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Continental Climates

Continental climates have large swings in temperature because they are away from the ocean's moderation of climate.

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Continental Climates

Where don't you go to experience a continental climate?

There are no continental climates in the Southern Hemisphere. Can you guess why? Continental climates are between 40° and 70°. The southern continents at this latitude are too narrow. All of their inland areas are close enough to a coast to be affected by the ocean!

Continental Climates

Continental climates are found in inland areas. They are too far from oceans to experience the effects of ocean water. Continental climates are common between 40° and 70° north latitude.

Humid Continental Climate

Humid continental climates are found between 40° and 60° north latitude. The northeastern U.S. has this type of climate. Summers are warm to hot, and winters are cold. Precipitation is moderate, and it falls year round. Deciduous trees grow in this climate (Figure below). They lose their leaves in the fall and grow new ones in the spring.

The deciduous forests of Vermont begin to lose their leaves in the fall

The deciduous forests of Vermont begin to lose their leaves in the fall

Subarctic Climate

Subarctic climates are found between 60° and 70° north latitude. Much of Canada and Alaska have this type of climate. Summers are cool and short. Winters are very cold and long. Little precipitation falls, and most of it falls during the summer. Conifer forests grow in this climate (Figure below).

A conifer forest in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

A conifer forest in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.


  • Continental climates are far enough way from the ocean that there is no influence.
  • Deciduous trees are common in humid continental climates. Conifer forests grow in the subarctic.
  • Humid continental climates have warm winters and cold summers. Subarctic climates have cool short summers and very cold winters.


  1. What is the main features of a continental climate?
  2. What are the temperature and precipitation conditions of the two climates described here?
  3. What is the difference in trees in the two climate types described here?

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