1. Brazil 1. Although 90 percent of the country is within the tropical zone, the climate varies considerably from the mostly tropical North to temperate zones below the Tropic of Capricorn (23°27' S latitude). Temperatures along the equator are high, averaging above 25°C, but not reaching the summer extremes of up to 40°C in the temperate zones. There is little seasonal variation near the equator, although at times it can get cool enough for wearing a jacket, especially in the rain. At the country's other extreme, there are frosts south of the Tropic of Capricorn during the winter (June-August), and in some years there is snow in the mountainous areas. Precipitation levels vary widely. Most of this country has moderate rainfall of between 1,000 and 1,500 millimeters a year, with most of the rain falling in the summer (between December and April) south of the Equator. The Amazon region is notoriously humid, with rainfall generally more than 2,000 millimeters per year and reaching as high as 3,000 millimeters in parts of the western Amazon and near Belém. It is less widely known that, despite high annual precipitation, the Amazon rain forest has a three- to five-month dry season, the timing of which varies according to location north or south of the equator. High and relatively regular levels of precipitation in the Amazon contrast sharply with the dryness of the semiarid Northeast, where rainfall is scarce and there are severe droughts in cycles averaging seven years. The Northeast is the driest part of the country. The region also constitutes the hottest part of this country, where during the dry season between May and November, temperatures of more than 38°C have been recorded. However, the sertão , a region of semidesert vegetation used primarily for low-density ranching, turns green when there is rain. Most of the Center-West has 1,500 to 2,000 millimeters of rain per year, with a pronounced dry season in the middle of the year, while the South and most of the Atlantic coast as far north as Salvador, Bahia, in the Northeast, have similar amounts of rainfall without a distinct dry season. 2. Germany 2. Although located mostly at latitudes north of the United States-Canadian border and thus closer to the Arctic Circle than to the equator, this country’s climate is moderate and is generally without sustained periods of cold or heat. Northwestern and coastal areas have a maritime climate caused by warm westerly winds from the North Sea; the climate is characterized by warm summers and mild cloudy winters. Farther inland, the climate is continental, marked by greater diurnal and seasonal variations in temperature, with warmer summers and colder winters. In addition to the maritime and continental climates that predominate over most of the country, the Alpine regions in the extreme south and, to a lesser degree, some areas of the Central Uplands have a so-called mountain climate. This climate is characterized by lower temperatures because of higher altitudes and greater precipitation caused by air becoming moisture-laden as it lifts over higher terrain. The major air masses contributing to the maritime weather are the Icelandic lowpressure system and the Azores high-pressure system. The Icelandic lows rotate in a counterclockwise direction and tend to move to the east and southeast as they approach Europe. The Azores highs move eastward and rotate in a clockwise direction. Both of these air masses furnish Western Europe with moisture-laden clouds propelled by westerly winds. The yearly mean temperature for the country is about 9° C. Other than for variations caused by shelter and elevation, the annual mean temperature is fairly constant throughout the country. Temperature extremes between night and day and summer and winter are considerably less in the north than in the south. During January, the coldest month, the average temperature is approximately 1.6°C in the north and about -2°C in the south. In July, the warmest month, the situation reverses, and it is cooler in the north than in the south. The northern coastal region has July temperatures averaging between 16°C and 18°C; at some locations in the south, the average is 19.4°C or slightly higher. Annual precipitation varies from 2,000 millimeters a year in the southern mountains to a low of 400 millimeters in the vicinity of Mainz. Over most of the country, it averages between 600 millimeters and 800 millimeters per annum. 3. The Bahamas 3. The climate of the archipelago is semitropical and has two seasons, summer and winter. During the summer, which extends from May through November, the climate is dominated by warm, moist tropical air masses moving north through the Caribbean. Midsummer temperatures range from 21o C to 34o C with a relative humidity of 60 to 100 percent. In winter months, extending from December through April, the climate is affected by the movement of cold polar masses from North America. Temperatures during the winter months range from 15o C to 24o C. Yearly rainfall averages 132 centimeters and is usually concentrated in the MayJune and September-October periods. Rainfall often occurs in short-lived, fairly intense showers accompanied by strong gusty winds, which are then followed by clear skies. Winds are predominantly easterly throughout the year but tend to become northeasterly from October to April and southeasterly from May to September. These winds seldom exceed twenty-four kilometers per hour except during hurricane season. Although the hurricane season officially lasts from June to November, most hurricanes occur between July and October; as of late 1987, the last one to strike was Hurricane David in September 1979. Damage was estimated at US$1.8 million and mainly affected agricultural products. The most intense twentieth-century hurricane to strike was in 1929; winds of up to 225 kilometers per hour were recorded. Many lives were lost, and there was extensive damage to buildings, homes, and boats. 