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A humid continental climate is a climatic region defined by Russo-German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1900, typified by four distinct seasons and large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold in the northern areas) winters. Precipitation is usually distributed throughout the year. The definition of this climate regarding temperature is as follows: the mean temperature of the coldest month must be below and there must be at least four months whose mean temperatures are at or above . In addition, the location in question must not be semi-arid or arid. The ''Dfb'', ''Dwb'' and ''Dsb'' subtypes are also known as hemiboreal. Humid continental climates are generally found between latitudes 30° N and 60° N, within the central and northeastern portions of
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
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Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
, and
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the conti ...
. They are much less commonly found in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (Hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere) of Earth that is south of the Equator. It contains all or parts of five continents (Antarctica, Australia (continent), Australia, about 90% of South America, one third of A ...
, due to the larger ocean area at that latitude and the consequent greater maritime moderation. In the Northern Hemisphere, some of the humid continental climates, typically in
Hokkaido is the Japanese archipelago, second largest island of Japan and comprises the largest and northernmost Prefectures of Japan, prefecture. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu; the two islands are connected by the undersea railway Sei ...
, Northern Honshu, Sakhalin island,
Scandinavia Scandinavia, Sami languages, Sami: ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl'' ( ) is a Subregion#Europe, subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' can refer to Denmark, Norw ...

Scandinavia
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, and Newfoundland are heavily maritime-influenced, with relatively cool summers and winters being just below the freezing mark. More extreme humid continental climates found in northeast
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6& ...
, southern Siberia, Korea, Korean Peninsula (except for the southern region in South Korea), the Canadian Prairies, and the Great Lakes region of the Midwestern United States, American Midwest and Central Canada combine hotter summer maxima and colder winters than the marine-based variety.


Definition

Using the Köppen climate classification, a climate is classified as humid continental when the temperature of the coldest month is below or and there must be at least four months whose mean temperatures are at or above . These temperatures were not arbitrary. In Europe, the average temperature isotherm (contour line), isotherm (line of equal temperature) was near the southern extent of winter snowpack. In the United States, it is more common to use the isotherm. The average temperature was found to be the minimum temperature necessary for tree growth. Wide temperature ranges are common within this climate zone. Second letter in the classification symbol defines seasonal rainfall as follows: * ''s'': A dry summer—the driest month in the high-sun half of the year (April to September in the Northern Hemisphere, October to March in the Southern Hemisphere) has less than / of rainfall and has exactly or less than the precipitation of the wettest month in the low-sun half of the year (October to March in the Northern Hemisphere, April to September in the Southern Hemisphere), * ''w'': A dry winter—the driest month in the low-sun half of the year has exactly or less than one‑tenth of the precipitation found in the wettest month in the summer half of the year, * ''f'': Without dry season—does not meet either of the alternative specifications. while the third letter denotes the extent of summer heat: * ''a'': Hot summer, warmest month averages at least , * ''b'': Warm summer, warmest month averages below and at least four months averages above .


Associated precipitation

Within North America, moisture within this climate regime is supplied by the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and adjacent western subtropical Atlantic. Precipitation (meteorology), Precipitation is relatively well distributed year-round in many areas with this climate (''f''), while others may see a marked reduction in wintry precipitation, which increases the chances of a wintertime drought (''w''). Snowfall occurs in all areas with a humid continental climate and in many such places is more common than rain during the height of winter. In places with sufficient wintertime precipitation, the snow cover is often deep. Most summer rainfall occurs during thunderstorms, and in North America and Asia an occasionally tropical system. Though humidity levels are often high in locations with humid continental climates, the "humid" designation means that the climate is not dry enough to be classified as semi-arid climate, semi-arid or arid.


Vegetation

By definition, forests thrive within this climate. Biomes within this climate regime include temperate woodlands, temperate grasslands, temperate deciduous, temperate evergreen forests, and coniferous forests. Within wetter areas, maple, spruce, pine, fir, and oak can be found. Fall foliage is noted during the autumn.


