All climates are the product of many factors, includinglatitude, elevation, topography, distance from the ocean, and location on a continent. The rainy tropical climate of West Africa, for example, results from the region’s location near the Equator and its position on the western side of the continent. A constant amount of sunlight keeps temperatures in the area warm and steady. West Africa is also at the site where moist trade winds meet, an area called theintertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) (pronounced “itch”). As a result, the region’s climate is warm and rainy.
Tropical wet climates exist in a band extending about 10 degrees of latitude on either side of the Equator. This part of the globe is always under the influence of the intertropical convergence zone. The zone follows a pendulum-like path during the course of a year, moving back and forth across the Equator with the seasons. It moves north during summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and south during the northern winter.
The third type of climate, tropical wet and dry climate, has three seasons. These areas are just outside the ITCZ, near the Equator. One season is cool and dry when the warm, moist ITCZ is in the opposite hemisphere. Another season is hot and dry as the ITCZ approaches. The last season is hot and wet as the ITCZ arrives and the region experiences months as a tropical wet climate.
Weather on both sides of a continent generally becomes cooler as latitude increases and areas are closer to the poles. The marine west coast climate, a type of mild climate typical of cities such as Seattle, Washington, in the U.S. and Wellington, New Zealand, has a longer, cooler winter than the Mediterranean climate. Drizzle falls about two-thirds of winter days, and temperatures average about 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit).
There are three types of continental climate—warm summer, cool summer, and...