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How the relief influences the climate

Climate is the set of atmospheric characteristics that define a region of the planet during the different seasons and throughout the year. There are different non-atmospheric factors that influence the configuration of the climate in an area. These are factors such as relief, altitude, latitude, continentality or vegetation. But, for example, what is really the influence of relief on climate?

In this AgroCorrn article, we discuss in detail how relief influences the climate and other factors and elements that affect the climate of a region.

Climate and weather

Sometimes there is confusion between the concepts climate and time, but both refer to different time scales. With time we refer to the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place and can vary with the passing of hours and days, while climate is an average of meteorological time over a longer period of time and can be measured by different instruments.

The concept of climate has varied over the years, currently being considered as the system constituted by the components that exchange matter and energy and are directed by the sun’s energy. Energy directs the climate, mobilizing all these components and is returned to outer space, maintaining equilibrium and constant temperature. When the climate of a certain area differs from that of surrounding areas, we speak of a topoclimate , but if this area is very small, we speak of a microclimate .

The climate of a certain region strongly influences the vegetation and fauna of that region, since it plays a fundamental role in the physiological processes of organisms such as development, growth, health or pathological states. The human being, in turn, influences the climate by emitting chemicals and pollutants. Furthermore, the climate varies throughout different geological periods, which the science of climatology attempts to predict.

According to the Köppen classification , there are 6 types of climates defined by temperature and pressure. These types are ordered geographically from the equator to the poles:

  • Rainy tropical climates.
  • Dry climates.
  • Rainy temperate climates.
  • Cold winter climates.
  • Polar climates.
  • High mountain climates.

How the relief affects the climate

Given the initial doubt in this article about how relief influences the climate , we will explain it to you in this section below.

Specifically, relief is related to the shape of the land surface or relief , such as the presence of mountains. The relief influences temperature and precipitation patterns . For example, in the highest mountainous areas, the air masses when colliding with these bodies, rise and as a consequence the temperature decreases with altitude and the frequency of rains increases. When the air is saturated with water vapor, precipitation is generated and when it passes through the mountain range, it loses moisture, generating drier climates.

You may be interested in learning more about this topic by looking at this example in which we explain why it doesn’t rain in the Atacama desert .

Other elements and factors that influence the climate

The factors and elements that influence the climate can be directly related to meteorological factors such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity or rainfall, but these factors are also influenced by non-meteorological factors , apart from the relief already explained, such as:


Latitude refers to the distance between a certain point on the earth’s surface and the Equator (an imaginary line that passes through the earth’s center). Latitude is important because it determines the inclination with which the Sun’s rays strike the Earth, determining factors such as the length of days and nights and the temperature of a certain region.


Altitude is the distance between sea level (0 meters altitude) and a certain point on the earth’s surface. Altitude influences atmospheric pressure, rainfall or temperature. The higher the altitude, the lower the atmospheric pressure and temperature, which is why the mountain peaks are covered in snow.


The concept of continentality refers to the distance from a point to the sea. The sea acts as a thermal regulator that heats up and cools more slowly than the land surface. As a consequence, the regions closer to the sea have a more moderate and more stable temperature than those regions further from the sea. Also, they influence the humidity and amount of rainfall.

Ocean currents

Ocean currents consist of the displacement of large masses of water within the oceans. These currents take place due to temperature differences between two points in the ocean. These bodies of water that move, warm or cool the air that circulates through the areas through which they pass and, therefore, influence humidity and atmospheric pressure.


Vegetation moderates temperature, filters solar radiation, produces humidity and modifies the rainfall of a region. For example, in this other AgroCorrn article you will be able to delve into this topic by discovering why trees attract rain and, in this other, you will be able to learn why trees attract rays .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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