Climate maps
World North America


Scientists define a desert as a region that receives less than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of rain per year. About one-third of Earth's land surface is desert. Deserts may be hot or cold, with great expanses of barren sand or snow or sandy gravel with hardy vegetation. In hot deserts precipitation falls as rain; in cold deserts, it falls as snow. Both types of desert have there is very little precipitation and very low humidity.
The hot arid climate zone in the western United States has predictably warm, dry winters and very hot, dry summers. Arizona and parts of Nevada, Utah, and California are sunny and dry all year. Little rain falls during most of the year. During the summer the temperature can be very high, and thunderstorms can deliver heavy rains that can cause flash floods. The hot arid zone supports a wide diversity of drought-resistant plants, including cactus, mesquite, and yucca, and a host of burrowing and sun-loving animals.
The interior continental semiarid zone is characterized by warm spring and summer weather, cold winters, and summer thunderstorms with the possibility of tornadoes. The semiarid climate supports large expanses of sagebrush and huge grasslands. Land in the interior continental semiarid zone is often used by ranchers to graze livestock.

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Polar/High Altitude

Two climate zones occur in Alaska. They are the subarctic and the arctic. The climate is extremely cold most of the year, with variable precipitation.
The high-altitude zone found high in the mountains supports large forests of evergreen trees and provides the right conditions for skiing and other winter sports requiring snow.

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The humid midaltitude climate zone includes the midwestern United States, New England, and the southern part of Canada. This climate zone supports huge diverse forests of deciduous and evergreen trees and all the animals that forests support.

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Hawaii has a tropical wet and dry climate, warm and sunny all year long with plenty of tropical rain in many parts of the islands.

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Weather in the dry subtropical zone is usually warm and rainy in the winter but hot and dry in the summer. The dry subtropical zone supports oak woodlands, chaparral, and a very diverse community of brush, grasses, and mixed forests. Dry subtropical climates are excellent for farming, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, and raising livestock.
The weather in the southeastern United States is significantly different. Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and North Carolina rarely have snow in the winter, and the summers and springs are rainy, hot, and humid. The southern states fall into the humid subtropical climate zone. This zone supports large hardwood forests and many kind of vines.
The temperate marine zone of the Pacific Northwest is cool and wet throughout the year. The climate is strongly influenced by the Pacific Ocean, which keeps the weather cool and moist. This climate zone is characterized by dense forests of large evergreen trees: redwood, fir, pine, and spruce. The moist forests are often home to ferns, mosses, lichens, and fungi. Winters are cool and rainy, while summers are cool and can be foggy and wet.

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