Hot summer subtype

A hot summer version of a continental climate features an average temperature of at least in its warmest month. Since these regimes are limited to the Northern Hemisphere, the warmest month is usually July or August. High temperatures in the warmest month tend to be in the high 20s or low 30s °C (80s or low 90s °F), while average January afternoon temperatures are near or well below freezing. Frost free periods normally last 4–7 months within this climate regime. Within
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
, this climate includes small areas of central and southeast Canada (including Essex County, Ontario, Essex County, the core area of the Golden Horseshoe and Greater Montreal) and portions of the central and eastern United States from 100th meridian west, 100°W eastward to the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic. Precipitation increases further eastward in this zone and is less seasonally uniform in the west. The western states of the central United States (namely Montana, Wyoming, parts of southern Idaho, most of Lincoln County, Washington, Lincoln County in Eastern Washington, parts of Colorado, parts of Utah, western Nebraska, and parts of western North Dakota, North and South Dakota) have thermal regimes which fit the ''Dfa'' climate type, but are quite dry, and are generally grouped with the steppe (''BSk'') climates. In the Eastern Hemisphere, this climate regime is found within interior Eurasia, east-central Asia, and parts of India. Within Europe, the ''Dfa'' climate type is present near the Black Sea in southern Ukraine, the Southern Federal District of Russia, southern Moldova, Serbia, parts of southern Romania, and Bulgaria, but tends to be drier and can be even semi-arid in these places. In East Asia, this climate exhibits a monsoonal tendency with much higher precipitation in summer than in winter, and due to the effects of the strong Siberian High much colder winter temperatures than similar latitudes around the world, however with lower snowfall, the exception being western Japan with its heavy snowfall. Tōhoku, between Tokyo and Hokkaidō and Western coast of Japan also has a climate with Köppen classification ''Dfa'', but is wetter even than that part of North America with this climate type. A variant which has dry winters and hence relatively lower snowfall with monsoonal type summer rainfall is to be found in northern People's Republic of China, China including Manchuria and parts of North China, and over much of the Korean Peninsula; it has the Köppen classification ''Dwa''. Much of central Asia, northwestern China, and southern Mongolia have a thermal regime similar to that of the ''Dfa'' climate type, but these regions receive so little precipitation that they are more often classified as steppes (''BSk'') or deserts (''BWk''). ''Dsa'' climates are rare; they are generally restricted to elevated areas adjacent to Mediterranean climate regions with a ''Csa'' climate well inland to ensure hot summers and cold winters. They are generally found in the highly elevated areas of south-eastern Turkey (Hakkâri), north-western Iran and parts of Central Asia. This climate zone does not exist at all in the southern hemisphere, where the only landmass that enters the upper-middle latitudes, South America, Southern Cone, tapers too much to have any place that gets the combination of snowy winters and hot summers. Marine influences preclude ''Dfa'', ''Dwa'', and ''Dsa'' climates in the southern hemisphere.


Warm summer subtype

Also known as Hemiboreal, Hemiboreal climate, areas featuring this subtype of the continental climate have an average temperature in the warmest month below . Summer high temperatures in this zone typically average between during the daytime and the average temperatures in the coldest month are generally far below the (or ) isotherm. Frost-free periods typically last 3–5 months. Heat spells lasting over a week are rare. Winters are long, cold, and severe. The warm summer version of the humid continental climate covers a much larger area than the hot subtype. In North America, the climate zone covers from about 42nd parallel north, 42°N to 50th parallel north, 50°N latitude mostly east of 100th meridian west, 100°W, including most of Southern Ontario, The Maritimes, and Newfoundland, as well as the northern United States from eastern North Dakota east to Maine. However, it can be found as far north as 54th parallel north, 54°N, and further west in the Canadian Prairie Provinces and below 40th parallel north, 40°N in the high Appalachian Mountains, Appalachians. In Europe, this subtype reaches its most northerly latitude in Bodø at the 67th parallel north, 67°N. High-altitude locations as South Lake Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado, in the western United States exhibit local ''Dfb'' climates. The south-central and southwestern Prairie Provinces also fits the ''Dfb'' criteria from a thermal profile, but because of semi-arid precipitation portions of it are grouped into the ''BSk'' category. In
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
, it is found in much of Eastern Europe and south and central parts of
Scandinavia Scandinavia, Sami languages, Sami: ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl'' ( ) is a Subregion#Europe, subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' can refer to Denmark, Norw ...

Scandinavia
not bathed by the Atlantic Ocean or North Sea: Ukraine (the whole country except the Black Sea coast), Belarus, Poland (one third of the east), Russia, Sweden (historical region of Svealand), Finland (south end, including the List of Finnish municipalities, three largest cities), Norway (most populated area), Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania (generally above ), Hungary (generally above ) and Turkey (generally above ). has little warming or precipitation effects from the northern Atlantic. The cool summer subtype is marked by mild summers, long cold winters and less Precipitation (meteorology), precipitation than the hot summer subtype; however, short periods of extreme heat are not uncommon. Northern Japan has a similar climate. In the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (Hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere) of Earth that is south of the Equator. It contains all or parts of five continents (Antarctica, Australia (continent), Australia, about 90% of South America, one third of A ...
, it exists in well-defined areas only in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, in the Snowy Mountains of Australia in Kiandra, New South Wales (only dashes) and the Andes Mountains of Argentina and Chile.


Use in climate modeling

Since climate regimes tend to be dominated by vegetation of one region with relatively homogenous ecology, those that project climate change remap their results in the form of climate regimes as an alternative way to explain expected changes.


See also

*Continental climate


References

{{Koppen Köppen climate types Climate of North America Climate of Europe Climate of Asia Trees of humid continental climate,