4. Ecuador 4. Each region has different factors that affect its climate. The coast is influenced primarily by proximity to warm or cool ocean currents. By contrast, climate in the Sierra varies more as a function of altitude. The Oriente has a fairly uniform climate that varies only slightly between the two subregions. Throughout this country, variation in rainfall primarily determines seasons. Temperature is determined by altitude. With each ascent of 200 meters in altitude, temperature drops 1° C. The Costa has a tropical climate. Temperatures for the region as a whole remain fairly constant, ranging from 23° C in the south to 26° C in the north. Although seasonal changes in temperature are not pronounced, the hottest period occurs during the rainy season, especially from February to April. Near Guayaquil, the coolest months are August and September. Rainfall in the Costa decreases from north to south, with vegetation changing from tropical rainforest in the north to tropical savannah to desert in the south. Differences in temperature and rainfall in the Costa are caused by the Peruvian Current and periodic appearances of El Niño. The Peruvian Current, also formerly known as the Humboldt, is a cold ocean current that flows north along the coasts of Chile and Peru. The cold water and air temperatures associated with the Peruvian Current inhibit rainfall along the coast, creating dry to arid conditions. The El Niño occurs periodically every six or seven years. Starting in late December, a change in atmospheric pressure shifts ocean currents so that warm waters come closer to shore and displace the cold waters. During this time, air and water temperatures, tides, sea levels and wave heights, and relative humidity all are higher than usual. These conditions produce heavy rainfall that generally lasts until May in an area that normally experiences nothing more than a drizzle. The resulting flooding and landslides can be devastating. 5. South Africa 5. Water shortages are a chronic and severe problem in much of this country. The country has no commercially navigable rivers and no significant natural lakes. Along the coastline are several large lagoons and estuarine lakes. The government has created several artificial lakes, primarily for agricultural irrigation. Climatic conditions generally range from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of the country to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast. A small area in the northwest has a desert climate. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights. Rainfall generally occurs during summer (November through March), although in the southwest, rainfall often occurs in winter (June through August). Temperatures are influenced by variations in elevation, terrain, and ocean currents more than latitude. Temperature and rainfall patterns vary in response to the movement of a highpressure belt that circles the globe between 25° and 30° south latitude during the winter and low-pressure systems that occur during summer. There is very little difference in average temperatures from south to north, however, in part because the inland plateau rises slightly in the northeast. For example, the average annual temperature in Cape Town is 17°C, and in Pretoria, 17.5°C, although these cities are separated by almost ten degrees of latitude. Maximum temperatures often exceed 32°C in the summer, and reach 38°C in some areas of the far north. Frost occurs in high altitudes during the winter months. Record snowfalls (almost fifty centimeters) occurred in July 1994 in mountainous areas. Climatic conditions vary noticeably between east and west, largely in response to the warm ocean current, which sweeps southward along the Indian Ocean coastline in the east for several months of the year, and the cold current, which sweeps northward along the Atlantic Ocean coastline in the west. Air temperatures in Durban, on the Indian Ocean, average nearly 6°C warmer than temperatures at the same latitude on the Atlantic Ocean coast. The effects of these two currents can be seen even at the narrow peninsula, where water temperatures average 4°C higher on the east side than on the west. 6. India 6. The Himalayas isolate South Asia from the rest of Asia. South of these mountains, the climate, like the terrain, is highly diverse, but some geographers give it an overall, one-word characterization--violent. What geographers have in mind is