Marine West Coast: Definition, Climate and Location

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
The climate on North America's marine west coast has unique weather patterns, resulting in mild summers and warmer winters. Explore the causes for this climate, and the different plants that thrive amidst the dramatic precipitation year-round. Updated: 11/10/2021

Definition of the Marine West Coast

The marine west coast climate is a biome characteristic of being located mid-way between the tropics and arctic or antarctic regions of the world, most often between 35 and 60 degrees north. This climate's major characteristics are mild summers and winters and abundant annual precipitation. This ecosystem is highly influenced by its proximity to the coast and to mountains. It is sometimes known as the humid west coast climate or the oceanic climate. In additional to coastal plains and mountains, this type of climate is often characterized by glacial valleys and fjords.

Marine west coast climates are typically found to the west of large mountain ranges that cause fronts to collide and release all of their precipitation. Wet warm air from the coast rises and cools as it goes over the mountain. This causes the water in the air to cool and condense, resulting in rain, drizzle, and fog. Then drier air proceeds inland. This is known as the rainshadow effect, which in basic terms is when a mountain blocks the advance of wet weather, creating a dry biome on the other side and a wet biome on the ocean side. This results in a very special climate.

Think of areas such as British Columbia in Canada, Washington and Oregon in the United States, and most of the continent of Europe. Parts of Africa and Australia are also considered marine west coast despite not being located on a west coast of the continent.

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  • 0:02 Marine West Coast Definition
  • 1:29 Climate of Marine West Coast
  • 2:28 Plants of Marine West Coast
  • 3:15 Lesson Summary
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Climate of Marine West Coast

The temperature of marine west coast ecosystems is very mild and does not fluctuate greatly. There are only two seasons, summer and winter. The average low is 30 degrees Fahrenheit in winter months and can reach 72 degrees F in summer months. This region is known for its wet, humid air. This region is so humid because it can receive 30-98 inches of rain in a year. Think of Portland, Oregon: it's known for being wet and generally very mild. However, it can get rain 150 of 365 days a year, common in marine west coast climates.

European marine west coast climates extend further inland than on the west coast of the United States. This is due to orientation of mountains in a west to east direction instead of north to south. So ocean air masses enter further inland and rain falls over a greater distance. Generally, the marine west coast climate is considered moderate due to its excess precipitation and stable temperatures.

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