in these places the air absorbs the greatest amount of moisture, and it falls as rain.

Sometimes the climate of mountains is cooler than the land around them. In these higher places, warm air rises and cools rapidly. Some parts of mountains are also wetter because warm air is moist. As the warm air rises, it quickly cools. The cool air can’t hold a lot of water, so it falls as rain.