What Are the Climate Zones in Europe?

Europe has four major climate zones, which are the maritime climate, Central European climate, continental climate and Mediterranean climate. Within these zones, however, there can be internal variations. Big industrialized cities, for example, may have their own climates due to infrastructure and pollution.

Places that are heavily exposed to Atlantic air masses experience maritime climate. It is characterized by wide temperature variations, warm to hot summers and year-round precipitation or rainfall, mostly during autumn or early winter. Great Britain and Ireland, Norway, southern Sweden, western France, the Low Countries and northwestern Spain are part of this zone.

The central European climate zone is a product of maritime and continental air masses. Spanning the areas of central Sweden, southern Finland, the Oslo Basin of Norway and much of central and southeast Europe, this area experiences colder winters, mountain snowfalls and warmer summers.

A huge part of Europe, encompassing northern Ukraine, eastern Belarus, Russia, most of Finland and northern Sweden, has a continental climate. These places experience much colder and longer winters than Western Europe, while having less rain.

Areas near the coast of southern Europe are part of the Mediterranean climate zone. In this subtropical region, summers are hot and dry, winters are mild and wet and skies are clear for most of the year.