What is the Climate of North America?

North America: The Climate

Diverse Climate Zones

The continent of North America contains every climate zone. Since it covers a broad area, it also is able to be in different parts of the world that are going to have different hotter or colder temperatures, wetter or drier environments, and, therefore, it encompasses all climate zones. There are tropical rainforests and savannas in the lowlands of Central America. You’ve got tropical rainforest, the lush greenery, lots of rain, and savannas, wide open grasslands where mainly grass is but other things can grow.

It’s wide open space and it’s going to receive enough rainfall to keep up with that growth. You’ve got those kind of areas in Central America. Permanent ice caps exist in the middle of Greenland. That means there is ice there that never melts because the temperatures stay so cold there. In northern Canada, which is also a cold area, the climate is mostly subarctic and tundra. These climates are also found in northern Alaska.

In the northern areas where it’s cold but not quite as cold as these ice caps, you’ll get subarctic and tundra climates. These areas are going to be very cold, usually very dry, and you’re not going to have a lot of things that can grow. It’s going to be harder shrubbery with leaves that can withstand more of a colder temperature. You’re not going to get the same kind of plants you’d get in a milder climate. Without there being as much moisture, you’re not going to get as much growing in those areas as well.

Mountain Range Influences

The two major mountain ranges of the continent, which are the Appalachians and the Rockies, affect the climate greatly. Think about these mountain ranges. They’re going to be really high up and they’re going to be splitting one side of the continent from the other. They’re also going to be keeping certain things on one side and preventing them from getting to the other. In the interior regions close to the Rocky Mountains, the climate and terrain is mostly semiarid and desert.

These areas are largely prevented from receiving westerly winds and storms, which also means they’re not receiving a lot of moisture. If they don’t get warm winds carrying moisture, if they don’t get storms providing precipitation, then the area is going to stay dry. Now, these are interior regions. That means that it’s going to be to the east of the coast and it’s going to be further away from the coast. You’re not going to be getting any of the moisture from being close to an ocean.

The areas close to the oceans may have more of a Mediterranean climate, where they’re able to get moisture in off of the ocean. These areas are in between the two mountain ranges and up away from the southern coast. They’re just kind of in the middle there. They’re blocked from receiving any wind or rain, any clouds that might come that way and bring the moisture. These areas are mainly semiarid and desert, which are going to be very dry.

Again, much like your subarctic and tundra, they aren’t going to have a lot of things growing there. The things that do grow there have to be very hardy, able to withstand not getting moisture for a long period of time. However, most of North America has a temperate climate and is hospitable to settlement and agriculture. Temperate means that it’s tempered. It’s kind of in the middle. It’s not too hot. It’s not too cold. It is not too wet. It’s not too dry.

A lot of the land gets a cold time, but it also gets a warm time. Things are able to grow in cycles. They still get plenty of moisture, so things are able to grow well during the times when it is warm. During the colder seasons, things die off, but they do come back once it warms up again. Most of North America has this temperate climate, where everything’s pretty mild. You’ll get a mild cold season, but not to where you’ve got subarctic and tundra conditions.

You’ll get a hot season, but not to where it’s semiarid and desert where there’s not any precipitation and everything is just kind of dry and dying off unless it’s a hardier plate. Everything is kind of moderated in this temperate climate. North America has a variety of types of landforms and it covers a large amount of area geographically. It also encompasses a lot of climate zones. In fact, it contains every climate zone within its continent.



by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: February 13, 2024