Climate Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

The Amazon rainforest. The Sahara Desert. The Arctic Circle. All of these locations are part of our world, but their climates are drastically different. In this lesson, you will learn the definition of climate and the different climate zones in our world.

Shorts for a Snowball Fight?

Imagine that you and a friend are each taking a vacation. You are going on a cruise in the sunny Pacific Ocean. Your friend is climbing in the Swiss Alps. Just like you probably wouldn't pack snow pants and a heavy jacket for an island adventure, your friend probably wouldn't want to have a snowball fight in shorts and a t-shirt!

The difference in how you and your friend would pack for your trips is due to the climate. Climate is the pattern of weather in an area over a period of time. It's not the daily or weekly weather you see on the news. Climate is determined by looking at the weather patterns over a long period of time, usually around 30 years.

An area's climate is determined by observing a number of different factors. These factors include:

  • temperature
  • humidity, or the amount of water vapor in the air
  • distance from bodies of water
  • wind
  • amount and types of precipitation
  • topography, or an area's land and water features (such as mountains, lakes and rivers)
  • latitude, or the distance north or south of the equator
  • elevation, or how far above sea level the area is located

Climate Groups

By looking at the factors of an area's climate, scientists generally group the climate into one of five main climate groups. A sixth climate group, called a highland, is found in high elevations; however, it is not always listed as a climate group and will not be covered in this lesson.

Tropical

Tropical climates all experience heat and periods of heavy rainfall. They're found mostly on either side of the equator, in Asia, Africa, and South America, and include rainforests and tropical wet and dry climates. Rainforests are always warm and humid and have lots of rain. Tropical wet and dry climates, like a savanna, experience seasons with a lot of rainfall and other seasons with little rainfall.


Map of Tropical Climates.
map of tropical climates


Dry

Dry climates are hot and receive little precipitation. Most of these climates are located in Africa and Australia. Arid dry climates, or deserts, receive less than a foot of rain a year. Semi-arid climates, or grasslands, receive more rain allowing plant life to grow. Could you survive the heat and lack of water in this climate?

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