A temperate climate is one with mild to warm summers and cool to cold winters. A temperate climate has rainfall spread across the year or portion of the year with sporadic drought and sometimes very heavy rain or snow. A temperate climate has seasons and seasonal changes.
The temperate climate zones lie between Earth’s tropical and polar regions. There are two temperate climate zones, the northern temperate zone lies between the Arctic (North Pole) and the tropical region or climate that follows the Equator around the middle of the Earth, and the southern temperate zone lies between Antarctica (South Pole) and the equatorial tropical zone to the north.
The temperate climate zones are known for their relatively moderate weather; they are not cold like the Arctic and Antarctica, and they are not very warm or hot like the tropics. Temperate climates lack extreme temperature swings. That does not mean temperate climate zones always have mild weather. Temperate climates have seasons that are cool or cold (autumn and winter), and seasons that are warm or hot (spring and summer). Commonly temperature climate zones will experience some rain in most months; in the tropical climate zone there is a rainy season and a dry season and each lasts several months.
The temperate climate zones lie between 30° and 60° latitude in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Much of the United States, Europe, and Russia lie within the northern temperate zone, while the very southern part of South America and parts of Australia and New Zealand lie within the southern temperate zone. The northern and southern temperate zones do not receive the intense sunlight that the Equator and surrounding tropical zone get and they do not experience the extreme angles of sunlight that the poles do.
Temperate climates can be divided into two types: maritime and continental. Maritime climates occur in regions close to an ocean. The temperature in maritime climates does not change greatly, that’s because ocean water holds a lot of heat; the oceans hold heat long after the land cools down and so maritime climates do not experience extremes in temperature; the temperature stays relatively mild and unchanged most of the year. Continental climates are away from the oceans and landlocked. Continental climates experience greater variations in temperature because there are great bodies of water to moderate the temperature; continental climates have hot summers and cold winters. The temperatures in maritime climates do not vary up or down by more than 50°F (27.7°C) throughout the year. The temperature in continental climates can vary by as much as 104°F (57°C) from summer to winter.
Most of the world’s human population lives in temperate zones, especially in the northern hemisphere. That is simply because most of the land on Earth lies in the northern hemisphere’s temperate climate zone. Interestingly, the greatest diversity of plant life on Earth is in the southern temperate climate zone, specifically southern Africa where there 24,000 different species of plants.