A tropical climate is a region that is warm all year-round and experiences abundant annual rainfall. Tropical climates are found at or near the Equator–below latitude 23 in both the southern and northern hemispheres–that is between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Tropical climates are found in Central America, part of South America, Central Africa, southern portions of Asia, and parts of Australia and the Pacific Ocean islands.
Climate scientists use average monthly temperatures as one way to classify the climate of a region as tropical. Tropical climates commonly experience temperatures between 77° and 82°F (18°C) almost year-round. Along with warm temperatures, tropical climates also experience abundant annual rainfall. Many tropical regions average between 80 and 180 inches (200-450 cm) of rainfall each year, and some areas much more.
There are three basic types of tropical climate: the tropical rainforest climate, the tropical monsoon climate, and the tropical wet and dry or savanna climate. Scientists distinguish the difference between each of the three by the amount of annual rainfall in each.
The tropical rainforest climate is located from 5 to 10 degrees north and south of the equator The average annual temperature is between 70°F and 85°F (21-30°C) and rainfall can exceed 100 inches a year. Tropical rainforest climates include the upper Amazon basin of South America, the Congo basin of Africa, and the islands of the East Indies.
The tropical monsoon climate is somewhat similar to the tropical rainforest climate; it is warm or hot year-round and experiences abundant rainfall, but the rainfall is uneven. Rainfall is heavy from mid-June through September–as much as 130 inches (341 cm) of rain, then there is a cool dry period from October through February, followed by a hot dry period from March to mid-June. The tropical monsoon climate is found in the south and southeast Asia region between the latitude of 10 degrees north and the Tropic of Cancer. These regions include India, the Philippines, the northern coast of Australia, and the Hainan Island of China.
The tropical savanna climate is located at the outer edge of the tropical latitudes, between 10° and 20° north-south latitude. Tropical savannas are found in central Africa, parts of South America, and parts of northern and eastern Australia. The average temperature range of the tropical savanna climate is between 68°F and 86°F (20-30°C). In summer, the temperature is between 77 ° and 86 °F (25-30°C), while in winter the temperature is between 68° and 86° (20-30°C). Annual rainfall in the tropical savanna is between 27 and 43 inches (70-100 cm). The driest months are from November to March when as little as 2 inches (6 cm) of rain falls.