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The average year after year conditions of temperature, precipitation, winds, and clouds in an area.


A small area with climate conditions that differ from those around it.

tropical zone

The area near the equator, between about 23.5 degrees north and south latitudes.

polar zone

Extends from about 66.5 to 90 degrees north and south latitudes.

temperate zone

The zone between the tropical and polar zone.

marine climate

Climates with relatively mild winters and cool summers.

continental climate

Have more extreme temperatures than marine climates. Winters are cold, while summers are warm or hot.


The side of the mountain that the wind hits.


The downwind side of the mountain that is in a rain shadow. Little precipitation falls there.


Sea and land breezes over a large region that changes direction with the seasons.

rain forest

Forests in which large amounts of rain fall year round.


Tropical grasslands.


Arid regions.


A dry place, but gets enough rainfall for short grasses and low bushes to grow.

humid subtropical

A climate that is wet and warm, but not as constantly hot as the tropics.


Climates that lie north of the humid continental climate. Summers are short and cool, while winters are long and bitterly cold.


A climate region that stretches across northern Alaska, Canada, and Russia. Short cool summers follow bitterly cold winters.


Permanently frozen tundra soil.

ice age

Warm periods that have alternated with cold periods or glacial episodes.


Dark, cooler regions on the surface of the sun.

El Nino

A warm water event.

La Nina

A climate event when surface waters in the eastern Pacific are colder than normal.

global warming

A gradual increase in the temperature of Earth's atmosphere.

greenhouse gas

Gases in the atmosphere that trap energy.


A group of compounds that is a major cause of ozone depletion.

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