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UNIT 6—LESSON 4

CLASSIFICATION OF CLIMATE

OVERVIEW

Recognize climatic zones and climatic types as they relate to the classification of climate.

OUTLINE

Climatic zones

Climatic types

CLASSIFICATION OF CLIMATE

The climate of a given region or locality is determined by a combination of several meteorological elements and not by just one ele-ment. For example, two regions may have similar temperature climates but very different precipita-tion climates. Their climatic difference, therefore, becomes apparent only if more than one climatic factor is considered. 

Since the climate of a region is composed of all of the various climatic elements, such as dew, ice, rain, temperature, wind force, and wind direc-tion, it is obvious that no two locations can have exactly the same climate. However, it is possible to group similar areas into what is known as a climatic zone.

Learning Objective: Recognize climatic zones and climatic types as they relate to the classification of climate.

CLIMATIC ZONES

The basic grouping of areas into climatic zones consists of classifying climates into five broad belts based on astronomical or mathematical fac-tors. Actually they are zones of sunshine or solar climate and include the torrid, or tropical zone, the two temperate zones, and the two polar zones. The tropical zone is limited on the north by the Tropic of Cancer and on the south by the Tropic of Capricorn, which are located at 23 1/2° north and south latitude, respectively. The temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere is limited on the south by the Tropic of Cancer and on the north by the Arctic Circle located at 66 1/2° north latitude. The temperate zone of the Southern Hemisphere is bounded on the north by the Tropic of Capricorn and on the south by the Antarctic Circle located at 66 1/2° south latitude. The two polar zones are the areas in the polar regions which have the Arctic and Antarctic Circles as their boundaries.

Technically, climatic zones are limited by isotherms rather than by parallels of latitude (fig. 6-4-1). A glance at any chart depicting the isotherms over the surface of the earth shows that the isotherms do not coincide with latitude lines. In fact, at some places the isotherms parallel the longitude lines more closely than they parallel the latitude lines. The astronomical or light zones therefore differ from the zones of heat.

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