Climate of Europe

Biomes of Europe and surrounding regions:
     tundra      alpine tundra      taiga      montane forest
     temperate broadleaf forest      mediterranean forest      temperate steppe      dry steppe

The climate of Europe is of a temperate, continental nature, with a maritime climate prevailing on the western coasts and a mediterranean climate in the south. The climate is strongly conditioned by the Gulf Stream, which warms the western region to levels unattainable at similar latitudes on other continents. Western Europe is oceanic, while eastern Europe is continental and dry. Four seasons occur in western Europe, while southern Europe experiences a wet season and a dry season. Southern Europe is hot and dry during the summer months. The heaviest precipitation occurs downwind of water bodies due to the prevailing westerlies, with higher amounts also seen in the Alps. Tornadoes occur within Europe, but tend to be weak. The Netherlands and United Kingdom experience a disproportionately high number of tornadic events.



Europe's climate is of a temperate, continental nature, with a maritime climate prevailing on the western coasts and a mediterranean climate in the south. The climate is strongly conditioned by the Gulf Stream, which warms the western region to levels unattainable at similar latitudes on other continents. Prevailing westerlies (conditioned by the Azores High) bring rain from the Atlantic ocean to the west, while the Siberian High brings colder, drier weather from the east. There is a cycle of four seasons in the west, while the east tends to a two-season, hot and cold cycle.

Gulf Stream

Image of the Gulf Stream's path and its related branches

The climate is milder in comparison to other areas of the same latitude around the globe due to the influence of the Gulf Stream.[1] The Gulf Stream is nicknamed "Europe's central heating", because it makes Europe's climate warmer and wetter than it would otherwise be. The extent of the Gulf Stream's contribution to the actual temperature differential between North America and Europe is a matter of dispute as there is an alternative opinion within the science community that this temperature difference is mainly due to the Atlantic Ocean being upwind of western Europe (producing an oceanic climate) and a landmass being upwind of the east coast of North America.[2]

The average temperature throughout the year of Naples is 16 °C (60.8 °F), while it is only 12 °C (53.6 °F) in New York City which is almost on the same latitude. Berlin, Germany; Calgary, Canada; and Irkutsk, in the Asian part of Russia, lie on around the same latitude; January temperatures in Berlin average around 8 °C (15 °F) higher than those in Calgary, and they are almost 22 °C (40 °F) higher than average temperatures in Irkutsk.[1] This difference is even larger on the northern part of the continent; the January average in Brønnøysund, Norway,[3] is almost 15 °C warmer than the January average in Nome, Alaska,[4] even if both towns are situated upwind on the west coast of the continents at 65°N, and as much as 42°C warmer than January average in Yakutsk which is actually slightly further south.[5]


Clouds over Europe, September 2011

On an annual basis, rainfall across the continent is favored within the Alps, and from Slovenia southward to the western coast of Greece.[6] Other maxima exist in western Georgia, northwest Spain, western Great Britain, and western Norway. The maxima along the eastern coasts of water bodies is due to the westerly wind flow which dominates across the continent. A bulk of the precipitation across the Alps falls between March and November. The wet season in lands bordering the Mediterranean sea lasts from October through March, with November and December typically the wettest months.[6] For example, the monthly rainfall at Athens ranges from 6 mm (July) during their dry season to 71 mm (December) during their wet season.[7] Summer rainfall across the continent evaporates completely into the warm atmosphere, leaving winter precipitation to be the source of groundwater for Europe.[8] Places with significant impact by acid rain across the continent include most of eastern Europe from Poland northward into Scandinavia.[9]

The European Monsoon (more commonly known as the Return of the Westerlies) is the result of a resurgence of westerly winds from the Atlantic, where they become loaded with wind and rain.[10] These Westerly winds are a common phenomenon during the European winter, but they ease as Spring approaches in late March and through April and May. The winds pick up again in June, which is why this phenomenon is also referred to as "the return of the westerlies".[11]

The rain usually arrives in two waves, at the beginning of June and again in mid to late June. The European monsoon is not a monsoon in the traditional sense in that it doesn't meet all the requirements to be classified as such. Instead the Return of the Westerlies is more regarded as a conveyor belt that delivers a series of low pressure centres to Western Europe where they create unseasonable weather. These storms generally feature significantly lower than average temperatures, fierce rain or hail, thunder and strong winds.[12] The Return of the Westerlies affects Europe's Northern Atlantic coastline, such as Ireland, Great Britain, the Benelux countries, Western Germany, Northern France and parts of Scandinavia.

