Local climate

Local weather is influenced by many factors

The actual weather in your area might vary greatly from what's typical of the region. But what influences local weather?

Altitude

Temperatures decrease with height above sea level because the air is less dense and does not hold heat as easily.

Prevailing wind

If the prevailing wind (the predominant wind direction) blows air from a hotter region, it will raise temperatures. If the reverse is true, it will lower them overall.

Distance from the sea

Land heats and cools faster than the sea. Therefore coastal areas have a lower temperature range than those areas inland. On the coast, winters are relatively mild and summers are cool. Inland, temperatures are higher in the summer and colder in the winter.

Ocean currents

Warm ocean currents, especially in the north Atlantic, moderate the land temperatures of cold areas.

Topography

Local variations in height can bring changes in climate. Hills and mountains play a decisive part in local weather patterns, especially where moist air is forced to rise and cool, forming precipitation.

Vegetation

The type of ground cover affects local albedo (reflectivity) and thus sunlight absorption. Vegetation also disrupts or blocks low-level airflow.

Urban/rural

Urban areas occupy only a small percentage of the Earth's surface, but the presence of human populations and their housing, buildings, transport and industry gives them a climate that is usually warmer, less windy and more polluted than the surrounding area.

Last updated: 22 July 2014