Geography is one of the major parts of UPSC syllabus both in Mains and Prelims and in geography climatology has a big section in both prelims and in mains. IAS Aspirants should understand the topic very properly and make notes for prelims and conceptually understand to make notes for mains.This article will give you details of climatology which is partof UPSC mains GS paper 1 and IAS aspirants


  • Weather
  • Climate
  • Climate Vs Weather
  • Elements of Climate and Weather
  • Control of climate


Weather is the instantaneous state of the atmosphere, or the sequence of the states of the atmosphere as time passes.


Climate is usually defined as the average weather plus the extremes for a given time period and a given location. More technically, for a given location and time period the climate is the probability distribution of each variable that characterizes the local weather. Climate changes from one location to another, and in a given location climate can change from one time period to another. Weather is the sum total of the atmospheric variables at a given place for a brief period of time; it is an everyday experience. Thus we speak of today’s weather, or of last week’s. Climate, on the other hand, refers to a more enduring regime of the atmosphere.

Climate Vs Weather

The difference between climate and weather is usefully summarized by the popular phrase “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get”. Weather and climate are meteorological terms that are related but not interchangeable

Elements of Climate and Weather

 Although weather and climate are not identical both are described by combinations of the same atmospheric variables, called the elements of weather and climate. Primarily these elements are Pressure, Temperature, Precipitation, Humidity, Wind and Cloudiness. The atmospheric pressure is of particular importance in determining the characteristics of the other variables. It is atmospheric pressure that to an important degree determines the direction and speed of the wind, and it is the wind that in turn moves air masses of contrasting temperature and moisture from one locality to another. While air movement is predominantly in a horizontal direction, there is also some slight upward or downward movement. Where the motion is upward, cloud and precipitation are likely, while downward air movement, or subsidence, favors fair skies.

Control of Climate

Climatic Controls are the factors affecting the climate of particular place. The most fundamental control of both weather and climate is the unequal heating and cooling of the atmosphere in different parts of the earth. While the earth as a whole loses as much heat to space as it gains from the sun, some parts experience a net gain and others a net loss. The unequal heating occurs on a wide variety of geographic scales, the largest and most important of which is the differential between high and low latitudes. But heating and cooling differences also exist between continents and oceans, between snow-covered and snow-free areas, between forested and cultivated land, and even between cities and their surrounding country sides. These heating and cooling differences, and the air movements (winds) they induce, represent the overall general background control of weather and climate. The more specific controls are derived from various geographic factors

 Latitudinal Variations in Solar Radiation

 Latitudinal differences in the amounts of solar energy received are the most basic climatic control. In low latitudes the sun is high in the sky, the  solar radiation is intense, and the climate is warm and tropical; in high latitudes the sun is lower in the sky, the solar radiation is weaker, and the climate is colder. The zone of maximum solar radiation shifts northward and southward during the year, thereby producing the seasons. The effectiveness of solar heating also varies with the nature of the surface on which the sunshine falls. Thus a strongly reflecting snow surface is heated much less than a land surface lacking snow.


Since within the troposphere temperature normally decreases with increasing Altitude, places at higher elevations are likely to have lower temperatures (and often also more precipitation) than adjacent  lowlands. Thus altitude is a climatic control. Where a high mountain chain lies athwart the path of prevailing winds, it acts to block the movement of air and hence the transfer of warm or cold air masses. In addition, the upward thrust of air  on a mountain’s windward side and the downward movement of air on its lee side tend to make for increased precipitation in the former instance and a decrease in the latter.

Distribution of Continents and Ocean

Continents heat and cool more rapidly than do oceans. Consequently non coastal continental areas experience more intense summer heat and winter cold than do oceanic and coastal areas.

Pressure and Wind Systems

Differences in heating and cooling between high and low latitudes, between land and water areas, and between snow-covered and bare land surfaces lead not only to regional temperature contrasts but also to differences in atmospheric pressure which in turn induce air movements (winds). Air in motion, which in itself is an important element of weather and climate, also operates as a control, for it serves as a transporter of heat from regions of net heat gain to regions of net loss. And just as there is a great variety of geographic scales of differential heating and cooling of terrestrial surfaces, so there is a great variety of scales relating to atmospheric pressure and atmospheric motion. They range from those of hemispheric magnitude, such as the belts of westerly winds in middle latitudes and the belts of easterlies that encircle the low latitudes, to the small but extremely violent tornado.

The mobile low-and high-pressure systems which bring day-to-day weather changes and are conspicuous features on daily weather maps are of a common scale of atmospheric motion. The frequency of occurrence and the paths followed by these transient mobile pressure and winds systems are important factors in determining climate. Some pressure and wind systems, especially the highs over the subtropical oceans, tend to be semi permanent in position, and they too are of great climatic importance.

Ocean Currents

Ocean currents, both warm and cold, which are largely induced by the major wind systems, are also an important climatic control. They are highly important in transporting warmth and chill in a north-south direction, and in so doing give some coastal regions distinctive climates

Local Features

 Finally, the climate of a place is affected by a variety of local features, such as its exposure, the slope of the land, and the characteristics of vegetation and soil. In the Northern Hemisphere south-facing slopes receive more direct sunlight and have a warmer climate than those with a northern exposure, which not only face away from the sun, but are also more open to cold northerly winds. Areas with sandy, loosely packed soil, because of their low heat conductivity, are inclined to experience more frosts than do areas with hard packed soils; valleys normally have more frequent and severe frosts than the adjacent slopes; and cities are usually warmer than the adjacent country sides.

Climatology is a vast topic and the above article will give you basic start with the topic. to read more articles on Climatology Click here