Weather and climate

Learn about weather and climate including climatic zones and the British climate.

This lesson includes:

  • one animated video describing the factors that determine climate and the five main climate zones of the world

  • two activities


Watch this animation describing the factors that determine the climate of a country and the five main climate zones of the world.

Climatic zones

What is the difference between weather and climate?

Weather describes the day-to-day conditions of the atmosphere. Weather can change quickly - one day it can be dry and sunny and the next day it may rain.

Climate describes average weather conditions over longer periods and over large areas. Places on the equator are hotter than those places further away because the sun's energy is more concentrated and direct at the equator.

The table below shows the world climatic zones.

World climatic zones

British climate

Britain has a mild climate. It is in the temperate climatic zone and the sea affects the weather. In general, this means that Britain gets cool, wet winters and warm, wet summers. The weather conditions are also very changeable.

Climate can change from place to place and from time to time. The British Isles experiences four seasons:

  • Spring - March to May
  • Summer - June to August
  • Autumn - September to November
  • Winter - December to February

Temperature and rainfall also vary between different parts of the British Isles.

British temperatures

What factors affect the temperature?

  • Prevailing winds - Prevailing winds are the dominant wind direction in an area. The temperature of the wind and the amount of rainfall partly depend on where the air has come from.
  • Latitude (imaginary lines around the Earth running parallel to the equator) - the sun's energy is more concentrated and direct at the equator.
  • Altitude (a measure of an area's height above sea level) - Temperatures decrease with altitude. There is a 1°C drop in temperature for every increase of 100 m in height. This is because the air is less dense in higher altitudes.
  • Distance from the sea - Coastal areas are most affected by the sea. The sea takes longer to heat up and cool down than land. So in the winter the sea keeps coastal areas warm and in summer, it cools them down.
  • Ocean currents - Britain's mild climate is partly due to the Gulf Stream, a large Atlantic Ocean current of warm water from the Gulf of Mexico.


Here are a few activities to try to help you remember what you've learnt about weather and climate.

Activity 1

The A to Z of weather and climate

As you work through this guide on weather and climate can you find a key word for each letter of the alphabet?

Read and look back through the lesson and look out for the important key words and terms.

This resource is from Twinkl.

Download and print out the activity sheet below.

The A to Z of weather and climate activity sheet

Activity 2

Climatic zones map

Download and print out the map of the world below.

  • Shade in the different climate zones and complete the key.
  • Add a short description of each climate zone in the boxes.

This resource is from Twinkl.

Climatic zones map

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

KS3 Geography
11 - 14 Geography
Bitesize Daily lessons