Europe has a variety of climates, but most of the continent has mild weather. The map and legend show what the climate is like throughout the continent.
Europe has a variety of climates, but most of the continent has mild weather. The maps with this article provide information about temperatures and precipitation (rain, melted snow, and other forms of moisture). A map in the Europe article in the print version of The World Book Encyclopedia illustrated the continent's numerous climate patterns.
Europe generally has milder weather than parts of Asia and North America at the same latitude. For example, Berlin, Germany; Calgary, Canada; and Irkutsk, in the Asian part of Russia, lie at about the same latitude. But January temperatures in Berlin average about 15 degrees F (8 degrees C) higher than those in Calgary, and they are almost 40 degrees F (22 degrees C) higher than the average temperatures in Irkutsk.
Europe's mild climate is caused by winds that blow across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean. The winds are warmed by the Gulf Stream, a powerful ocean current that carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the western coast of Europe. The winds affect most of the continent because no mountain barrier is large enough to block them and because much of Europe is located within 300 miles (480 kilometers) of the Atlantic Ocean.
The most spectacular effect of the Gulf Stream and the strong westerly winds on Europe occurs along the Norwegian coast. Much of Norway's coast lies in the Arctic region, most of which is covered with ice and snow in winter. But almost all of Norway's coast--even that part in the Arctic--remains free of ice and snow throughout the winter.
In general, northern Europe has longer, colder winters and shorter, cooler summers than southern Europe. In addition, winters are longer and colder, and summers shorter and hotter, in the east than in the west. Glasgow, Scotland, for example, has an average temperature of 38 degrees F (3 degrees C) in January. But Moscow, which lies at the same latitude, has an average January temperature of 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C).
Most of Europe receives from 20 to 60 inches (50 to 150 centimeters) of precipitation each year. The greatest annual precipitation--usually more than 80 inches (200 centimeters)--occurs in areas just west of mountains. Such regions include parts of western Britain and western Norway. The continent's lightest annual precipitation--usually less than 20 inches (50 centimeters)--occurs in three general areas: (1) east of high mountains, (2) far inland from the Atlantic Ocean, and (3) along the Arctic coast. Such regions include central and southeastern Spain, northern Scandinavia, northern and southeastern parts of European Russia, and western Kazakhstan.
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