There are cycles seen within the rainfall data from Northern Europe between Great Britain and Germany, which are seen at 16 years. Southern Europe experiences a 22-year cycle in rainfall variation. Other smaller term cycles are seen at 10-12 year and 6-7 year periods within the rainfall record.[13] Long term trends suggest rainfall within Greece has been decreasing since 1981.[14]

Rainfall averages between 36 mm (March)to 54 mm (November) in London and from 36 mm (March) to 88 mm (July) in Moscow.[15][16]


Temperatures average between 2°C at night (January) and 23°C during the day (July) in London,[15] from 5°C at night (January) to 33°C during the day (July) in Athens[17] and from -10°C at night (January) to 23°C during the day (July) in Moscow.[18] Among the all cities with a population over 100,000 people in Europe, the warmest winters in continent there are three Spain cities - Almeria, Alicante and Malaga (of population over 500,000) with 16–17 °C (61–63 °F) during the day in January. Among the all capitals in Europe, the warmest winters in continent occurs - Valletta in Malta with 15–16 °C (59–61 °F) during the day. Among the all cities with a population over 100,000 people in Europe, the warmest summer in continent occurs - Seville in Spain, with 35.3 °C (95.5 °F) during the day[19] and among the all capitals in Europe - Athens in Greece with 33.5 °C (92.3 °F) during the day in July.

Mildest climate occurs in northwest part of Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), between Bilbao, A Coruña and Porto. In this the coastal strand, there are mild winters and summers, with the average temperature varies from 10–14 °C (50–57 °F) during the day and about 5 °C (41 °F) at night in January to 22–26 °C (72–79 °F) during the day and 15–16 °C (59–61 °F) at day night in the middle of summer.

Average temperature (°C) during the day
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Minsk[20] -2.7 -1.4 3.3 11.5 18.3 21.5 22.4 22.2 15.9 9.6 2.6 -1.0 10.1
Paris[21] 6.9 8.2 11.8 14.7 19.0 21.8 24.4 24.6 20.8 15.8 10.4 7.8 15.5
Barcelona[22][23] 13.4 14.6 15.9 17.6 20.5 24.2 27.5 28.0 25.5 21.5 17.0 14.3 20.0
Lisbon[24] 14.5 15.9 18.2 19.2 21.4 24.8 27.5 27.8 26.2 22.1 18.0 15.2 20.9
Malaga[25][26] 16.6 17.7 19.1 20.9 23.8 27.3 29.9 30.3 27.9 23.7 19.9 17.4 22.9
Average sea temperature (°C)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Gdańsk [1] 4 3 3 4 8 13 16 18 15 12 9 6
Brighton [2] 9 8 8 9 11 13 15 17 17 16 13 11
Marseille [3] 13 13 13 14 16 18 21 22 21 18 16 14
Barcelona [4] 13 13 13 14 17 20 23 25 23 20 17 15
Lisbon [5] 15 15 15 16 17 18 19 20 20 19 18 17
Valencia [6] 14 13 14 15 17 21 24 26 24 21 18 15
Malaga [7] 16 15 15 16 17 20 22 23 22 20 18 16
Naples [8] 15 14 14 15 18 22 25 27 25 22 19 16
Athens [9] 16 15 15 16 18 21 24 24 24 21 19 17
Malta [10] 16 16 15 16 18 21 24 26 25 23 21 18