the abruptness of change and the intensity of effect when change occurs-the onset of the monsoon rains, sudden flooding, rapid erosion, extremes of temperature, tropical storms, and unpredictable fluctuations in rainfall. Broadly speaking, agriculture in this country is constantly challenged by weather uncertainty. It is possible to identify seasons, although these do not occur uniformly. The country’s Meteorological Service divides the year into four seasons: the relatively dry, cool winter from December through February; the dry, hot summer from March through May; the southwest monsoon from June through September when the predominating southwest maritime winds bring rains to most of the country; and the northeast, or retreating, monsoon of October and November. In the Himalayan region, climate varies with altitude. At about 2,000 meters, the average summer temperature is near 18°C; at 4,500 meters, it is rarely above 0°C. In the valleys, summer temperatures reach between 32°C and 38°C. The eastern Himalayas receive as much as 1,000 to 2,000 millimeters more precipitation than do the Western Himalayas, and floods are common. The heat can be oppressive and sometimes, such as was experienced in 1994 and 1995, literally can be a killer. Hot, relatively dry weather is the norm before the southwest monsoons, which, along with heavy rains and high humidity, bring cloud cover that lowers temperatures slightly. Temperatures reach the upper 30s°C and can reach as high as 48°C during the day in the premonsoon months. 7. Mexico 7. The Tropic of Cancer effectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. Land north of the twenty-fourth parallel experiences cooler temperatures during the winter months. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, temperatures are fairly constant year round and vary solely as a function of elevation. Areas south of the twentieth-fourth parallel with elevations up to 1,000 meters have a yearly median temperature between 24°C and 28°C. Temperatures here remain high throughout the year, with only a 5°C difference between winter and summer median temperatures. Although low-lying areas north of the twentiethfourth parallel are hot and humid during the summer, they generally have lower yearly temperature averages (from 20°C to 24°C) because of more moderate conditions during the winter. Between 1,000 and 2,000 meters, one encounters yearly average temperatures between 16°C and 20°C. Towns and cities at this elevation south of the twentyfourth parallel have relatively constant, pleasant temperatures throughout the year, whereas more northerly locations experience sizeable seasonal variations. Above 2,000 meters, temperatures drop as low as an average yearly range between 8°C and 12°C. At 2,300 meters, the capital has a yearly median temperature of 15°C with pleasant summers and mild winters. Average daily highs and lows for May, the warmest month, are 26°C and 12°C, and average daily highs and lows for January, the coldest month, are 19°C and 6°C. Rainfall varies widely both by location and season. This country has pronounced wet and dry seasons. Most of the country experiences a rainy season from June to mid-October and significantly less rain during the remainder of the year. February and July generally are the driest and wettest months, respectively. Coastal areas, especially those along the Gulf of Mexico, experience the largest amounts of rain in September. This country lies squarely within the hurricane belt, and all regions of both coasts are susceptible to these storms from June through November. Hurricanes on the Pacific coast are less frequent and often less violent than those affecting the eastern coastline. 8. Japan 8. This is generally a rainy country with high humidity. Because of its wide range of latitude, it has a variety of climates, with a range often compared to that of the east coast of North America, from Nova Scotia to Georgia. The capital city is at about 36 north latitude, comparable to that of Tehran, Athens, or Los Angeles. The generally humid, temperate climate exhibits marked seasonal variation celebrated in art and literature, as well as regional variations ranging from cool to subtropical. Climate also varies with altitude and with location on the Pacific Ocean or on the sea. Northern areas have warm summers but long, cold winters with heavy snow. Central areas have hot, humid summers and short winters, and southwestern areas have long, hot, humid summers and mild winters. Two primary factors influence the climate: a location near the Asian continent and the existence of major oceanic currents. The climate from June to September is marked by hot, wet weather brought by tropical airflows from the Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia. These airflows are full of moisture and deposit substantial amounts of rain when they reach land. There is a marked rainy season, beginning in early June and continuing for about a month. It is followed by hot, sticky weather. Five or six typhoons pass over or near this country every year from early August to early September, sometimes resulting in significant damage. Annual precipitation, which averages between 100 and 200 centimeters, is concentrated in the period between June and September. