- latitude (distance from the equator)
- altitude (height)
- continentality (distance from the sea)
- prevailing winds and ocean currents
Latitude is the main factor affecting global climate - the further you go from the equator, the cooler it gets (all other factors remaining constant). This is because the earth in curved which means that the sun's energy is more concentrated at the equator. This, and the thinner atmosphere at the equator, means that the earth gets hotter here.
Temperatures decrease by 1 degree celsius for every 100 metres increase in altitude. Mountainous areas are therefore cooler.
Continentality (distance from the sea)
The sea is cooler than the land in summer, but warmer in winter. This is because it takes the sea a long time to heat up, but it is slower to cool down than land.
Prevailing winds and ocean currents
The prevailing wind is the direction that the wind blows from most often. Winds take on the characteristics of their source region. Our climate in the UK would be much colder if the prevailing wind came from the north (the Arctic).
Ocean currents can be warm or cold, and they affect the temperature of coastal areas. The warm North Atlantic Drift keeps the British Isles warm in winter.