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Why are there different climates?

Autumn view of woodland in PennsylvaniaAutumn view of woodland in PennsylvaniaDifferent patterns of weather, including rainfall, winds and temperature, are found in different parts of the world. These patterns are called climates. Hot climates are found near the Equator where the Sun is closest. Polar regions, where the Sun is farthest away, are the coldest. In between are temperate lands, which have warm summers and cool winters.


This map shows the world’s main climate regions.This map shows the world’s main climate regions.
Tropical climate: Amazon rainforestTropical climate: Amazon rainforest

Tropical climate

In some parts of the tropics, there is heavy rainfall all year round. Tropical rainforest thrives in this this hot, wet climate. In other parts, there is a wet season and a dry season. A period of wet weather is followed by a long period of drought. Many of these regions have a mix of grassland and trees called savanna. East Africa is a typical example.

Desert climate

About a third of the Earth's land area has a desert or semi-desert climate.

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