The Netherlands has the highest average number of recorded tornadoes per area of any country (more than 20, or 0.0013 per sq mi (0.00048 per km2), annually), followed by the UK (around 33, or 0.00035 per sq mi (0.00013 per km2), per year),[27][28] but most are small and cause minor damage. In absolute number of events, ignoring area, the UK experiences more tornadoes than any other European country, excluding waterspouts.[29] Europe uses its own tornado scale, known as the TORRO scale, which ranges from a T0 for extremely weak tornadoes to T11 for the most powerful known tornadoes.[30]

See also


  1. ^ a b "European Climate". World Book. World Book, Inc. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  2. ^ Seager, Richard (July–August, 2006). "The Source of Europe's Mild Climate". American Scientist Online. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  3. ^ Brønnøysund
  4. ^ Nome
  5. ^ Yakutsk
  6. ^ a b A. V. Mehta and S. Yang (2008-12-22). "Precipitation climatology over Mediterranean Basin from ten years of TRMM measurements". Advances in Geosciences (Copernicus Publications) 17: 87–91. Bibcode 2008AdG....17...87M. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  7. ^ Athens, Greece(retrieved 9 January 2010)
  8. ^ Richard Thornsen (1990). "Effect of Climate Variability and Change in Groundwater in Europe". Nordic Hydrology 21: 187. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  9. ^ Ed. Hatier (1993). "Acid Rain in Europe". United Nations Environment Programme GRID Arendal. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  10. ^ Visser, S.W. (1953). Some remarks on the European monsoon. Birkhäuser: Basel.
  11. ^ Leo Hickman (2008-07-09). "The Question: What is the European monsoon?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  12. ^ Paul Simons (2009-06-07). "'European Monsoon' to blame for cold and rainy start to June". The Times. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  13. ^ R. G. Vines (1985-03-25). "European Rainfall Patterns". International Journal of Climatology 5 (6): 607–616. Bibcode 1985IJCli...5..607V. doi:10.1002/joc.3370050603. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  14. ^ J. D. Pnevmatikos and B. D. Katsoulis (2006-05-31). "The changing rainfall regime in Greece and its impact on climatological means". Meteorological Applications (Cambridge University Press) 13 (4): 331–345. doi:10.1017/S1350482706002350.;jsessionid=44CA109B0AF7BF141C3680B5C8358BA0.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=600036. 
  15. ^ a b Average conditions: London, United Kingdom(retrieved 9 January 2010)
  16. ^ Average conditions: Moscow, Russian Federation(retrieved 9 january 2010)
  17. ^ "Weather Information for Athens". 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Sevilla Aeropuerto". AEMET. Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  20. ^ "" (in Russian). Retrieved 8 September 2007. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Weather Information for Barcelona - World Meteorological Organization (UN)". 
  23. ^ "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Barcelona / Aeropuerto - Agencia Estatal de Meteorología". 
  24. ^ "Monthly Averages for Lisbon, Portugal". Instituto de Meteorologia. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  25. ^ "Weather Information for Málaga - World Meteorological Organization (UN)". 
  26. ^ "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Málaga / Aeropuerto - Agencia Estatal de Meteorología". 
  27. ^ J Holden, A Wright (2003-03-13). "UK tornado climatology and the development of simple prediction tools" (PDF). Quarterly Journal of the Meteorological Society (Royal Meteorological Society) 130: 1009–1021. Bibcode 2004QJRMS.130.1009H. doi:10.1256/qj.03.45. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  28. ^ Staff (2002-03-28). "Natural Disasters: Tornadoes". BBC Science and Nature. BBC. Archived from the original on 2002-10-14. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  29. ^ Nikolai Dotzek (2003-03-20). "An updated estimate of tornado occurrence in Europe" (PDF). Atmospheric Research. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  30. ^ Meaden, Terrance (2004). "Wind Scales: Beaufort, T — Scale, and Fujita's Scale". Tornado and Storm Research Organisation. Retrieved 2009-09-11. 

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