What Is the Difference Between a Tropical Wet and Dry Climate?

Tropical wet climates receive much more rain than tropical dry climates do. However, the term “tropical wet and dry climate” actually refers to a single type of climate. Tropical dry climates occur in deserts, while tropical wet climates usually occur along the rainforest belt. Tropical wet and dry climates have a distinct dry season and a distinct wet season, which produces a Savanna habitat.

Because a long portion of the year lacks any rainfall, there are very few trees in the savanna. Most of the vegetation consists of scrubby plants, grasses and forbs. Large ungulates and the predators that hunt them are among the most important animals in savanna habitats. Such habitats are found throughout portions of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and portions of South America.

Places that experience tropical wet climates receive enough rainfall to sustain a population of trees. The combination of abundant rainfall and warm temperatures throughout the year produce rainforests that have incredible plant and animal diversity. By contrast, while tropical dry climates feature year-round high temperatures, they lack the rainfall to sustain a complex community of plants and animals. The lack of vegetation also means that the soils in such dry areas turn to sand as dead plants do not contribute organic material to the soil.