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Continental climate: what is it, characteristics and types

Although there are different climates on the planet, it could be said that the continental climate is one of the most impressive, since in it, the seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) differ very well between them.

If you are interested in learning about the different climates of the planet and want to know in more detail the continental climate and the types in which it is classified, continue reading this interesting article by EcologiaVerde, because below we detail what the continental climate is, its characteristics, types, flora and fauna .

What is the continental climate

The continental climate is one that presents the four seasons : spring, summer, autumn and winter. These seasons are perfectly differentiated, since in each one of them both the temperature and the rainfall change. For example, the temperature in summer is much higher than in winter and also rainfall in winter is abundant and in summer scarce.

Characteristics of the continental climate

These are the main characteristics of the continental climate :

  • Present throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere, in Central Asia, Iran, the United States, Canada, and Central and Western Europe. Although it also occurs in some territories in the southern hemisphere such as in the interior of Argentina and in North Africa.
  • It is known as a temperate climatic zone, since it is characteristic of mid-latitudes.
  • It presents clearly marked temperatures with hot and rainy summers, and cold and dry winters.
  • In spring, temperatures range between 5 ºC and 15 ºC, and with respect to rainfall they are scarce, although it can reach 40 mm per month.
  • In summer, maximum temperatures of 32 ºC are reached, and in terms of rainfall they reach between 50 and 100 mm per month.
  • When autumn arrives, the temperature begins to drop to a minimum of 10 ºC and a maximum to 20 ºC. Producing the first frosts at the end of September.
  • Winter is the coldest season, with heavy frosts and snowfalls. In this season the maximum temperature is 10ºC, and the minimum temperature exceeds sub-zero temperatures reaching -10ºC.

Types of continental climate

The characteristics of the continental climate have already been shown, but to know it in more detail, it is important to know the different types that exist, which differ depending on their geographical location. Thus, among the existing types of continental climate are known:

  • Continentalized Mediterranean climate: you are characterized by having cold winters even with frosts and very hot summers. It occurs in northern Italy, the Saharan Atlas, the interior of the Iberian Peninsula, among others. You may also be interested in knowing what is the temperate Mediterranean climate .
  • Manchurian continental climate: present in northern China, North Korea, and several Russian cities. It has an annual average temperature that ranges between 0 ºC and 10 ºC and with an annual rainfall of 500 mm.
  • Humid continental climate: it is very similar to the Manchurian continental climate, although it is a bit colder and drier. It occurs in almost all central and eastern Europe, and also in the southeastern Canadian country.
  • Arid continental climate: characterized by a cool climate with some frosts in winter and very warm in summer. Some places where it occurs are in Mongolia and Central Asia.

Flora and fauna of the continental climate

The continental climate has its own biodiversity that characterizes it, so information on the vegetation of the continental climate and its fauna will be shown below:

Plants of the continental climate

The deciduous forests , are composed primarily coniferous, such as fir, cypress, larch or pine, and they are what we can find in this climate. There are also species such as oak and maple in these forests. They are tree species well adapted to changes in temperature and rainfall that occur between season and season, winter is also the hardest season and trees stop their activity to save energy. However, when the temperatures are not extremely hot and there is abundant rainfall, the trees take advantage to grow. It is also worth mentioning that very high temperatures lead to high perspiration in the trees, which is why they can enter a dormant period, that is, the tree temporarily suspends its activity, to avoid large losses of water due to perspiration.

Learn more about this vegetation and more details with this other article about Deciduous Forests: characteristics, flora and fauna .

Animals of the continental climate

Animals that inhabit areas characterized by this climate do not have it easy at all, due to the marked climatic changes that occur between the different seasons. Winter is the hardest season and that is why many animals, such as bears, wolves, deer, weasels, squirrels or reindeer must seek protection from temperatures so low that they can be reached. Birds also migrate to warmer areas. Here you can learn about migratory birds: names, characteristics and photos .

In addition, their activity should be reduced to a minimum, some of them entering hibernation period, to reduce energy, since at this time of year food is scarce. Fortunately, when spring arrives, the forest comes back to life in all its splendor. We recommend you discover which animals hibernate and why .

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