Microclimate Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Sara Clarke-Vivier

Sara is a recently graduated PhD in Education with interdisciplinary experience in K-12 education.

Microclimates are small areas with different weather patterns than the places around them. What makes this happen? In this lesson, we will explore the factors that shape microclimates.

Climates & Microclimates

Imagine you are walking through a grassy plain. The sun is hot and a dry wind is blowing. You're walking towards a thick group of trees and when you step into this forest, you notice some differences. All of a sudden, the temperature is cool and the air is damp. You have entered a microclimate!

A cool, damp forest microclimate
Forest Microclimate

Before we talk about microclimates, let's remember what the word 'climate' means. Climate describes the weather in a place over a long period of time. 'Micro-' means 'small,' so a microclimateis the climate of a small, restricted area that is different than the climate around it.

What Makes a Microclimate?

There are a few ways microclimates can be made. First, the shape of the land can impact the area's weather. Places that are high have different weather than places that are low. The shape of the land is can be natural or changed by humans. Houses, rocks, and cars can all change the climate in a small area.

Water is another factor. Places near water tend to have different climates than other areas. Lakes, streams, and even the ocean can change the climate of the areas nearest to them. This is because water gains and loses heat more slowly than land does.

Soil can shape climate, too. Soils that hold lots of water, like the rich soils in the jungle, make the air wet and humid. Dry soils, like desert sand, do not hold water in the same way. The plants that grow in the soil also impact the climate. Plants absorb heat and water, two factors that contribute to an area's microclimate.

Types of Microclimates


Upland areas are places where the land in one area is higher than in the surrounding areas. Upland microclimates tend to be cooler and windier than the areas around them. If you imagine the difference between standing in a low, damp valley and standing on the cool, windy edge of a nearby hill, you've got the right idea about an upland microclimate.


The word 'coastal' means near the coast. This means that you will find coastal microclimates in the areas between the land and the sea. The sea is really good at maintaining a temperature; - it's very slow to warm up in the spring and slow to cool down in the fall. This means that the temperature in places near the sea tends to be constant throughout the year. Coastal microclimates are also impacted by the wind from the sea.

Cliffs near the ocean are both upland and coastal areas.
A Costal Microclimate

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