Earth’s Systems


What’s Climate?

Imagine you’re creating a photo album of your neighborhood’s weather. You snap pictures every day for 30 years or more. Looking back at all those photos, you’ll notice some patterns – like it’s usually hot in summer, or it always snows in winter. That’s climate! It’s the big picture of an area’s weather over a long time.

Climate vs. Weather

It’s easy to mix up climate and weather, but they’re different. Weather is what you see outside your window each day. It could be sunny today, rainy tomorrow, and windy the next day.

But climate is what you’d expect the weather to be like over many years. If you live somewhere with a desert climate, you’d expect it to be hot and dry most of the time. If you live somewhere with a tropical climate, you’d expect it to be warm and rainy all year round.

Different Types of Climate

Our Earth is like a big patchwork quilt of different climates. Here are a few:

  • Tropical Climate: These areas are usually warm and wet. They’re found near the equator and don’t change much throughout the year.
  • Dry Climate: These areas don’t get much rain. They can be as hot as a desert or as cold as a freezer.
  • Temperate Climate: These areas have a moderate amount of rain and four distinct seasons. Places like the United States and Europe have this climate.
  • Continental Climate: These areas have big changes in temperature from season to season. They’re found in the middle parts of big land masses.
  • Polar Climate: These areas are super cold with long, tough winters and short, chilly summers. They’re found at the very top and bottom of Earth.

Why Do We Study Climate?

Studying climate helps us understand our world. It tells us why certain plants and animals live where they do, why some places have more storms or floods, and how what we do affects Earth’s climate.