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of the annual precipitation falls during this period. In winter, a high-pressure area develops over Siberia, and a low-pressure area develops over the northern Pacific Ocean. The result is a flow of cold air eastward across this country that brings freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls to the central mountain ranges facing the sea, but clear skies to areas fronting on the Pacific. 9. Russia 9. This country has a largely continental climate because of its sheer size and compact configuration. Most of its land is more than 400 kilometers from the sea, and the center is 3,840 kilometers from the sea. In addition, mountain ranges, predominantly to the south and the east, block moderating temperatures from the Indian and Pacific oceans, but the eastern and northern areas lack such topographic protection from the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. Because only small parts of this country are south of 50° north latitude and more than half of the country is north of 60° north latitude, extensive regions experience six months of snow cover over subsoil that is permanently frozen to depths as far as several hundred meters. The average yearly temperature of nearly all of eastern areas are below freezing, and the average for most of the northern territory is freezing or below. Most of this country has only two seasons, summer and winter, with very short intervals of moderation between them. The Far East, under the influence of the Pacific Ocean, has a monsoonal climate that reverses the direction of wind in summer and winter, sharply differentiating temperatures; and a narrow, subtropical band of territory provides this country’s most popular summer resort area on the Black Sea. Average January temperatures are -8°C, -27°C in the west and north, and -43°C in east-central. Summer temperatures are more affected by latitude, however; the Arctic islands average 4°C, and the southernmost regions average 20°C. This country's potential for temperature extremes is typified by the national record low of -94°C, and the record high of 38°C, recorded at several southern stations. Because this country has little exposure to ocean influences, most of the country receives low to moderate amounts of precipitation. Highest precipitation falls in the northwest, with amounts decreasing from northwest to southeast across the western part. The wettest areas are the small, lush subtropical region adjacent to the Caucasus and along the Pacific coast. 10. Afghanistan 10. The climate is typical of an arid or semiarid steppe, with cold winters and dry summers. The mountain regions of the northeast are subarctic with dry and cold winters. In the mountains bordering Pakistan, a divergent fringe effect of the monsoon, generally coming from the southeast, brings tropical air masses that determine the climate between July and September. At times, these air masses advance into central and southern Afghanistan, bringing increased humidity and some rain. On the intermountain plateaus the winds do not blow very strongly, but in the Sistan Basin there are severe blizzards that occur during the winter, generally December through February. In the western and southern regions a northerly wind, known as the "wind of 120 days," blows during the summer months of June to September. This wind is usually accompanied by intense heat, drought, and sand storms, bringing much hardship to the inhabitants of the desert and steppe lands. Dust and whirlwinds frequently occur during the summer months on the flats in the southern part of the country. Rising at midday or in the early afternoon, these "dust winds" advance at velocities ranging between 97 and 177 kilometers per hour, raising high clouds of dust. Temperature and precipitation are controlled by the exchange of air masses. The highest temperatures and the lowest precipitation prevail in the drought-ridden, poorly watered southern plateau region, which extends over the boundaries with Iran and Pakistan. The Central Mountains, with higher peaks ascending toward the Pamir Knot, represent another distinct climatic region. From the Koh-e Baba Range to the Pamir Knot, January temperatures may drop to -15 C or lower in the highest mountain areas; July temperatures vary between 0 and 26 C depending on altitude. In the mountains the annual mean precipitation, much of which is snowfall, increases eastward and is highest in the Koh-e Baba Range, the western part of the Pamir Knot, and the Eastern Hindukush. Precipitation in these regions and the eastern monsoon area is about forty centimeters per year. Permanent snow covers the highest mountain peaks. In the mountainous region adjacent to northern Pakistan, the snow is often more than two meters deep during the winter months. Valleys often become snow traps as the high winds sweep much of the snow from mountain peaks and ridges. Precipitation generally fluctuates greatly during the course of the year in all parts of the country. Surprise rainstorms often transform the episodically flowing rivers and streams from puddles to torrents.